Raul Ibanez is not hurt.
“I’m not hurt,” said Raul Ibanez, testily.
“He’s not hurt,” said manager Charlie Manuel, affably.
He’s making sure Ibanez stays that way.
When a recently injured, 36-year-old, lefthanded hitter who leads the team in homers and slugging percentage is out of the lineup against a righthanded pitcher, well, the question is worth asking.
Manuel explained that the Phillies held Ibanez out today because Tuesday’s game went 13 innings. Ibanez missed 3 weeks with a left groin strain. He has been back in the lineup for less than 2 weeks.
Ibanez played all 13 innings in Tuesday night’s win over the Cubs. He had a long, awkward run to his right early in the game. He then dived to make a catch late in the game. So, yes, there might have been something achy or tweaked or balky yesterday morning.
“There isn’t,” Manuel said. “This is just a good day to give him off.”
Manuel told Ibanez on Tuesday night he probably wouldn’t play him today, despite the Phillies’ facing Carlos Zambrano (whom Ibanez never has faced).
This morning, Ibanez went into Manuel’s office and said he wanted to start. Manuel appreciated the eagerness.
“We’ll turn him loose full-speed in a couple of weeks,” Manuel said.