Phillies' bats still struggling to produce consistently

Phillies' bats still struggling to produce consistently
May 2, 2013, 6:45 pm
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John Mayberry Jr. is batting .242 with two home runs and six RBIs this season. (USA Today Images)

With Ben Revere out for Thursday’s game with a bruised index finger, the lineup shuffling continued for manger Charlie Manuel.

A month into the season, Phillies hitters have yet to produce consistently, forcing Manuel to try different lineup combinations. John Mayberry will start in center for Revere and hit seventh (see story).

“We’ll find out [if it works],” Manuel said. “I’m playing everybody. Everybody here gets to play as much as possible.

“I think we have a chance to [produce]. I think we are going to hit better and score more runs. I think once we get [Carlos] Ruiz going and Delmon Young going, and not only that, our bench is going to become stronger. We get more parts we can shift around.”

During the their recent three-game sweep of the Mets, the Phils scored 18 runs while batting .247. But the bats went silent against Cleveland and produced just two runs to the Indians' 20. Two things Manuel doesn’t see lacking are his players' effort and pride, as Cliff Lee referenced following Wednesday’s loss to the Indians (see story).

“I think the effort's there. When you come over before the game and you see us how we approach it,” Manuel said. “Like I said, when you don’t hit or score runs or don’t pitch, you don’t look good.”

Manuel doesn’t see friction forming between the hitters and the pitchers.

“I’m sure when you go and don’t score runs, it’s natural for a pitcher to say something because that’s the competitive part about you. You want to do good and win," he said.

“I think when you lose a game or something like that, or when you’re mad or you’re upset, I think you say some things that come out. As for what exactly he meant, I don’t know. But at the same time, to me what he meant was, ‘Hey, we got to get after it more … and do better.’”

The look of the team will ultimately depend on if the hitters are producing at the plate, and if the Phillies are winning as a team.

“I think how we play shows up. I think when you’re hitting the ball, I think you look better. When you win the game, of course it looks better,” Manuel said. “I think sometimes when you don’t hit, then you look lethargic and you look kind of dead, but that’s not necessarily the case. That’s sometimes how the game goes.”

As for Revere, Manuel said his centerfielder was out of the lineup because of a bruised finger suffered Wednesday night -- Revere got stepped on while sliding into second -- and not because of his struggles at the plate.

“It’s just kind of hard for me to wrap it around the bat,” Revere said. “I’ll probably be out there tomorrow. There’s just a bunch of swelling.”

Mayberry, who didn't play in the Phils' 6-0 loss to Cleveland Wednesday, has a modest three-game hitting streak (3 for 11 with a double) coming into Thursday's game.

“Mayberry’s been playing good,” Manuel. “[Revere’s] finger definitely made it easier to put Mayberry in there.”

When Revere does return, he'll need to find a way to get on base more frequently. He is batting .204 with a .245 on-base percentage and has scored nine runs.

“I’ve been hitting the ball hard, but right at people,” Revere said. “I never get doubled up a lot ever in my career, but I’m doing it a bunch right now. I’m hitting the ball hard, but right at them. It’s just baseball. You just got to find those holes.”

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