CLEARWATER, Fla. - While the Phillies played their final road game of spring training on Tuesday, Domonic Brown walked off the minor-league fields in Clearwater clutching two black bats and a red batting helmet.
"Made it through," he quipped with a smile before heading back into an empty Bright House Field clubhouse.
Hours earlier, the Phillies informed Brown that the tendinitis in his left Achilles would land him on the 15-day disabled list to start the season. This did not come as a surprise, not even to the optimistic rightfielder, who discussed such a possibility Monday with the team's head athletic trainer, Scott Sheridan.
"They don't want to rush anything and I really don't, either," said Brown, who played in a minor-league game Tuesday, his first game action since March 19. "It's tough for me being down here and missing opening day, but it's better to miss a week or so than to miss a month or two, you know what I mean?"
Brown will at the earliest begin his season April 11 - the day of the fifth game of 2015 - which is the first day he will be eligible to come off the disabled list. That is far from a set return date, though. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Brown "very likely" could miss more than the first week of the season.
"We're going to take it at its appropriate pace to make sure that it's not lingering for him during the year," Amaro said.
Brown will continue to play in minor-league games before beginning an official rehab assignment. The oft-maligned former top prospect still feels stiffness when he runs. He said his timing at the plate was better than he expected, though.
"We're moving in the right direction here," he said. "So we'll see how it feels [Wednesday]."
It is unknown when Brown will resume playing the field. He was the designated hitter Tuesday in a Class A game against the Yankees. Amaro watched as Brown whiffed on a 1-2 curveball, reached base on a fielding error, and twice flied out to center field. A pinch-runner replaced Brown on the basepaths.
Brown, 27, is coming off a woeful season in which he was one of baseball's worst everyday players. He worked early in spring training with Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt on swinging down and through the ball. In 11 spring games before the injury, Brown tallied seven hits in 29 at-bats. He struck out seven times but worked five walks.
Brown's injury leaves an opening in right field, where a temporary starter had yet to be named. Grady Sizemore, on a guaranteed $2 million deal for this season, played there Tuesday against the Blue Jays and had three hits to raise his spring average to .214.
Jordan Danks is a candidate, but he still has minor-league options. Non-roster spring invitees Brian Bogusevic, Jeff Francoeur, and Russ Canzler are also in the mix. The Phillies do not view first baseman/leftfielder Darin Ruf as an option in right field.
Amaro declined to name even a front-runner for the opening-day right-field job. Much depends, he said, on how the final 25-man roster shakes out. Ten more cuts await before Monday.