Saturday, December 27, 2014

Help wanted: Manuel thinks Phils need a righthanded bat

Charlie Manuel verbally posted a help wanted sign Wednesday afternoon.

Help wanted: Manuel thinks Phils need a righthanded bat

Ben Francisco hit the game-winning single during Tuesday´s game, but he lacks the consistency Charlie Manuel is hoping for. (Jeff Roberson/AP)
Ben Francisco hit the game-winning single during Tuesday's game, but he lacks the consistency Charlie Manuel is hoping for. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

Charlie Manuel verbally posted a help wanted sign Wednesday afternoon.

The Phillies manager made it clear that he believes his team needs a right-handed bat to improve the lineup.

"We could use a hitter in our lineup -- at least one," Manuel said. "We could definitely use a solid right-handed hitter."

The follow-up question was whether Manuel felt he needed that right-handed bat to win the World Series, the only acceptable goal for a team that has stockpiled aces in its starting rotation.

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"I'll put it to you like this: Our odds get better if we have one," Manuel said.

Ben Francisco, a right-handed hitter, was back in the lineup Wednesday after delivering a pinch-hit single that provided the game-winning run Tuesday. Manuel, however, is looking for something more than Francisco, who is hitting .222 with six home runs and 26 RBIs.

Francisco and John Mayberry Jr. were both given shots to nail down spots in the lineup, but both failed to do so. Now rookie right fielder Domonic Brown is also in the midst of a prolonged slump, hitting .148 (9-for-61) in June.

Manuel's No. 5 hitters have batted .207 this season and his right fielders have hit .221.

Recently, Manuel has tried third baseman Placido Polanco in the five hole, but he has hit just .115 (3-for-26) from that position. Polanco was back in that spot Wednesday after leaving Tuesday's game when he was hit in the left pinky by a pitch from St. Louis' Jason Motte.

Given all the above facts, it's easy to understand why Manuel would want something more.

"I don't want something that we got," Manuel said. "I want something better. I want a hitter. I want a consistent, consistent hitter. But when you ask somebody, those are hard to find."

Some names have been thrown around with Minnesota's Michael Cuddyer, Oakland's Josh Willingham and San Diego's Ryan Ludwick among them.

With the Twins riding a 9-game winning streak and within 6 1/2 games of first place in the A.L. Central, they may be unwilling to part with Cuddyer. Oakland, which will be in Philadelphia for a three-game series this weekend, has won six in a row and remains in contention in a weak A.L. West.

There is no sign that the Padres will get back in the N.L. West race, which could mean Ludwick is the most available of the three players listed above. He has nine home runs and 45 RBIs playing most of his games in pitcher friendly Petco Park.

Ibanez sits

After recovering from a terrible April by hitting .315 with seven home runs and 19 RBIs in May, Raul Ibanez has batted .221 with no home runs and three RBIs in June. His overall average is down to .240 and he has hit just .168 for the season on the road.

Manuel sat Ibanez Wednesday in favor of Francisco.

"I think in the course of a 162-game season, somewhere down the line a guy can get tired," Manuel said. "I think when I look at Raul right now, he just needs a blow. That's the way I used to feel about Pat Burrell. I'd get him off his feet for a couple days and I'd get him back in the game and see how he goes. From a mental aspect, too, I want to get him away from the game for a while."

Manuel would not say if he plans to sit Ibanez again in the series finale with St. Louis Thursday night.


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