Ibanez breaks out with four-hit game
Phillies outfielder working on body control, positioning
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies left fielder Raul Ibanez played so well early in 2009 that fans made him a National League All-Star starter.
This season has been much different. Ibanez entered Tuesday's series opener against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park hitting just .230 with three home runs, 22 RBIs, a .329 on-base percentage and a .379 slugging percentage.
Ibanez said he has figured out a few things recently, which he hopes help him turn around his season. He showed signs of that in a 10-8 victory over the Marlins. He went 4-for-5 with two RBIs. It was his first four-hit game since May 15, 2009.
"Without getting into too much detail, taking a shorter path to the ball and using less of my body," he said. "When you don't control your body the right way in the batter's box, you don't put yourself in the right position, you don't allow yourself to create the necessary bat speed and the bat speed that you have. When you get yourself in the right position and you fire the right way, your bat travels the way it's supposed to. Without getting too complicated, it's just about getting in the right position.
"It's kind of similar to squatting a weight or bench pressing. If you don't get yourself in the right position, you can't push the weight. That's really what hitting is about."
Ibanez, 38, had sports hernia surgery in November, but said he is healthy.
"I feel good, I feel healthy, I feel strong physically," he said. "It probably has more to do with creating some habits and getting out of them."
Werth: Slump not due to contract status
PHILADELPHIA -- Jayson Werth strongly disagreed with Phillies manager Charlie Manuel that his impending free agency has weighed on him during his recent slump.
Manuel did not play Werth against the Marlins on Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park. Werth is hitting .140 (8-for-57) with two home runs and six RBIs in his past 17 games, and .185 (17-for-91) with four homers and 13 RBIs in 26 games since May 7. It was the second time in nine days Manuel has kept Werth out of the starting lineup.
"I think something like that has to," said Manuel, asked if Werth's contract could be weighing on him. "It has to. I definitely think that. I think everyone is like that. Even if I guy is quiet, I know it does. I know in his mind that he thinks like that. He really got off to a tremendous start and when things started going a little bad for him, he thinks about it. But he's going to be fine."
Werth said through a team spokesman before the game that he did not think his impending free agency was affecting him at the plate. He spoke more strongly about it after the team's 10-8 victory.
"I don't think anybody can sit there and say what I'm thinking," Werth said. "I play hard every night. I hustle. I play to win. Thinking about my contract is the last thing on my mind."
So it upset Werth to hear that?
"Yeah," he said. "It does, but at the same time, I know Charlie is in my corner and we've all got one-track minds in here. But that's not what I'm thinking."
It is highly unlikely the Phils and Werth will strike a deal before the season ends. Werth could command $100 million as a free agent, assuming he recovers from his month-long slump and repeats the success he enjoyed in 2009, when he hit .268 with 36 home runs, 99 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. He has indicated he likely will test the free-agent market.
Manuel denies Phils are stealing signs
PHILADELPHIA -- In search of any explanation for Philadelphia's hitting woes, some speculation has emerged circling an issue that won't seem to go away: The binocular incident in Colorado almost a month ago.
After Monday's 3-1 loss to San Diego, manager Charlie Manuel laughed at the notion that the team's slump has any correlation to what happened at Coors Field on May 12, when Phillies bullpen coach Mick Billmeier was seen on television using binoculars to peer onto the field.
"If we're stealing, we're getting them wrong!" Manuel said with a laugh. "If we're stealing, I don't know about it, please let me in on it. Listen, we have scored runs since then. We had a good series in Milwaukee and we scored 10 runs against Pittsburgh."
In the past 19 games, the Phillies are hitting .212 as a team and have been outscored 74-41. They've been held to one run or fewer 10 times during that span, including five shutouts.
The Rockies accused the Phils of stealing signs when footage of Billmeier appeared on the local telecast, something Manuel vehemently denied at the time and continued to deny Monday.
"That has nothing to do with it," Manuel said. "And let me say this: I cannot believe that anyone would think that we were stealing signs with binoculars in the bullpen. I hope somebody would give us a little more credit for being smarter than that. I mean, really. No, I can't buy into that. But I can tell you this: We're definitely not stealing signs. We are not stealing signs."
The Mets and Yankees have each accused the Phillies of cheating in the past, but Manuel said he doesn't have any problem with that. Attempting to steal signs, he says, is part of baseball.
"If somebody steals our sign, that's our fault, that goes on me and our players," Manuel said. "Really. That's all part of baseball, and of course we would if we could. I've been trying to do that ever since I started playing this game. I'm sure that every team in baseball does that. That's your own fault if somebody's stealing your signs."
As far as Philadelphia's batting slump goes, there must be other explanations.
"We are not stealing signs," Manuel said. "Would we? Yes, we would. But we're not."
Happ makes first rehab start
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies left-hander J.A. Happ, who has not pitched since April because of a left forearm injury, made his first rehab start Tuesday night for Class A Clearwater.
Happ allowed three hits and two runs and struck out two in three innings.
He could make his second rehab start early next week.
Twins draft Moyer's son
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies left-hander Jamie Moyer learned Tuesday that the Twins selected his oldest son, Dillon, in the 22nd round of the First-Year Player Draft.
Dillon Moyer is a shortstop at The Pendleton School in Bradenton, Fla. He has committed to play college baseball at the University of California-Irvine.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.