Phillies Notebook: Phillies' closer lying low

DAVID M WARREN / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Domonic Brown is greeted by Ryan Howard after belting three-run homer in first inning Wednesday.
DAVID M WARREN / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Domonic Brown is greeted by Ryan Howard after belting three-run homer in first inning Wednesday.
Posted: April 11, 2013

JONATHAN PAPELBON sat in a near-empty clubhouse Wednesday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park and almost looked bored.

The high-energy closer hadn't pitched in 5 days. His alter ego, Cinco Ocho, was locked away and itching to take the mound at Citizens Bank Park for the first time in a regular-season game since September.

"It drives me crazy some days, so I have to take a step back and pump the brakes," Papelbon said. "There was a reason why I didn't want to start when I was younger, because the 5 days in between drove me crazy. And I still find myself like that sometimes."

But Papelbon is in his eighth season as a major league closer and understands that just like he will be asked to work 3 straight days or five times a week, he'll also have to endure cold spells. It just so happens that his unscheduled hiatus took place at the beginning of the season.

After pitching in back-to-back games last week in Atlanta, Papelbon did not get into a game until Wednesday's 7-3 victory over the Mets, although that came in a non-save situation. He entered in the ninth inning, allowed a single, then got a doubleplay and strikeout to end the game.

"Over so many years, I've just adapted to it," Papelbon said prior to the game. "You do little things. When you're throwing every day, you try to focus on the little things. Just making sure I stay mentally in the game every night is key.

"It's more of a challenge mentally because you can't duplicate being out there and pitching in live action. That's the hardest thing to do. So for me that's the hardest thing to duplicate."

Papelbon now has three appearances and just one save opportunity. After entering a 7-2 game in Atlanta last Wednesday, and giving up a two-run homer to Jason Heyward, Papelbon came back the next night and struck out two in a perfect ninth inning to earn a save.

Ever since, he had been killing time in the bullpen until Wednesday night.

"It gets to that point where you feel like you have to run him out there to get an inning in, just to get him on the mound, to keep him sharp," manager Charlie Manuel said.

Papelbon also isn't one to protest a little break.

"I know that I'll get pitched pretty hard sometimes in a month," he said. "When I do get my rest, I won't complain."

Mayberry again

John Mayberry Jr. knocked in the game's first two runs and finished Tuesday night 2-for-4 with a home run, a double and three RBI in the Phillies' win over the Mets. So it wasn't too surprising when his name was back in the starting lineup on Wednesday.

Mayberry has started five of the first nine games in rightfield, the only position on the field where the Phillies don't have an obvious starter.

Delmon Young began the season on the disabled list and neither Mayberry nor Laynce Nix did anything to win a job this spring. They hit a combined .196 with nine extra-base hits during Grapefruit League play.

But a little over a week into the regular season, Mayberry entered play Wednesday hitting .333 with a home run, three doubles, four walks and four strikeouts in seven games.

The streaky Mayberry has hit well in spurts before, most notably at the end of the 2011 season, which paved the way for his appearance in the 2012 starting lineup. But he soon slumped and veteran Juan Pierre earned more regular playing time.

Is it still possible for Mayberry to get an everyday job?

"The better you play, you definitely can play yourself into being on the field to play," Charlie Manuel said. "I've always said that about him. I used to compare him to Jayson Werth because Jayson used to come in and ask me why he wasn't playing and I'd say you have to hit righthanded pitchers better. And he started hitting righthanded pitchers and he won a job. That's kind of how it goes."

Werth memorably dropped a videotape of personal highlights on Manuel's desk one day.

So has Mayberry showed the same initiative?

"I've probably talked to John about that three or four times over the course of the last couple of years," Manuel said.

Then again, as the manager likes to say, the Louisville can do the talking, too.


Roy Halladay will throw his regular, in-between starts bullpen session on Thursday, a scheduled day off for the Phillies. Halladay (0-2, 14.73 ERA) will make his third start of the season Sunday afternoon in Miami . . . Reserve infielders Freddy Galvis and Kevin Frandsen haven't made a start through the first nine games. "We've got to get Galvis some playing time if we're going to keep him here because he can't sit on the bench every day," said Charlie Manuel, who didn't rule out playing Galvis in the outfield . . . When Cliff Lee struck out six and walked none in 8 2/3 innings Tuesday, he extended his own modern-era, major league record. Lee has reeled off 19 straight starts of pitching at least six innings with one walk or less, the longest such streak post-1900. Lee has 14 strikeouts and no walks in 16 2/3 innings this season . . . Tickets for the annual Phillies Phestival (May 16 at Citizens Bank Park) go on sale Friday. At this year's Phestival, the annual autograph and auction party held to help strike out ALS, Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, Cliff Lee and Ben Revere will be available in photo booths. Tickets can be purchased by calling 215-463-1000.

On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

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