Mackanin tries another trick to help offense

Mackanin tries another trick to help offense

PHILADELPHIA -- Is there anything Pete Mackanin has not tried to help the Phillies' offense this season?

Mackanin ordered his hitters not to pick up a bat before Monday's 3-1 loss to the D-backs at Citizens Bank Park. No hitting on the field. No hitting in the cage, which is a short walk from the Phillies' clubhouse. Nothing.

"Just show and go," said Mackanin, who also gave the team an unusually late 11:45 a.m. report time for the 1:05 p.m. game. "Change the vibe. Whether it's good or not, I don't know, but it's something different. Try something."

"We did that a couple times in St. Louis," Phillies right fielder Peter Bourjos said. "You showed up late to the field and the cages were closed. Just try to get your head away from the mechanics side of it, just take it into the game -- see ball, hit ball."

The Phillies managed just six hits in the loss, which continued a troubling trend. They are averaging a mere 3.11 runs per game this season, which ranks last in baseball. No team has averaged fewer runs per game in a non-strike-shortened season since 1972, when the Angels (2.93), Rangers (2.99) and Indians (3.03) each endured offensive struggles.

The Phillies are 6-24 since their surprising 24-17 start. They just went 0-6 on a homestand against Toronto and Arizona. Incredibly, it is their first winless homestand of six or more games since September 1964, when the Phillies went 0-7 at Connie Mack Stadium.

Perhaps a nine-game road trip will help, even if just a little bit? The Phillies are hitting .214 with a .612 OPS at home, compared to .237 with a .668 OPS on the road.

"It's very frustrating," Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera said through an interpreter. "Where there is frustration, there is some anger there, I guess. It's very hard, because we are giving 100 percent and it's not working out for us. But we need to keep mentally strong and keep fighting, because we know it's going to get better."

But the personnel is the personnel, and there is only so much a team or manager can do.

Still, the Phillies push on.

"It's been a grind all year," Bourjos said. "You come to the field every day, trying to win and trying to put together good at-bats. You feel for the pitching staff, because they've pitched well and I think it's starting to catch up a little bit."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.