The struggling Phillies are going to have to get through at least the next two weeks without the hitter who has been their most productive so far this season.
Raul Ibanez, who was leading the Phillies in hitting (.312) and was second in the National League with 22 home runs and 59 runs batted in, was put on the 15-day disabled list yesterday with a strained left groin.
"It's been a grind for a while," the leftfielder said after the Phillies lost to Toronto, 8-7, at Citizens Bank Park. "Now was the right time."
Ibanez said the groin problem began in April but became more bothersome during the recent trip to the West Coast. The injury was most evident during Wednesday night's 7-1 loss to the Blue Jays when Ibanez limped to first base on a double play and struggled to chase down a fly ball.
Ibanez, whose slugging percentage is .656, is the leader among NL outfielders in the fan balloting for the All-Star Game. He quickly became a crowd favorite at Citizens Bank Park, where the fans chant "Ra-u-u-u-l" each time he gets a hit or makes a play in left field. He also has been hampered by a sore left Achilles tendon. The soreness was caused by a new pair of shoes, and Ibanez said that the issue has been rectified.
The Phillies recalled John Mayberry Jr. from triple-A Lehigh Valley to take Ibanez's roster spot. Mayberry started in right field yesterday while Jayson Werth was shifted to left.
After the game, manager Charlie Manuel said Greg Dobbs would see time in the outfield in the absence of Ibanez.
Aside from missing Sunday's game after playing in 222 straight, Ibanez went 3 for 17 during this homestand. In the two games against the Blue Jays, he went 0 for 8 with five strikeouts, an indication that the injury may have impacted his hitting. Since June 2, his average has dropped from .340 to .312.
"Oh, it's affected his play," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "Raul kind of let us know it's been kind of off and on for him beginning in April. Now it's gotten to the point where it started to get debilitating, and we can't afford to lose him and don't want to lose him for a long time. So this is the best way to calm it down."
Barring a setback, Ibanez would be eligible to come off the DL on July 3, when the Phillies are home against the Mets.
Amaro said Ibanez was not pleased about going on the DL.
"But we have to kind of see the forest for the trees here," Amaro said. "He stood a chance to really damage the groin if he continued to play on it. And if he did that, he could be out for a very, very long period of time, and it just doesn't make any sense for us to do that with him."
Said Ibanez: "They talked sense into me, and they know more than I do when it comes to medical stuff. It's better to lose time now than in August or September. This isn't a worst-case scenario."
Ibanez was scheduled for an MRI exam last night.