Ibanez Heats Up, Rookie tosses another gem for Phillies

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report.

With the way he was hitting in the Phillies 7-4 win over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, you would never know that Raul Ibanez, nearly 30 hours earlier, was mired in an awful 0-for-34 drought.

But in his last eight at-bats, the veteran left fielder has been 5-for-8 including Wednesday’s 3-for -4 performance in which he hit a solo homerun. In a short span of time, Ibanez’s deep freeze has turned into a heatwave.

“The only way I have to function is to pretend that it never happened and just move forward,” Ibanez said Tuesday.

Ibanez’s performance in the second game of the Phils series against the Nationals definitely proved the merits of having a short memory. The Phillies left fielder is finally finding his groove for the moment and has a better command of what he’s doing at the plate.

“I feel better at the plate and I’m starting to feel comfortable and I’m seeing the ball better,” Ibanez said.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said Ibanez is becoming more aggressive at the plate and that sometimes getting that first hit the previous night helped his confidence. He also said when a player goes into a slump, there is a tendency to over analyze things.

“He stayed on the ball better, his bat looked quick, and he moved a little closer to the plate,” Manuel said. “A lot of it is definitely mental, but at the same time, he’s starting to get some hits and that’s how you get your confidence, that’s how you starting seeing the ball good again. Everyday is different.”

More arms on standby for the Phillies

Everyone around baseball knows the Phils have one of the best starting rotations in baseball. If rookie pitcher Vance Worley (2-0) keeps up the performance of his last two outings, the Phillies may not have to worry about much if one of their four No. 1 starters falls victim to injury.

Against the Nationals on Wednesday, Worley had another stellar outing in place of the injured Joe Blanton, who is on the 15-day disabled list. In six innings of work, Worley allowed just one run on four hits with seven strikeouts-including five in the first three innings.

In his last outing against the New York Mets on April 29, he threw six shutout innings. In his first two starts, he has a 0.75 earned run average. Worley, who started his season at Triple A Lehigh-Valley, said he likes to take on all comers when he’s on the mound and he’s doing everything he can to stay with the Phillies for the rest of the season.

“I’ve always been the kind of guy that likes to go out there and compete,” Worley said. “If you throw a bigger name guy out there, I love to go against him. That’s always been my thing growing up. I want to stick around as long as I can.”

Worley will get more chances on the mound and the question for him will be whether or not he can do it over a long period of time. Right now, he is at the stage where the book on him isn’t out just yet because he’s only 23-years-old and folks around the league are seeing him for the first time.

Remember Kyle Kendrick back in 2007 started off hot, but then cooled down when teams started dissecting his strengths and weaknesses. He had to spend some time in the minors to develop an arsenal of pitches.

If anything, Manuel likes his potential and how he can fill the void if one of his starting pitchers goes down with an injury.

“He’s got good stuff, keeps his composure and stays focused on what he’s doing,” Manuel said. “Worley shows that he can pitch.”

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