Do the Phillies have a regular centerfielder?
It's a question that was worth asking after Charlie Manuel posted his lineup for Thursday's game against the Marlins, as John Mayberry Jr. is starting at the position against Marlins righthander Alex Sanabia. Manuel, who will meet with the media in about an hour, is likely remembering the last time the Phillies faced Sanabia. It was in 2011, and Mayberry went 2-for-4 with a solo home run, the only run the Phillies scored in six innings against the Marlins starter.
The fact that Manuel is playing a matchup in centerfield speaks volumes about his concern with the struggles of Ben Revere. Revere, who has a .245 on base percentage and a .471 OPS, started both games against the Indians after a four-game benching that saw Mayberry start three times in center field and Ezequiel Carrera start once. Manuel dealt with struggling hitters in similar fashion before, giving them an extended stretch on the bench before reintroducing them to the lineup. But the Phillies had the benefit of the DH in Cleveland, and thus could start an extra hitter. And now that the DH is gone, so is Revere.
There are, of course, a number of bits of context to factor into the situation. One, it's early, and while Revere was never an offensive dynamo during his two seasons in Minnesota, he did have far better results than he is having right now. Two, Mayberry had that home run against Sanabia, and while one game from two seasons ago is a rather limited sample size, Manuel has made similar decisions before. Three, Vance Worley, who was the centerpiece of the trade for Revere this offseason, has struggled in six starts for the Twins. Through six starts, the right-hander has a 7.22 ERA with 17 strikeouts and nine walks in 28 2/3 innings. The other piece of that trade, Trevor May, has continued to struggle with his command, walking 16 against 24 strikeouts with a 4.62 ERA in 25 1/3 innings for the Twins' Double-A affiliate. Neither May nor Worley really matters when we are discussing the centerfield situation, but at least the Phillies do not have the added insult of thinking that maybe the players they gave up for Revere could be helping them right now. That's not to say that Worley would be struggling in Philadelphia. It's just to say.
But Mayberry appears to be getting an opportunity to play his way into more regular at bats in centerfield now that Delmon Young is starting in rightfield. If he has a big game today, don't be surprised if he is back in there tomorrow. On the other hand, Mayberry hasn't exactly scorched the ball here lately. In his last eight games he is 4-for-28 with a double, a triple, a home run and two walks. Still, those 12 total bases are the same number that Revere has managed in his last 13 games.