06/18/09 7:40 PM ET
Phillies' Ibanez lands on disabled list
Outfielder, slumping recently, sidelined by strained groin
By David Gurian-Peck / MLB.com
The Phillies placed the outfielder on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday morning with a strained left groin and recalled outfielder John Mayberry Jr. from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to take his place.
Ibanez was hitting .312 and was second in the National League with 22 homers and 59 RBIs.
"I mean, it's tough; you prepare to play 162 games," said Ibanez, who signed a three-year, $30 million free-agent contract in the offseason. "I know that this team's going to be fine. They were fine without me before."
The Phillies have not set a timetable for Ibanez's return. The 37-year-old is scheduled for an MRI exam on Thursday evening and is eligible to return against the Mets on July 3.
Ibanez's groin had been bothering him periodically since April, but it only became debilitating recently. He was 0-for-8 with five strikeouts in two games against the Blue Jays, and had just six hits in his past 31 at-bats (.194). He had noticeable difficulty running in the outfield and on the basepaths during Wednesday's 7-1 loss to Toronto.
"Oh, it's affected his play," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "It got to the point where the discomfort was enough for us to shut him down."
"Kind of everythingish," Ibanez said, asked what parts of his game were impacted. "Everything was starting to get affected. I wasn't helping the team, and it was probably the right thing to do at the right time."
Still, it took some prodding. Ibanez was originally not pleased with the decision to go on the DL. But he met with Amaro, manager Charlie Manuel, trainer Scott Sheridan and team physician Michael Cicotti and they "talked sense into me," Ibanez said.
Amaro said: "We have to kind of see the forest for the trees here. He stood a chance to really damage the groin if he continues to play on it, and if he does that, he could be out for a very, very long period of time, and it just doesn't make any sense for us to do that with him."
Ibanez received a day off on Sunday -- his first since 2007 -- in part because of the groin and in part because of a sore left Achilles, stemming from a pair of bad shoes. After a footwear fix, the Achilles injury has improved significantly, although Ibanez hinted that it is not 100 percent healed.
Manuel now has several outfield options to juggle. Mayberry, a 25-year-old right-handed hitter who homered in his big league debut on May 23, got the start on Thursday and homered again in an 8-7 loss to the Jays. He also gunned down Toronto center fielder Vernon Wells, who tagged up and was trying to score from third.
"You definitely realize the opportunity in front of you, but at the same time, I don't think you're going to do yourself any good by putting added pressure on yourself," said Mayberry, who was notified late Wednesday night and flew to Philadelphia early Thursday. "So you just try to stay within yourself, keep the same approach that you did all year, and hopefully the results will be there."
During his first stint with the Phillies, which lasted 10 days, Mayberry went 2-for-9 (.222) in three games. At Lehigh Valley, he hit .257 with eight homers and 41 RBIs in 52 games.
Mayberry will continue to see additional at-bats, Manuel said, but so will Greg Dobbs and Matt Stairs, both of whom typically come off the bench. Dobbs is hitting just .186 (11-for-59) in 51 games (seven starts), but he did hit .301 in 128 games last year.
And Stairs, 41, is hitting .289 (11-for-39) with three homers and 11 RBIs in limited duty. He has started just four times, but will benefit from six games in American League parks, with the designated hitter, next week.
Manuel sees experience and reliability in his veterans -- "I know Stairs and Dobbs can hit" -- and potential in the young Mayberry.
"Is John ready for us to turn him loose against big league pitching? I don't know," Manuel said. "He's going to play enough for us to find out."
No matter how productive these three are, though, they will have a tough time filling Ibanez's (now properly fitting) shoes. It's not easy to replace somebody on pace for 57 homers and 153 RBIs, somebody who leads all NL outfielders in voting for the July 14 All-Star Game.
"It is tough, because he means so much for our lineup and he does so much in our lineup, not only offensively but defensively," first baseman Ryan Howard said. "To have him out right now, you got to suck it up and just go out there and try to get the job done."
Amaro hopes that with careful monitoring and proper healing, Ibanez can return in exactly 15 days.
"That's the plan," Amaro said. "That would be great. But I don't know if that's going to happen."
David Gurian-Peck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.