PHILADELPHIA -- Charlie Manuel is in his 50th year of professional baseball and there aren't many things he enjoys more than talking hitting. When it comes to Hunter Pence, though, the Phillies manager admits he really doesn't know what to say.
"Hunter chases bad balls at times. He's different from any hitter I've ever had. We don't want to confuse him. We don't want him to get out of synch with his thinking. The way he approaches hitting, he will always swing at some balls out of the strike zone.
"Now, what we do about it, I don't know. You wouldn't call him a disciplined hitter. He's unorthodox. He's the kind of guy who, if he sees it and thinks he can hit it, he swings at it. Right now you've got to kind of accept that and hope he gets good balls to hit."
Pence leads the Phillies in homers (seven) but is also hitting 42 points under his career .292 average at the beginning of the season. In his last five games he's 2-for-21 (.095), but Manuel is inclined to let him find his own way, pointing out that some of the best hitters in history had less-than-classic swings.
"The old saying is, if it's not broke, don't fix it. That's kind of how I look at Hunter," he added. "My job is to get the most out of him and the best thing we can do, I don't know. I've never had a hitter like him. I don't know how to talk about him, to tell you the truth. He's different from any hitter I've ever talked to. I don't want to send him a bad message, that we don't like the way he hits."
Chooch making case for All-Star berth
PHILADELPHIA -- There were games last season when Charlie Manuel handed in a lineup card featuring a player who had appeared in an All-Star Game at every position but one. The lone exception: Catcher.
Carlos Ruiz is making a strong case to be in Kansas City for this year's Midsummer Classic on July 10.
Going into play Saturday night, Ruiz led all National League receivers in batting average (.340), home runs (six), RBIs (22) and OPS (.987). You want to talk defense? He was the only qualifying catcher in the league without an error, had been charged with just one passed ball and allowed only two wild pitches.
"I'd definitely love to go," Ruiz said. "Yeah, I would like to make the All-Star team. But my first thing is to win and help this team get back to the World Series."
Manuel said part of the obstacle is that, for some reason, his catcher hasn't gotten the attention he deserves. Yadier Molina of the Cardinals has a reputation, for example, for being a great defensive backstop and has improved his hitting in recent years. Atlanta's Brian McCann usually puts up strong offensive numbers. San Francisco's Buster Posey won the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2010 and was credited for helping the Giants make it to the World Series after being called up.
"But if Chooch keeps hitting the way he is and catching the way he is, I think he stands a real good chance of making the All-Star team," the manager said. "If he keeps playing the way he has, I don't see a reason in the world why he won't. He's valuable to us as a hitter and also as a catcher. He's a big part of our team."
Fontenot latest addition to Phillies roster
PHILADELPHIA -- Before Friday night's game against the Padres, the Phillies had to decide which of two infielders to bring up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley: Hector Luna or Mike Fontenot.
They chose Luna, and manager Charlie Manuel explained it was because he'd seen him in Spring Training. Fontenot wasn't signed until after he was released by the Giants at the end of the Cactus League.
Less than 24 hours later, Fontenot was added to the roster after third catcher Erik Kratz was optioned back to the IronPigs. The 31-year-old was in uniform for Saturday night's game against San Diego after hitting .300 with six doubles in 50 at-bats with Lehigh Valley.
Fontenot has played for the Cubs and Giants and, in fact, was part of the celebration at Citizens Bank Park when San Francisco upset the Phillies in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series in 2010.
Asked if he would bring that up to his new teammates, Fontenot grinned. "Probably not," he said. "That was fun playing here. I'm part of the Phillies now, but coming in as a Giant I always remember the atmosphere in both parks. It was unbelievable. It was fun to be a part of, but I'm ready to go forward here."
Manuel isn't sure exactly how Fontenot would be used. "I've seen him play second base. I know he's played some shortstop, some third. We'll use him like that. He can hit some. He swings the bat well. We'll try to work him in, get him comfortable and see where we go from there," the manager said.
The Padres are the first team to beat Roy Halladay twice in the same season since the Rays did it four times and the Red Sox twice in 2009.
Rich Dubee said reliever Chad Qualls has corrected a mechanical problem accounted for the veteran right-hander being hit hard in four straight appearances. He's thrown two scoreless innings since.
"We looked at some of his old stuff earlier in the year [on video]. And he was more upright when he came set. And he just thought he was losing his angling and flattening out. It's something he's done in the past that's a key for him. I thought he threw really well [Friday] night," the pitching coach said.
It's only the middle of May, but the Phillies have already suited up 35 different players this season.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.