A few notes/thoughts before you and I go our separate ways for a weekend of football...

Domonic Brown joined Escogido of the Dominican winter league on Monday. He has yet to appear in a game.

A Phillies official said Brown is still getting back into playing shape after not swinging a bat for three weeks. So keep an eye this week on how (if) Brown is used. The Phillies certainly didn't send him there to sit on the bench.

Of course, there is still time for Brown to get some at-bats. He plans to spend about a month in the Dominican Republic and Escogido has 26 games remaining in its regular-season schedule that ends Dec. 21. That is around the time Brown will return to the states.

Escogido was picked by the Phillies and Brown's agent, Scott Boras, for specific reasons -- so one would think regular playing time is a possibility. The team's manager is Ken Oberkfell, who managed at the Mets' triple-A Buffalo affiliate in 2010, and the general manager is former major leaguer Moises Alou.

The Phillies wanted Brown to go play winter ball to make up for some of the lost development time he had sitting on the bench for most of August and September. He needs some work on his defensive skills, too.

Here's one name to remember come Rule 5 time -- and it's a familiar one to Phillies fans: Michael Dubee.

Yes, Michael is the son of Phillies pitching coach Rich. He was an 18th-round pick in 2006 by the Phillies and then traded to the White Sox at the 2007 trade deadline for Tad Iguchi.

After an impressive season at double-A Altoona in 2010, the Pirates left Michael unprotected.

In 76 1/3 innings, he had a 2.24 ERA. He allowed 62 hits, struck out 68 and walked only 19. He's also pitching well in the Dominican winter league with 13 strikeouts in 14 innings.

The righthander turns 25 in January. The Phillies have a need for young and cheap bullpen arms. The younger Dubee could be worth another look in spring training. Then again, it could be complicated with his father making some of the decisions.

But he was also left off the 40-man roster of the pitching-starved Pirates and that has to make you wonder too.

Another player left off Pittsburgh's 40-man roster was former ace Zach Duke. As a 22-year-old rookie in 2005, Duke showed tons of promise.

Since then, he hasn't done much. In 2010, he had a 5.72 ERA with a scary 1.65 WHIP.

But he's still young (turns 28 in April), lefthanded, and the kind of established pitcher the Phillies could look at for competition at the back end of the starting rotation in spring training.

Right now, Kyle Kendrick and Vance Worley will compete for the fifth starter's job. (That is assuming Kendrick, who could be non-tendered, returns.) You can bet the Phillies will bring in an older pitcher on a non-guaranteed deal to add competition.

The question is, would Duke take that kind of offer? He was due a raise in arbitration after making $4.3 million in 2010.

OK, scratch that. Both Gillies and Aumont are not eligible for the Rule 5 draft. My bad. Carry on.