Its a few minutes after the Phillies meekly lost their home opener, 6-2, to the Marlins Monday afternoon, and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has just been asked about the teams lack of power.
Where are the home runs going to come from? Wheres the power going to come from? Wheres the pop?
Manuel thinks for a moment and then almost sheepishly mentions a few guys:
1) Hunter Pence, a decent long-ball hitter whos averaged 23 homers per year since entering the majors in 2007;
2) Ty Wigginton, a journeyman now with his sixth team in nine years whos averaged 16 homers a year in 10 major-league seasons;
3) Laynce Nix, whos never hit more than 16 homers in nine big-league seasons.
And thats his list.
Those are the guys that are capable of hitting it out of the yard, Manuel said. The rest of our guys are singles, doubles hitters.
As recently as 2009, the Phils were second in the majors with 224 home runs, and Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez and Chase Utley each had more than 30 bombs that year.
In 2010, they still ranked ninth in the majors with 166 homers and then last year they dropped to 18th with 153 -- their fewest in 11 years.
Through four games this year, the Phils have hit just one home run, tied for last in baseball with the Angels and Pirates.
Pence has the Phillies only home run four games into the season, a solo shot off the Pirates James McDonald on Sunday in Pittsburgh.
We dont have much power, Manuel said. We dont have much power right now.
This is the first time since 2004 that the Phillies have hit just one home run through four games. In 2004, their only homer in the first four games came from Mike Lieberthal. They also had just one through four games in 2003, when their only homer came from David Bell.
Manufacturing runs has never come easily to this team. Theyve won over the years with a combination of terrific starting pitching and bruising power hitting. The pitching is still there, but the power is dwindling and has been for a couple years.
Which is why the Phils have scored only eight runs through four games and are sitting 1-3 with an off day Tuesday.
Yes, its only four games, but the alarming thing is that the early lack of power is only continuing a trend thats seen the Phillies go from one of the leagues top power teams to one of the worst.
With Howard (286 career homers) and Chase Utley (188 career homers) sidelined indefinitely with injuries, the Phils lineup is desperately lacking long-ball punch.
Do we miss those two guys? Sure, Shane Victorino said. Missing those guys is big. But the reality is were way too good a team to worry about it.
The lineup Manuel put out for Mondays home opener against the Marlins? Pence is the only proven power hitter, and hes never hit more than 25 home runs in a season.
Juan Pierre has 16 homers in 12 years. Placido Polanco once hit 17 in a season but has averaged just 8.5 homers the last seven years. Rollins has averaged 14 homers in four seasons since hitting his 30 in 2007. Victorino has 77 bombs in six full seasons. John Mayberry has 21 big-league homers and Carlos Ruiz 36.
And thats it.
Theres Jimmy Rollins and Jim Thome, but Thome hasnt played first base in like four years and were kind of taking him slowly and when we got him we figured he wouldnt be playing a whole lot, Manuel said. Jimmy and Victorino, they can hit 15 or 20. I think Jimmy hit 30 one year. They can hit some. But at the same time, Id call them more line-drive hitters.
The Phillies also only have three doubles, their fewest through four games since 1992, when they also had three -- one by Wes Chamberlain, one by Darren Daulton and one by Ruben Amaro, currently the teams general manager.
Their four extra-base hits are fewest in baseball -- the Cardinals already have 20. Their .244 slugging percentage is second-worst in the majors, ahead of only the Twins .240 mark.
Howard, rehabbing after blowing out his Achilles on the final pitch of the 2011 season, was with the Phillies Monday for the first time since they broke camp in Clearwater.
Hes still a couple months away from playing.
It was good to see him, Manuel said. But I couldnt put him in the lineup.
E-mail Reuben Frank at email@example.com.