LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The talk, Charlie Manuel said, is simply talk for now. No, he was not thrilled to hear that Domonic Brown would make an early return from winter ball in the Dominican Republic. No, the last few months of the regular season didn't greatly help Brown's development.
But until Manuel sees Brown in spring training, he is not ready to make any pronouncements on the Phillies' top prospect's chances of making the team.
"I definitely think he deserves a good chance and he's going to get it," Manuel said Tuesday at the winter meetings. "I'm not ready to send him to the minor leagues yet."
After the end of the season, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Brown wouldn't be handed the right-field job. He went a step further on Monday, saying in a perfect world, Brown would be in the minors to start the 2011 season for more experience.
Manuel will withhold judgment until the spring.
"I think spring training is going to be really big for him," Manuel said. "I think we're going to get a lot of work in with him. I think [hitting coach Greg Gross] and myself, we're going to talk a lot about his hitting and work with him some. He's going to get to play a lot, and we can work with all of his game."
Manuel said it's possible he could work with Brown before spring training begins.
Amaro said his view of Brown hasn't changed since the off-season began and said spring training may not be enough time to refine the outfielder's game.
"Some of the things he has to work on, I don't know if he'll be able to prove to us he's a ready-made project," Amaro said.
Manuel was enthused by the idea of working with free-agent outfielder Jeff Francoeur, and the way he talked, it probably wasn't the first time he had made these thoughts known.
"I've always liked Francoeur," Manuel said. "I've always thought he had a lot of talent, and he proved that when he first came to the big leagues. For some reason, the last couple years he hasn't produced in a way that you would want him to."
But the Phillies' interest level in Francoeur isn't believed to be very serious. The former outfielder for the Braves, Mets, and Rangers is drawing interest from various teams at the winter meetings and could receive more playing time elsewhere.
Manuel said he has spoken to three players since the end of the season: Roy Halladay after he won his Cy Young Award, Shane Victorino after he won his Gold Glove, and Ryan Howard. "After these meetings are over here," Manuel said, "I'll touch base with all of them."
Dominic Brown will
get a shot at playing right field. D7.