Phillies Notes: Phillies' Mayberry starts in place of Ibanez, but Manuel denies he's platooning

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John Mayberry went 2-4 with a home run on Saturday afternoon against the Mets. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)

Earlier in the week, Charlie Manuel said he was not even close to considering a platoon in left field between Raul Ibanez and John Mayberry Jr. When pressed Friday about Ibanez's lengthening slump and the player's age, Manuel scoffed.

Then he started Mayberry against a lefthanded starting pitcher for the fourth time in the last five opportunities Saturday.

"The more he hits, the more chances he'll get," Manuel said. "We'll go from there."

Mayberry did hit Saturday as he has done in limited opportunities all season. His solo home run in the seventh tied a game the Phillies eventually won, 2-1. He also singled in the fifth.

But Manuel would not come out and say he has established a platoon in left despite evidence suggesting otherwise.

"Right now, I haven't really made my mind up about a platoon system yet," Manuel said. "At the same time, I could be working him in. He can play different positions than left field, too."

Mayberry is hitting .345 (10 for 29). Ibanez, meanwhile, is mired in a 0-for-30 slide that has dropped his batting average to .161 (14 for 87).

That hitless streak is tied as the longest for a Phillies position player since Desi Relaford went 36 at-bats without a hit in 1998.

"We've got a guy who has been playing left field for the last couple of years and he's put up pretty good numbers," Manuel said, referring to Ibanez. "If John's going to play, then he has to move somebody out of the outfield. We'll work him in as much we can."

How much, exactly, remains to be seen.

 

Lidge throws

Playing catch at 60 feet is not the most exciting baseball activity, but for Brad Lidge it was momentous.

On Saturday, Lidge threw a ball with his right hand for the first time since his partially torn rotator cuff was diagnosed at the end of spring training.

"It's a big day for me, for sure," Lidge said.

It marks the beginning of what could be a long process back. Lidge will continue to play catch for a few weeks to build arm strength. Then it's on to long toss, which will lead to finally throwing off a mound in bullpen sessions. Eventually he will pitch in minor-league games for rehab.

"My goal all along is to be back some time in June," Lidge said. "I think that's reachable for sure as long as there aren't any setbacks. But I have to be smart here when we're building up because obviously if you set it off again, it can mean bad things."

 

Extra bases

Carlos Ruiz (sore back) indicated he was feeling better Saturday but still has yet to take swings. He will not play Sunday and could need a few more days for the pain to dissipate. Dane Sardinha started at catcher Saturday and was 0 for 1 with two walks. . . . Ben Francisco was hit on the left foot by a pitch but said he felt fine. . . . The Phillies are 10-0 in day games.