A word on Mayberry

Phillies outfielder John Mayberry Jr. is hitting .191 this spring. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The volume of questions about John Mayberry Jr. has expanded in recent days. The majority sound something like this: "Should we worry?"

If it's spring stats that make you worry, then absolutely not.

Yes, Mayberry is tied for the team lead in Grapefruit League at-bats with 68 and he is currently toting a .191/.247/.250 slash line. He's 13 for 68 and four of those hits are doubles. He has no home runs and has struck out 10 times with five walks.

It hasn't been pretty; few times has Mayberry squared up the ball.

What is your gut feeling about the Phillies?

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But how soon we forget Ben Francisco. Certainly you'll remember Francisco began 2011 as the Phillies starting right fielder. He came to camp with purpose and it showed. He batted .361/.439/.667 in 72 Grapefruit League at-bats. Eleven of his 26 hits were for extra bases, including a team-leading five home runs.

By the end of May, of course, Francisco was on the bench. From April 1 to May 20, Francisco hit .221/.331/.368 in 136 at-bats. On May 21, Domonic Brown was recalled from triple-A Lehigh Valley to assume the majority of playing time. Later, Hunter Pence filled right field.

This is a roundabout way of stating the irrelevancy of spring stats. Sure, they sometimes are a tool for teams to make roster decisions. But, mostly, a spring won't make or break a player.

Now, back to that question: Should you worry? There should be trepidation. Even if Mayberry was hitting .600 with seven home runs this spring, there would still be pause. The Phillies have no clue what to expect from Mayberry. His second half in 2011 was a revelation, but hardly a coronation. Before spring training started, we examined why it was impossible to be sold on Mayberry as an everyday player. None of that changes with a good or bad spring.

And it's this writer's opinion that Mayberry is the most important offensive piece in a new Phillies reality that excludes Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.

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