TTB’s own Chris Bengel covered the Philadelphia Phillies game tonight against the Colorado Rockies as a member of the media. Bengel has interned with the Gloucester County Times the past year and was in the press box tonight along with GCT staff writer Bill Evans. The rights to this story belong to GCT and NJ.com
PHILADELPHIA – Right field has been a question mark since spring training began for the Phillies.
John Mayberry Jr. has gotten the chance recently to see if he’s the answer.
With Ben Francisco struggling and Domonic Brown in the midst of an injury-plagued start to the season, Mayberry has a chance to grab hold of the spot. He started the last four games before sitting Thursday.
“I think Mayberry has a lot of ability and I’ve always compared him to (Jayson) Werth,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “He has similar size and a similar running style. To me, he hits lefties better than righties and he has to get better against right-handed pitching.”
Werth came to the Phillies in 2007 as a fifth outfielder and developed into a starter and
eventually an all-star. He left the Phillies this past offseason for a seven-year, $126-million contract with the Washington Nationals.
“Obviously Werth was a very good ballplayer when he was here and has done very well for
himself,” said Mayberry. “Hopefully I can make some of the same improvements that he made when he was in my position.
“I paid close attention to him while he was here. I asked him a lot of questions and tried to get into his mind. I tried to get into his routine and some of the things that he worked on because we have a similar physique.”
Mayberry has spent much of the last two seasons in Triple-A with brief call-ups to the major leagues. This season he is hitting .255 with two home runs, seven RBIs and four stolen bases in 55 at-bats.
“I definitely feel like my swing has gotten better,” said Mayberry. “The biggest thing that Charlie has harped on was getting myself into a better position to hit. I feel like I’ve made strides toward that.
“I sense that there’s an opportunity, but ultimately I just control my performance. I try not to get too wrapped up into how management is thinking and how they’re going to use guys. I just want to put my best foot forward and go from there.”
INJURY UPDATES: Outfielder Shane Victorino says his injured hamstring is feeling better and took a precautionary MRI before Thursday’s game. Results weren’t immediately available.
“I felt fine running, but it’s not 100 percent,” said Victorino. “It’s definitely progressively getting better.”
Victorino pinch-hit in Wednesday’s game against the Rockies but only was asked to lay down a bunt. He jogged to first base on the successful sacrifice.
Despite not having a stellar outing at Class A Clearwater Wednesday night, reliever Jose
Contreras came out of the game healthy. He gave up three runs on four hits in less than an inning of work.
“His fastball was OK,” said Manuel. “I heard he threw pretty good as far as the ball coming out of his hand.”
RANGERS SERIES UPCOMING: The American League champion Texas Rangers will becoming to town this weekend as interleague play begins this season.
Manuel thought that the Phillies would’ve matched up well against the Rangers in last year’s World Series, but the Phillies fell to San Francisco in six games in the NLCS.
“The only thing I’m interested in now is beating them and playing good against them,” said Manuel. “That’s what I want to see.
“We usually have trouble in interleague play, but we had a winning record last year. Hopefully we’re prepared to play better in interleague play than we have over the last few years.”
The Rangers are missing outfielders Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz from their lineup. Hamilton is unlikely to play in the series, but Cruz has a chance to be activated at some point this weekend.