"You just take everything in stride," Phelps said on Saturday at Great American Ball Park prior to a 3-1 win over the Reds. "Anything I can do to help the team, if that means I'm playing every so often, that's what I'm happy to do."
Manager Manny Acta's reasoning is simple: Veteran Orlando Cabrera was wielding a hot bat. Dating back to Phelps' promotion from Triple-A Columbus on June 8, the 36-year-old Cabrera hit .311 (19-for-61) with two home runs, four doubles and six RBIs over 17 games.
For Saturday's game against the Reds, Cabrera got the nod at second base and Phelps served as a pinch-hitter. Over the past eight games on this nine-game road trip, Phelps has started just twice. Phelps is hitting only .214 on the year for the Tribe but has a .308 average over his past seven games.
"It's tough for the kid," Acta acknowledged. "He has always played every day. But this is the big leagues and we're trying to win here. We're trying to put the best team out there on an everyday basis and Orlando has played very well over the last couple of weeks.
"We'll try to find at-bats for [Phelps], but that being said, the main thing is to win. I know it's not easy. He's not the only one. There are a lot of guys that are used to playing every day and sometimes you have to come over here and make the adjustment."
That is precisely what Phelps is trying to do.
"It's a little bit different," Phelps said. "But I think it's something every player needs to have the ability to do. I'll just come to the park and prepare myself like I'm going to play every day and then, when you get in there, you're ready."