CINCINNATI -- When the Phillies traded away their two All-Star outfielders at the Trade Deadline, questions arose regarding who could fill in full time in the outfield.

John Mayberry Jr. is slowly beginning to prove he could be the answer.

Mayberry struggled early on in the season, enduring a 28-game stretch in which he recorded just 10 hits and two RBIs for a .182 average.

Over his first 55 games through the July 31 Trade Deadline, Mayberry held a .230 average with 55 hits, 13 doubles, eight homers, 25 RBIs and a .259 on-base percentage.

However, in 29 games since the Phillies dealt Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence, Mayberry has hit .301 with 34 hits, six doubles, six homers, 15 RBIs and a .360 on-base percentage.

"He's getting a chance to play and he's been hitting some homers, and also, things are falling his way. He's been playing pretty stable," said manager Charlie Manuel. "There's a lot of guys that run hot and cold. If they start the season cold, then their batting average is going to be down low."

Mayberry had upped his season average to .253 entering Wednesday's game, but despite his recent successes, Manuel says Mayberry still faces one more hurdle before consistently cracking the starting lineup -- hitting against righties.

On the season, Mayberry is batting .297 with eight homers and 19 RBIs against left-handed pitchers. He's had 76 more at-bats against righties but is batting just .224 with six homers and 21 RBIs.

Manuel said once Mayberry finds consistency, especially against right-handers, he could hold a daily spot in the outfield.

"I've always told him, 'You've got to hit right-handed pitchers better,'" Manuel said. "He's starting to get some hits off them. That's how Jayson Werth won a job. That's how he got $127 million. Two different players, but at the same time, when John shows he can consistently hit right-handed pitching and hold his own, that's what's going to make him a regular player. Right now, he's doing real good, but that's how you win a job."

Utley the future third baseman for Phillies?

CINCINNATI -- If Chase Utley's move to third is imminent, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel isn't divulging it.

Utley fielded some ground balls at third base again before Tuesday's game with the Reds, but Manuel said there wasn't much to read into that.

"He's taking ground balls there, that's what he's doing," Manuel said. "[Heck], when I was a player, I played right field most of the time, and I'd take ground balls at shortstop, third, first. I'd take a lot of ground balls sometimes."

With the Phillies most likely in need of an everyday third baseman next season, Utley said he would be open to a move to the hot corner.

Utley, who began the experiment last week, hasn't played third base since his days at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2002.

Phils not counting themselves out for Wild Card

CINCINNATI -- In a 162-game season, it's hard not to look ahead at times. It becomes even more difficult as teams approach the home stretch with the playoffs looming.

The Phillies are fighting for survival in the Wild Card race, sitting nine games back entering Wednesday's finale with the Reds.

Manager Charlie Manuel assured everyone that his team isn't counting itself out, noting, "There's still a lot of baseball to be played."

The players echoed their coaches' sentiment and said the key is to focus on the present before worrying about what the future might hold.

"You just want to win every game you can, every possible game," Kevin Frandsen said. "You don't look ahead, you look at today. You've got to win today before you can get to tomorrow."

The Phillies have had their fair share of letdowns and bad breaks this season, but Frandsen said the club's mentality is to keep winning, whether it's playoff bound or not.

"We're still a good team," Frandsen said. "It doesn't matter what the record shows. I feel like the last month and a half, we've been playing pretty darn good baseball."

Since Aug. 1, the Phillies are 19-14 (.576). They are tied for the second-best record in the National League since Aug. 23. And if you ask anyone in the clubhouse, anything is possible.

Worth noting

• After Jimmy Rollins chalked up his 2,000th career hit Tuesday, the All-star shortstop is fast approaching another milestone. Rollins needs just two stolen bases to reach No. 400.

• The Phillies entered Wednesday leading the league in both stolen-base percentage (82.4) and in number of runners caught stealing (38). Their 98 steals are fourth most among NL clubs.