Phillies still feel like contenders

Phillies still feel like contenders

Phillies still feel like contenders
TORONTO -- The Phillies currently sit in a place they aren't all that used to: the basement of the National League East.

Entering Saturday's contest against the Blue Jays, Philadelphia was nine games behind the first-place Nationals. But the club is not ready to start hanging its heads.

Injuries to All-Stars Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay -- and now catcher Carlos Ruiz for an undetermined amount of time -- have decimated the perennial contenders, among the game's elite clubs in recent years.

John Mayberry Jr., who made his Major League debut with the Phillies in 2009, has seen the injuries happen before and knows this group is fully capable of pulling themselves out of this rut.

"We've had a series of mishaps with injuries, but you have to stay after it, be resilient," said Mayberry Jr., who got the start in left field on Saturday. "That's something this team has done in the past. It seems like somebody has always been there to step up -- and hopefully this year it will be the same way."

Veteran Juan Pierre voiced similar sentiments as Mayberry Jr., and said while the injuries are difficult to deal with, the team is not about to start feeling sorry for itself.

"[We] just have to weather the storm, it's everywhere," Pierre said. "Injuries happen. You just have to deal with [them]. The guys in here realize the injuries. But once the umpire says, 'Play ball,' you have a job to do. ... Hopefully, we will start doing it more consistently."

Philadelphia went 4-10 over its first 14 games in June and has been unable to string together a winning streak.

To make matters worse, Pierre says the NL East is the best he has ever seen it. Yet, when he looks around the clubhouse, he still sees a collection of players that knows how to win.

"We are still in striking distance, I believe," Pierre said. "Once we get hot, we will be right there. I think the division will beat up on each other so much that no team will pull away. I think it will be a race that comes down to the end.

"There are no slouches. We are in last place, and we don't feel like we are a last-place team."