04/18/12 10:14 PM ET
Phillies skipper still believes in Mayberry
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
If he played like he played in the second half last season, the Phillies could better handle the absences of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley because of his power potential. But if Mayberry struggled, it would create another sizable void.
Mayberry, who did not start Wednesday for the third time in four games, is struggling. He is hitting .176 since Opening Day with no extra-base hits.
"I'm not down on John and I don't want him to get down on himself," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said before Wednesday's game. "He'll get every chance in the world to get his swing. We've played 11 games.
"He might get in tonight and pinch-hit and just take off and start tearing it up. That's baseball. That's the part you've got to live with. When you start hitting the ball hard, you see it yourself. It starts coming off your bat, and you feel good, and you'll get to play. He'll get to play. He'll get a chance to get going. But he'll play more if he starts hitting like he did in the second half of the season last year. That's kind of where it's at. I didn't give up on him. When I see you do something, I know you can do it and I stay with you. I know it's there and we'll eventually get it back out of you. But our main priority is to win tonight's game. I don't care who plays as long as we win tonight's game."
Struggling Polanco gets break vs. Giants
SAN FRANCISCO -- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel continues to tinker, searching for a way to score a few more runs a little more consistently.
He settled on his 10th different lineup in 12 games for Wednesday's series finale against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. He put Juan Pierre in the leadoff spot for the fifth time this season, which landed John Mayberry Jr. a spot on the bench. He also started Ty Wigginton at third base, putting Placido Polanco on the bench.
Polanco is really struggling, hitting .179 (7-for-39) with one double and one RBI. He is not hitting balls hard and he has six strikeouts, giving him one strikeout every 6.83 plate appearances. That statistic is noteworthy because Polanco struck out just once every 11.89 plate appearances last season, which was the third-best mark in baseball. In his career, Polanco has struck out just once every 14.72 plate appearances.
That is a big reason why Manuel likes Polanco in the No. 2 spot in the lineup. He makes contact.
But right now, he's doing less of that and not hitting balls hard.
Could that be a result of lost bad speed?
"You know what I think it is?" Manuel said. "I think Polly has been hitting in a weak hitting position. His timing is off. He's been getting on his front side too quick. He drove the ball to center field real good [in his last at-bat Tuesday]. He showed some quickness the last couple nights. I talked to him a couple days ago. I talked to him about keeping more weight on his backside.
"Sometimes when you get into a bad habit, sometimes it's hard to break. You really don't realize what you're doing. It takes you awhile. I think he's still got some bat speed. He needs to get consistent, of course. He always has been in his career."
Phillies impressed by ageless Moyer
SAN FRANCISCO -- Jamie Moyer became the oldest pitcher to win a game at 49 years, 150 days old when he beat the Padres on Tuesday.
The Phillies weren't surprised Moyer did it.
"I figured he would," Cole Hamels said. "There's always a point in your career when you're going to hang them up. But for him, because he was so close to reaching some of those milestones, he's the never-say-die guy. To be able to do that, it's pretty impressive."
Moyer said he planned to pitch again after he had left elbow surgery in 2010. Hamels said he knew Moyer would follow through on his promise.
"When he's got certain agendas, he's going to go get them," Hamels said. "That just shows the type of work ethic he has. It's pretty incredible to be that old. I don't know how I'd feel when I'm at that age, but I know I probably won't be throwing a baseball. For him to be able to do it, it's pretty cool. He probably has a milestone I don't think anybody will ever hit. Nobody is going to be that old in this day and age."
Said Charlie Manuel: "I'll congratulate him. I'll see him. He better not pitch against us and beat us, though. Then I'm really going to be mad."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.