Manuel gives slumping Victorino a break
Charlie Manuel thought it was about time for Shane Victorino to get a night off.
“I’ve been watching the games,” Manuel said. “I think it’s time for him to start staying back behind the ball.”
Of course, the whole team ended up having off as the game was rained out (see story)
. It would have been just the second time this season that Victorino, who was to be replaced by John Mayberry Jr. in centerfield Friday night, was not in the starting lineup. He has yet to find a groove at the plate this season, hitting only .252 with eight homers and 33 RBIs.
“The thing that I see him doing, especially on the left side, is that he strides real quick, gets out front and it takes the sting out of his bat,” Manuel explained.
There’s definitely been a difference from the left side this season for the switch-hitting Victorino. He’s hitting only .226 as a lefty versus .329 from the right side. In his career, he’s hit .270 from the right side of the plate.
“The way they’re pitching him, he’s striding quick and getting out on his front side,” Manuel said. “He’s an arm-and-hand hitter right now. He’s an upper-body hitter and that’s kind of like a two-strike defensive hitter right now from the left side.”
With Tampa Bay scheduled to run out James Shields — one of the game’s better right-handed pitchers — to the mound on Friday night, Manuel thought it was as good a time as any to sit his two-time All-Star.
“I wouldn’t particularly like sitting him cause when he’s hitting good, of course, he gives us a chance to win the game,” he said.
Right now, however, Mayberry may give the Phillies the better chance to win. He has been hot over the past week, going 9 for 20 with three doubles, three homers and six RBIs. Friday would have been his sixth consecutive start.
Taking over for a three-time Gold Glove winner is never easy, but Mayberry has shown flashes of defensive brilliance — none better than his spectacular grab to seal the win against Miami on June 1.
Going into the series against the Rays, Victorino is the only Phillie to have played in all 71 games. Though he didn’t start on June 1, when he received a cortisone shot in his right hand — he later entered the game as a defensive replacement.
If Victorino gets the day off Saturday — Shields is slated to start — the respite will likely be a short one, as the manager foresees his regular centerfielder returning to the lineup after one game.
“Unless we score about 10 runs,” Manuel joked.