Phillies Notebook: Phillies' Brown knows that it's time for him to produce again
Domonic Brown trying to get back to his All-Star form at the plate.
LOS ANGELES - Severino Gonzalez returns to the rotation tonight and David Buchanan will be back on Saturday. Both are trying to establish themselves as big-league pitchers.
Cesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis and Maikel Franco continue to make the most of their own, first, full-fledged major league opportunities. That's really the point of a last-place team in the middle of an organizational rebuild, giving young players the opportunity to play and seeing whether any of them have staying power.
Domonic Brown falls into a different category. He first got his opportunity as a big-league regular in July 2012.
But since the beginning of last season, following his 2013 All-Star season, Brown has hit .229 with a .282 OBP and 10 home runs in 165 games. After beginning the 2015 season on the disabled list with an Achilles' injury, then remaining in Triple A in an attempt to get his bat going, Brown returned to the big leagues on June 14.
But through his first 21 major league games, entering yesterday, Brown has hit .188 with no home runs in 76 plate appearances.
"He's going to be getting some chances," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "But his leash isn't as long as it used to be. That's been communicated to him."
Brown has heard the message loud and clear.
"I agree with him one thousand percent," Brown said before batting practice at Dodger Stadium. "If I don't make the most of my opportunity, then he has to do his job and get me out of here, I guess. But I don't want that. I want to be in Philly. But that's part of the game, as well, and I understand that. But I'm not going to go out there and put extra pressure on myself because of that."
Brown has managed to maintain a positive outlook despite his underwhelming numbers. Even before arriving back in the big leagues, Brown was batting .257 with a .307 OBP and two home runs in 52 games (228 plate appearances) at Triple A Lehigh Valley.
"I'm feeling good in the box; I'm taking some good swings," Brown said, "but it's time to put some numbers up."
And what's the key to making that happen?
"Just playing," said Brown, who turns 28 in September. "If I continue to play, I think it's just a matter of time before stuff starts clicking. I didn't hit 30 home runs and be an All-Star for nothing. I just have to go out there and play baseball. This is different than Triple A . . . You have to get in there and get at-bats. Charlie [Manuel] always talked about it, he'd just run me out there every day. That's really the biggest thing. Now I have to take it on myself. Charlie's not here, you know; a lot of guys aren't here that were familiar with myself. I gotta grow up. But it's a good feeling, it's a good challenge. I'm definitely ready for it."
Six years ago this month, Brown was the untouchable prospect the Phillies did not want to part with to get Roy Halladay at the trade deadline; they ended up with Cliff Lee.
Five years ago today, Baseball America listed Brown as the top prospect in baseball in its midseason rankings of the top 50 minor league players in the game. He was one slot ahead of Mike Trout.
Two years ago this month, Brown joined Lee at the All-Star Game at Citi Field in New York, coming off a a first half of the 2013 season that saw him hit 21 home runs in the final 72 games before the break. He finished the season with 27 home runs; only three National League players had more.
So where has that power gone? Dating back to last season, Brown was homerless in his last 101 at-bats entering play last night.
"I wasn't here the year he hit all those home runs, so I didn't really see him," manager Pete Mackanin said. "But I've seen him over the years and he just doesn't look comfortable at the plate. I spoke to him two days ago, and he just feels like he doesn't feel it. That's something that you've got to get. It's like riding a bike. You've got to feel that balance, and he doesn't feel it right now. The only way you can do that is to keep playing and begin to feel it. If you never feel it then - let's put it this way, he's got to get at-bats to get going to see if he's going to get going and hopefully regain that approach he had in '13."
Brown has been getting the opportunity. He made his 18th start in the last 24 games last night.
But he has three extra-base hits in those games and was hitting below the Mendoza line, too.
"I'm hungry, I'm hungry right now, man," Brown said. "I'm out here busting my butt every single day. I'm really hungry - I don't think I've ever been this hungry, ever. But like I told you guys, I'm not going to go out there and put extra pressure on myself. I'm feeling great, I'm feeling good - in the outfield, on the bases, at the plate. Like I said, it's just time to get some results, and I think that's going to happen."