THE THICK silence of embarrassing defeat was still present in the bowels of Citizens Bank Park when Ruben Amaro Jr. and Charlie Manuel sat together in the manager's office and hashed out the immediate future of their underperforming baseball team.

Thursday night had produced not only a 7-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies, but a realization that centerfielder Shane Victorino needed a stint on the disabled list to recover from a hamstring strain. Together, the two men huddled, talking out the various personnel moves that could help to fill the void in their outfield.

When the subject turned to Domonic Brown, Amaro was hesitant. A short time before, he had told the media the Phillies' top prospect was not likely to get the call, and at the time, the general manager believed what he said. Brown had played in only 11 games at Triple A Lehigh Valley, and, although he had played well, Amaro's perfect world had the outfielder compiling a healthy base of at-bats in the minors before a promotion to the majors. But as he talked with Manuel, he began to realize he might have to sacrifice perfection for practicality. They talked about how Brown was likely to be used, how many at-bats he would see on a regular basis, what type of success they thought he could have.

By the end of it - "It didn't take long," Manuel said - Amaro reached a conclusion that, for better or for worse, will have enormous ramifications on the rest of the Phillies season.

It was time to call the kid up.

"I changed my mind," Amaro said yesterday afternoon as he spoke with reporters in the Phillies dugout before the game against the Rangers, having put Victorino officially on the DL. "It's pretty simple, really."

Yesterday morning, a pajama-clad Hall of Famer walked to a hotel room in Lackawanna County and knocked on the door. Pack your bags, IronPigs manager Ryne Sandberg told Brown. Instead of playing that night's game against the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees, Brown caught a ride back to Allentown, where he hopped in his truck and headed down the Northeast Extension. As the sounds of R. Kelly pulsed through the vehicle, he was well aware that this opportunity was not like the last.

When the Phillies called him up last July 28, Brown was more or less a short-term replacement. Victorino was on the DL with an oblique strain that was not expected to sideline him for much longer than 15 days. Brown's natural position at rightfield was occupied by Jayson Werth, who was in the midst of a standout season that eventually would land him a monster contract with the Washington Nationals. In leftfield, Raul Ibanez was just starting to break out of a 3-month funk.

"It's a totally different situation," Brown said. "Werth was here, and Ibanez was playing good, as well. I know I'm going to get a lot more playing time this year, and that's a big bonus for myself."

Brown went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI in his big-league debut and started eight of the next 12 games. But after Victorino returned, Brown slid into a bench role, starting only four more games, while going 4-for-24 with a double, home run, four walks and 11 strikeouts in 28 plate appearances.

When Brown got the call yesterday, rightfielder Ben Francisco was hitting only .216 with a .325 on-base percentage and .668 on-base plus slugging percentage. Ibanez was hitting .233 with a .287 OBP and .636 OPS. Brown, 23, did not start against Rangers lefty C.J. Wilson, but is expected to be there tonight against righthander Colby Lewis. Manuel said his plan is to ease Brown into action, starting him against righthanders to help him find a groove.

Brown will play against lefties, Manuel said, just not right away.

"First of all, he hasn't had much spring training, and he's just starting to get back into the swing of things, back playing again," Manuel said, referring to Brown's being sidelined with a hand injury this spring. "I think at the major league level, starting out, it will be a good way to kind of break him in."

Brown's long-term future has always seemed more important to the Phillies than the short-term upside of a promotion. On several occasions over the past 2 weeks, Amaro told reporters he did not think Brown was ready for an everyday job. Yesterday, he acknowledged he still harbors some of those doubts. But, he continued, such thoughts are always present when a highly regarded prospect breaks into the big leagues. The more he talked with Manuel on Thursday night, the more he realized that the benefits outweighed the risks. The Phillies had scored fewer than three runs in their last five games. In losing five of six to the Braves, Cardinals and Rockies - their toughest stretch of the schedule thus far - they had managed only 38 hits and 10 runs. The offense needed help, and the only potential spark, with Victorino hurt, was Brown.

"Is it the right thing to do? I'm not sure," Amaro said. "But it's the right thing to do for this club right now." *

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