Phillies Notes: Phillies skipper pleased with Mayberry's play

Posted: September 06, 2012

CINCINNATI - Last winter, the Phillies decided that John Mayberry Jr. was worthy of a starting job on the basis of a magnificent second half in 2011. Less than a month remains in 2012, and the way Charlie Manuel talks, there is still a question of how to judge Mayberry's season.

"Right now he's doing real good," Manuel said. "That's how you win a job."

Since the Phillies traded two-thirds of their outfield July 31 and installed Mayberry as the everyday centerfielder, he has flourished. He entered Tuesday hitting .306 with an .878 OPS since the trade deadline.

It's a small sample size and the larger picture says Mayberry is having a worse season than last. His slugging percentage is nearly 100 points off last season's pace. He is hitting worse against righthanders in 2012.

But his season OPS of .725 matched the major-league average Tuesday. (The average for outfielders is .758.) That's even after a horrid start to the year.

So what kind of player is he?

"How you find out, you get to the consistency part," Manuel said. "I've always told him, 'You need to hit righthanded pitchers better.' And he's starting to get some hits off them. That's how Jayson Werth won a job. That's how he got $126 million. Really.

"They're two different players, but if John can show he can consistently hit righthanded pitching and hold his own, that's what will make him an everyday player."

The Phillies must fill at least two outfield spots for 2013 - Ruben Amaro Jr. has said that Domonic Brown is effectively guaranteed one. The free-agent market is flush with options, but some could be costly. If the Phillies sign one big-ticket outfielder, they could look to fill the third spot with a platoon.

Mayberry's defense in center has not been extraordinary but has been serviceable. "He's fine," Manuel said, while noting he is no B.J. Upton or Michael Bourn in center. Curiously, both of those players will be free agents this winter.

For now, Mayberry will play there. He has a month to capitalize on this hot streak.

"He's been getting a chance to play," Manuel said. "He's hit some homers. Things are falling his way."

Howard's fielding

Ryan Howard has failed to catch a few throws in the dirt, including one Monday, during this road trip. Howard, still not 100 percent from Achilles tendon surgery, isn't lunging at first base as much as before.

But Manuel does not see egregious mistakes there.

"What you try to do is you try to block those," Manuel said. "Somebody will say, 'Well Howard has to block that ball!' Well, that's easier said than done sometimes. What about the ones he does catch?"

Manuel said he still notices the effects of Howard's injury while he bats.

"He has trouble using his backside," Manuel said. "He'll tell you, using his legs and the part that makes your bat quick. I'm not making excuses for him."

Extra bases

Pete Orr was purchased from triple-A Lehigh Valley because the Phillies felt they needed infield coverage. Third baseman Placido Polanco is available strictly in "emergency" situations, Manuel said. That is why he has not been used as a late-game defensive replacement. "He's not available," Manuel said. . . . The 40-man roster is full with Orr's addition, but that does not preclude another call-up, like Darin Ruf, later. The Phillies could transfer Mike Stutes or Vance Worley to the 60-day disabled list to free a spot.

Contact Matt Gelb at or follow on Twitter @magelb.


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