Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 6/23/12

Shane Victorino is not having the kind of season a player would like to put up in a contract year, but he came into Friday night leading all major league players in one statistical category. Victorino had played in 71 games.

Victorino didn't play Friday night -- no one did, as the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays had their game postponed due to inclement weather -- and it's unknown if he'll be in the lineup Saturday. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel decided to give his center fielder a mental breather before Friday's game.

Victorino has started 70 of the Phillies' 71 games this season. However, he comes into the three-game series against Tampa Bay hitting .215 in his last 25 games.

"I think he needs to relax and slow down," Manuel said.

Manuel believes pending free agency is affecting Victorino's on-the-field performance. The 31-year-old center fielder, who is in the final season of a three-year, $22 million deal, is hitting .252 with a .319 on-base percentage and a .399 slugging percentage.

All would stand as career lows.

"I talked to him about it the other day a little bit," Manuel said. "I wanted to sit him down and want him to relax. I just want him to sit there and see if he can clear his head a little bit. We'll give him a break and see what happens. Sometimes an off day is good for you."

Victorino doesn't believe his contract status has had any bearing on his struggles at the plate this season.

"I'm long over that," Victorino told the Delaware County (Pa.) Daily Times on Friday. "Maybe early on the thought process was there. In this game, there is enough pressure as it is. When you start adding things to your plate, your world will start spinning. I'm just going out there trying to be the best player I can be and help the team win -- worry about that, focus on that.

"That's how I look at it. One way or another, I'm going to have a job somewhere. I would long for it to be here, but we understand it's a business and things happen. So, I look at it that way. I'm worried about 2012, focused on winning here, bringing an championship here and whatever happens after the World Series ends and free agency begins, we'll focus about that then."

The Phillies will make up Friday's postponed game as part of a split-admission, day-night doubleheader Sunday. Sunday's original game has been moved up a half hour, from 1:35 to 1:05 p.m., while Friday's game will be played Sunday night at 6:35.

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