PITTSBURGH - To activate Shane Victorino, the Phillies were forced to make what Charlie Manuel called a "tough" roster decision, and that culminated with John Mayberry Jr. and the manager having a discussion.
Manuel told the 27-year-old outfielder he liked him. That was understood; 18 starts in May expressed as much. But Mayberry had an option remaining, and the Phillies chose flexibility.
"He said, 'What do I need to do? What do I need to improve on?' " Manuel recalled. "I told him he needs to hit righthanded pitchers better. He'll be getting to play every day, and he'll get at-bats. We figured he wasn't going to get much playing time. There's some things that made it tough."
It's not that Mayberry had a chance to maintain a spot on the roster. But he hit .187 with a .580 OPS in 28 games since May 1. The Phillies view him as a potential bench cog down the line, but Manuel said Mayberry is not ready to be a full-time pinch-hitter. He still needs at-bats to stay sharp.
So that means Rule 5 pick Michael Martinez sticks, even with a .184 batting average in 49 at-bats. The Phillies, still devoted to resting Chase Utley and his balky right knee on a regular basis, want a second backup infielder in addition to Wilson Valdez. They also did not want to risk losing Martinez, 28, who would have had to clear waivers and then be offered back to his original team, the Washington Nationals, before being demoted.
It leaves a bench with questions and limited power in the form of Ross Gload and Ben Francisco. Gload, hampered by a hip injury, does not have an extra-base hit. Francisco is tied for third on the team with six home runs.
Manuel said he expects the team to bolster the bench before the trade deadline if it's deemed necessary.
That would be the main point to take away from Friday's roster move: By no means is this the bench the Phillies will carry for the rest of the season. It's possible Mayberry returns when the team needs a designated hitter in interleague play later this month. Even trades after the deadline, like the ones for Matt Stairs and Mike Sweeney, have added pop in the past.
Both Brad Lidge (rotator cuff) and Brian Schneider (hamstring) had their recoveries in Florida interrupted. Lidge was scheduled to pitch in another extended spring training game Friday but experienced soreness in his shoulder after his last game Tuesday and was pushed back, assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. Lidge will resume throwing Saturday, but not in a game.
Schneider, on the disabled list since May 12, had a setback last week while running the bases and had to restart his rehab process, Proefrock said. There is no timetable for his return, but he hit and took batting practice in Clearwater on Friday.
Top prospect Jonathan Singleton is moving back to first base after playing left field this season at single-A Clearwater. He played last season as a first baseman, but with Ryan Howard signed through 2016, the Phillies decided to take a look at Singleton in left field. . . . If the Phillies were to need a backup first baseman and Gload was unable to play, Manuel said, he would use either Utley or Valdez. . . . Manuel said he plans on pinch-running for Gload if he is on base in a "big situation." . . . Kyle Kendrick will make a spot start Saturday and said he should be able to throw about 65 pitches.