SAN FRANCISCO - When Greg Gross looks at John Mayberry Jr. before games, he does not see a player who is pressing. The outfielder's work habits have not changed. He is not inclined to experiment during a slump.
Then Mayberry steps to the plate, and he often crouches too much before a pitch is delivered.
"The change creeps in when things aren't going quite right," said Gross, the Phillies hitting coach. "When the results aren't there, he has a tendency to grind it out more. When he gets in that mode, he's like, 'I'm going to really make sure, really make sure.' And he gets bent over a little bit."
Gross does not see a flaw in Mayberry's swing. It's in his stance and positioning. And even then, Gross said, there are no drastic differences from his successful ride last summer. But there are tiny mistakes, and Gross has emphasized them using video work with Mayberry.
Mayberry has one extra-base hit, and that came in the season's first game. Entering Wednesday, he had struck out nine times and walked none. His strikeout rate, once a major obstacle to his playing regularly, has skyrocketed again.
"He's conscious of trying to get that feel of where he was last year," Gross said.
Manager Charlie Manuel did not start Mayberry on Wednesday. The Phillies entered the season with high expectations for the 28-year-old and are banking on significant production from him.
Manuel issued a strong defense of Mayberry.
"He'll get to play," the manager said. "He'll get a chance to get going. But he'll play more if he starts hitting like he did in the second half of the season last year. That's kind of where it's at. I didn't give up on him.
"I'm not down on John and I don't want him to get down on himself. He'll get every chance in the world to get his swing. We've played 11 games."
Happy for Moyer
Once Jamie Moyer said he planned to return from Tommy John surgery, Cole Hamels had no doubts.
"I totally believed him," the 28-year-old lefthander said. "When he's got certain agendas, he's going to go get them. That just shows the type of work ethic he has. It's pretty incredible to be that old. I don't know how I'd feel when I'm at that age, but I know I probably won't be throwing a baseball."
Moyer, at the age of 49 years and 150 days, became the oldest pitcher in baseball history to win a game Tuesday night when Colorado beat San Diego, 5-3.
Hamels predicted that the former Phillie and Sellersville native will hold the record forever. Manuel said he will congratulate Moyer when the Rockies come to Philadelphia in June.
"He better not pitch against us and beat us," Manuel said, smiling. "Then I'm really going to be mad."
Joe Blanton ran the stadium steps and did laps around the warning track at AT&T Park. His Tuesday night had ended after the fifth inning of a 4-2 loss, earlier than Blanton wanted, but he was not egregiously bad.
"We still had a chance to win the game," Manuel said.
Blanton allowed 11 hits, but a few were on broken bats and hit in the right spots. Others were hit hard.
"It was that kind of day," Blanton said. "But I'll give them credit, though, because I felt like they were tough pitches and they got the bat on the ball."
Vance Worley will start Thursday at San Diego's Petco Park to begin a four-game weekend series. The Phillies will face righthanders Joe Wieland, Edinson Volquez, Anthony Bass, and lefty Cory Luebke in the series.