Jayson Werth used to come into Charlie Manuel’s office and ask the manager why he wasn’t playing more.
“Jayson used to come in and ask me how come he isn’t playing, and I’d say because you have to hit right-handed pitchers better,” Manuel recalled Wednesday afternoon before the Phillies' series finale against the Mets. “And he started hitting right-hand pitchers, and he won a job, and that’s kind of how it goes.”
Manuel wasn’t making a point about Werth, who spent four years with the Phillies before signing with the Nationals after the 2010 season. He was talking about John Mayberry, who finds himself in a similar position than Werth was when he came over from the Dodgers.
If he hits, he’ll play. If he doesn’t hit, he won’t play. And he’s not getting a whole lot of chances to show that he can hit.
Mayberry had a double, homer and three RBIs in the Phillies’ win over the Mets on Tuesday, raising his average to .333 a week into the season. Mayberry has just 15 at-bats this year but already has three doubles.
For Mayberry, the hot start has come on the heels of a poor spring training that saw him hit just .192 on 15-for-78.
“He’s trying to find his stroke and keep it,” Manuel said. “Last night he swung the bat good and that’s a good sign. That happens. Sometimes you don’t have a good spring, sometimes you don’t have a good second half of the season, sometimes you don’t have a good first half. Things like that. That’s all part of it. In the meantime, we’ve got to win games.”
Manuel has Mayberry starting again Wednesday against Mets righty Jeremy Hefner and batting seventh.
Right field remains a work in progress as the Phils wait for Delmon Young to return following microfracture surgery on his ankle.
“Until he arrives here, we’re definitely going to play John and we’re going to play [Laynce] Nix and we’re going to play [Ezequiel] Carrera,” Manuel said.
But Nix is hitting .214 and Carrera is hitless so far in four at-bats.
The opportunity is there for Mayberry, who hit .273 in 2011 but just .245 last year.
“Better you play, you’re definitely going to play yourself onto the field of play,” Manuel said. “I’ve talked to John about that three or four times … over the course of the last couple years [about that].”
Manuel said he also has to find a way to get playing time for slick-fielding infielder Freddy Galvis, who hit .226 with 15 doubles in 58 games last year before his season was cut short by both a 50-game suspension for a positive test for a performance-enhancing and a serious back injury.
“We’ve got to get Galvis some playing time if we’re going to keep him here,” Manuel said. “He can’t sit on the bench every day. Definitely, I can find time to get him some playing time.”
Galvis has yet to start a game this year. He’s 0-for-2 as a pinch-hitter but hasn’t even gotten to the plate since the season-opening Atlanta series.
And with infielders Chase Utley (.345, seven RBIs), Jimmy Rollins (.294, four doubles) and Michael Young (.345) all hitting and the usual April off days, the playing time just hasn’t been there for Galvis.
“They’ve been swinging real good and they’ve been looking good right now it’s kind of difficult to get him some playing time, but he will get to play as we go on because there’ll be spots where we can put him in there and use them,” Manuel said. “I’ll put him in the outfield if I think it’s necessary.”
Utley, Rollins and Young are all in Manuel’s lineup once again for the Phillies-Mets game Wednesday evening at Citizens Bank Park. They’ve started every game so far this year.
Manuel said it’s important to get guys like Mayberry, Galvis and Kevin Frandsen at-bats throughout the season so they can be effective if they have to play meaningful games late in the season.
“It’s good when you can have guys you can interchange because it keeps them getting at bats and keeps them sharp,” he said. “Like when Matt Stairs came over here [in 2008], he had 340 at-bats during the season [with Toronto], and he helped us down the stretch because he had been playing.
“You don’t play, you lose your edge, especially hitting, and even sometimes on defense, too.”