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Ibanez gets Phils on track


Ibanez gets Phils on track
Jayson Werth felt that Raul Ibanez deserved to go to the White House. Recently, the Phillies determined that only members of their 2008 team would be invited to receive congratulations for their World Series victory from President Obama.But Werth told Ibanez, signed during the off-season from Seattle, that he was a Phillie now and should attend."No, no, you enjoy it," said Ibanez, 36. "But let's do it again next year."Yesterday, he was the man of the moment in a 5-4 victory over San Diego. His quiet, friendly intensity has provided the Phillies with a different clubhouse presence, and his hunger to win has helped the team avoid complacency.

He lifted the Phils from weeklong doldrums and redeemed a costly miscue in the outfield with a two-run, walk-off home run that defeated the Padres at Citizens Bank Park. It was the team's first win since Monday, the day that longtime announcer Harry Kalas died.Ibanez was unwilling to praise himself, saying that the win was "a great collective effort." But Werth, who grew close with Ibanez during spring training when the two were assigned nearby lockers, said that the new outfielder had succeeded in replacing leftfielder Pat Burrell by providing an entirely different style of leadership."Burrell had such a big presence in the clubhouse, and you thought that he would be hard to replace," Werth said. "Ibanez doesn't have the same personality, but he fits in unbelievably. He brings a dignity to the team. He's an older guy, but he's full of energy. He's a pillar."Ibanez said that his approach to everything - hitting, fielding, preparation, or assimilating into a new team - is simple: He focuses only on the moment. This matches the philosophy of daily professionalism and simplicity that manager Charlie Manuel preaches to his team."I try to ignore everything and take care of things I can control," Ibanez said.Yesterday, he used that mind-set to overcome an ugly play in the third inning. With a runner on first, San Diego's Edgar Gonzalez lined a pitch to left, and a diving Ibanez mistimed the ball, which rolled to the wall. A run scored, and the batter landed on third with a triple. Gonzalez then scored on a Brian Giles groundout, making the play - scored a base hit - a two-run miscue.Ibanez said he had a good jump on the ball, but a last-second topspin caused him to lose it. "I slid to catch it," he said. "And it darted down."Though defense is not the strongest element of his game, Ibanez was able to atone for the shortcoming yesterday.His home run was a result of the work he's done to acclimate himself to a new league. For example, Ibanez has asked Chase Utley to share his expertise while watching video of National League pitchers, and the leftfielder has discussed many elements of the game with Werth.Yesterday, his teammates savored the reward of that effort, happy to enjoy a new personality.Said Werth: "He's just a good dude to have around."Contact staff writer Andy Martino at 215-854-4874 or amartino@phillynews.com.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 20, 2009

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