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News » Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2009-04-22

Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2009-04-22

Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2009-04-22
Raul Ibanez played the past five seasons in Seattle, far from the glare of the East Coast-oriented spotlight. Before that, he emerged as an everyday player in Kansas City, a small market even by Midwest standards.

Thus, he has been the rarest of commodities: an underrated 100-RBI slugger.

But it has taken only 11 games for Ibanez to show the Phillies how good he is. He had a walk-off, two-run homer Sunday against the San Diego Padres, and Ibanez was batting .383 (18-for-47) with 11 RBIs and a team-leading five home runs after Tuesday night's 11-4 victory in the series opener against the Milwaukee Brewers at Citizens Bank Park.

It has been the little things, though, that have caught manager Charlie Manuel's attention. To wit: In the eighth inning Saturday night, Ibanez scooted from first to third on Jayson Werth's single to center field, then scored on Pedro Feliz's sacrifice fly. At the time, Ibanez was the go-ahead run.

On Tuesday night, Ibanez walked, stole second base and went to third on a wild pitch in a five-run fifth inning. He isn't the fastest runner, but he has shown intelligence and good instincts on the bases.

"So far, he's proved that he plays a steady left field, and he's definitely a good baserunner," Manuel said. "He's taking the extra base. He tags up on balls and moves up a base, especially when the ball is hit deep in the outfield. He gets a jump off third. You can play contact baseball with him. He's done a good job for us. From what I've seen so far, he plays the game hard, and he wants to play it right."

The fans have noticed, saluting him with a "Ra-uuuul" chant before his at-bats. But attention has never mattered to Ibanez. Not since 2000, at least, when noted sports psychiatrist Harvey Dorfman taught him to block out external distractions and focus only the game.

"What people say or think, I can't control that, so it doesn't enter my mind," said Ibanez, whose three-year, $31.5 million contract was questioned by some fans who preferred the Phils keep longtime left fielder Pat Burrell. "I choose to focus on things I can control -- my approach, my attitude, my intensity, my discipline. If you focus on things that are outside, it's not good."

PHILLIES 11, BREWERS 4: Pedro Feliz picked up three hits, including a solo home run, to lift the Phillies to a victory in the opener of a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park. Jamie Moyer allowed four runs on seven hits in six innings to earn the victory. The Phillies scored four first-inning runs and five in the fifth. Each member of the Philadelphia starting lineup reached base.

The game was delayed by rain for 78 minutes in the top of the seventh inning.

The Phils have won six straight games against the Brewers, five straight at Citizens Bank Park. During that six-game span, they have outscored Milwaukee 40-15.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 22, 2009

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