Phillies LF John Mayberry makes a catch at the wall in the 5th inning off the bat of Pittsburgh's Clint Barmes. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Since 2009 when John Mayberry got his first taste as a Phillie he knew that he would do whatever it would take to get back on the big league roster.
A few seasons removed from that, Mayberry has found himself a lock for the Opening Day roster the last two seasons. And he’s starting to make a trend of coming big in those first games of the season.
In the 2011 opener at home, Mayberry completed a three-run 9th inning come back when he ripped a pinch-hit walk-off single over the head of Astros centerfielder Michael Bourn.
There were no late-game heroics yesterday but Mayberry made his presence in the line up known throughout the game.
Mayberry started in left field and made numerous grabs at the wall in the spacious left field of PNC Park in Pittsburgh. And at the plate, Mayberry went 2-for-4 including a double that set up Carlos Ruiz’s sacrifice fly to score Ty Wigginton in the 7th.
“It was awesome,” Mayberry said after the game. “It was a great feeling to start my first Opening Day, and it was great to just kind of a spin-off of last year, I guess.”
Mayberry almost wasn’t going to be in the Phillies line up yesterday. He struggled all spring while Juan Pierre thrived, and it led many to believe Pierre would hit out of the lead-off spot.
It was a shock to some that manager Charlie Manuel stuck with his gut and inserted Mayberry in the Opening Day line up.
“I looked at how Mayberry played at the end of last year,” Manuel said of Mayberry, who in fact lit up the scoreboard in the second half of last season.
Many are hoping this will be a break-out season for Mayberry, especially with the Phillies lacking in offensive fire power to start the season. Players like Mayberry will be counted on to contribute such as he did yesterday.
For now, the season is young, and the expectations still high for both Mayberry and the rest of his team.