For the third time in 11 games, Charlie Manuel did not insert Jayson Werth into his starting lineup for Tuesday night's game against Florida. The Phillies rightfielder is mired in a slump - much like most of his teammates - but Manuel sees it differently with Werth.
Werth needs to get off his feet and clear his mind, Manuel said.
"He's definitely trying too hard," Manuel said.
Part of it, Manuel admitted, could be because of Werth's contract situation. He expects a major payday at the end of this season, when his deal with the Phillies expires.
"I think something like that has to" affect him, Manuel said. "It has to. I definitely think that. I think everyone is like that. Even if a guy is quiet, I know it does. I know in his mind that he thinks like that. He really got off to a tremendous start, and when things started going a little bad for him, he thinks about it. But he's going to be fine."
After the game, Werth said he was bothered to hear what Manuel said.
"Thinking about a contract is the last thing on my mind," Werth said.
Werth struck out to end the last two Phillies losses. He is 3 for his last 38 at-bats with 17 strikeouts. (He also hasn't had a hit in his last 10 at-bats.)
Manuel would not say if he planned on sitting Werth for more than one day, similar to the move he made with Jimmy Rollins last season. Werth was OK with the decision, Manuel said.
"He understands where I'm coming from," the manager said. "I think I have very good communication and understanding with Jayson. We've all talked about the talent he has, and anytime you can slow him down and let him use his talent, that's what really works for him. Right now, he needs a blow to get him off his feet."
Werth's batting average, which was .327 on May 25, has dipped to .278. He is still tied for the team lead in home runs (10) and is second in RBIs (37).
"He's got upside that hasn't been tapped yet," Manuel said, "if he ever learns to relax and harness it and just fall in love with the game and play it. He has a chance to be really good."
There wasn't one moment, Raul Ibanez said. His latest revelation about what he's been doing wrong at the plate came over time.
"It's a lot of pieces of video," the leftfielder said, "and a lot of hard work."
On Monday, Ibanez said he had figured out some of his struggles. Most of it has to do with taking a shorter path to the ball. He hasn't been in the right position, which has caused a decrease in bat speed, he said.
"It's coming," Ibanez said. "I feel really good about it probably for the first time all year."
Ibanez said off-season abdominal surgery shortened his normal prep time from 18 weeks to six. That's less time to build up muscle mass, he said.
Hitting coach Milt Thompson said Ibanez's timing has never been right this season.
"I see him getting beat by more fastballs than I've ever seen," Thompson said.