CLEARWATER, Fla. - Domonic Brown made an important decision before his final at-bat of spring training.
"I just said forget it . . . I'm going to go back to what got me here," the Phillies rightfielder said. "I got my hands back up and I was feeling comfortable."
The result was a line-drive single up the middle during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday. It was Brown's first hit in 16 Grapefruit League at-bats. It was also his last because earlier in the at-bat he fouled off a pitch and injured the hamate bone in his right hand.
Brown underwent surgery Tuesday in Philadelphia to remove the hook of the hamate and was back in the clubhouse at Bright House Field for the first time Thursday. His mission to be the team's opening-day rightfielder is over, but he remained upbeat about what lies ahead.
"All I can do is go in and focus on my rehab and make sure I'm healthy and strong and take it from there," Brown said. "Whatever else happens happens. They're saying it's going to be three to six weeks."
Brown, 23, sported a cast that stretched from his hand to his elbow. He said that would come off in 10 days.
Regardless of where and when Brown returns, he said he would continue to keep his hands up high at the start of his setup. That's how he had always hit in the minor leagues, but he tinkered with lowering his hands after working with hitting instructor Greg Gross during the offseason and early in spring training.
"That's the key for me," Brown said. "The other thing did not work with the hands down. That's going to take time and I don't really have time like that to spare, especially coming from winter ball. I don't have enough time to prepare myself with the lower-hand angle."
Brown said he received Gross' blessing to return to the high-hand approach.
"He just said, 'Whatever feels comfortable, whatever got you here' " Brown said. "We went from there. As soon as I took the first swing, I knew I was back right and that's why I didn't get out of the game right away because I thought maybe I could shake it off. I was trying to shake it off, but I knew it was something there in the hamate bone."
It will be interesting to see how Brown's injury affects his quest to play in the big leagues, because players like Ben Francisco and John Mayberry Jr. will have an opportunity to make a favorable impression on manager Charlie Manuel and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.
Brown, perhaps on a rehab assignment, will likely spend at least some time at triple-A Lehigh Valley.