Filling a role
The July 31st deadline came and went with the Phillies making an all-in splash by acquiring former Astros outfielder Hunter Pence.
As that date approached, John Mayberry sat relaxed in his locker awaiting last Wednesday's game against the San Francisco Giants. The 6-6 former IronPig was not worried. The tables have turned a bit for this former Stanford Cardinal.
"There is a lot of positive energy going on around here," Mayberry said. "I am feeling more comfortable at the plate and I am getting more playing time."
Through 64 games with Philadelphia and 156 at-bats, Mayberry entered Thursday's game with a .256 batting average with seven home runs and 28 RBI. His recent warm-up could very well be that comfort level.
With a crowded outfield, getting steady playing time was rather difficult. A hitter can become rusty and lose timing if they do not get regular at-bats. This season is different for Mayberry.
"I'm used to it," Mayberry said of the limited role. "I've been doing this for three years now, so I know what to expect."
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel weighed in on Mayberry.
"It's hard to see what a player can do everyday unless you give them a chance," the Phillies skipper said.
As the tense moments of the trade deadline approached, Mayberry's approach was slow and steady.
"I don't get involved in any part of the rumor mill," Mayberry said. "I'm just playing and when the 31st rolls around, I just hope to be playing somewhere."
That somewhere remains the city of Philadelphia. The Phillies sent the struggling Domonic Brown down to Lehigh Valley. Although the acquisition of Pence may limit his playing time some more, Mayberry still has the chance to work on consistency in his skill set in attempts to win an everyday job.
"Consistency is the most important part of the game for any player," Manuel said. "How many guys can master that? Those who do become everyday players."
The race is on!
As August starts, there will be many 'scoreboard' watchers hanging on every pitch. After being swept by the mediocre Buffalo Bisons, the IronPigs embark on an 11-game road trip that started in Scranton-Wilkes Barre.
On Monday night, Roy Oswalt got his second win of the season for the IronPigs as Lehigh Valley won the first game of their series with the Yankees.
Losing the second game proved to be costly. It dropped the IronPigs's lead to just 1.5 games over Pawtucket.
"We go up against a team we battled all year (Scranton) and a team that is right there," Sandberg said. " So it becomes a bigger series in Scranton right now, but we've turned things around on the road before."
After Scranton, the IronPigs (63-48) hop back on the bus and head off to Durham to play four games against the Bulls. They finish the road trip with a trip to Norfolk.
Lehigh Valley returns for a six-game home stand on Friday August 12 for a four game series against the Toledo Mud Hens.