Phillies Notes: Brown could be sent down

Posted: August 11, 2010

When the Phillies brought Domonic Brown to the majors on July 28, the top prospect arrived with great expectations, not temporary ones. Charlie Manuel said he would ease Brown into the regular lineup with hopes of helping his development into an everyday player, a role Brown will likely fill in 2011.

But in 2010, the Phillies still have three outfielders they are paying a combined $23.5 million this season. So when Shane Victorino (left abdominal strain) returns to the Phillies, probably Friday, there is a decent chance Brown heads back to the minors.

Charlie Manuel said he has yet to discuss with team officials what the team will do upon Victorino's return. But on Tuesday he laid out a decent case for returning Brown to the minors.

Victorino was 1 for 2 in his first rehab game at triple A on Tuesday and played five innings as scheduled. He will play in two more games with the hope of being activated Friday.

Manuel said he wasn't in favor of a four-man rotating outfield when Victorino comes back.

"The only problem with that," the manager said, "the people we signed, we pay them money and they're our regular players. That's like saying because a guy gets hurt he loses his job. I don't think that happens in baseball very much."

Brown has shown flashes of brilliance in his first nine games as a major leaguer. But the signs of inexperience have stood out: Entering Tuesday, Brown had 11 strikeouts in 31 at-bats and had yet to draw a walk. He had one extra-base hit with six RBIs.

In the field, Brown has shown off his impressive throwing arm but also his raw defensive skills by taking incorrect paths to balls.

"He's still in his development," Manuel said. "He definitely has to play. The more he plays, the quicker you'll be able to turn him loose at the major-league level. Those are things we have to consider."

Should the Phillies send Brown back to triple-A Lehigh Valley, he could spend a little more than two weeks in the minors seeing regular playing time. When the rosters expand Sept. 1, the Phillies could bring him back for the final month of the season.

As long as Brown is on the 40-man roster come Aug. 31, he is eligible for the postseason.

Another factor to consider: If the Phillies were to keep Brown, it could leave the team without a reserve middle infielder or third baseman (until second baseman Chase Utley returns late this month). In that case, the odd man out would likely be Greg Dobbs.

The Phils could also cut loose a pitcher but appear willing to stick with righthander Danys Baez, who has struggled but is due $2.75 million in 2011.

Bastardo added

Antonio Bastardo was recalled Tuesday, and the way Manuel made it sound, the lefthander could be here for longer than just the three-game set against the Dodgers.

"We thought we needed a lefty," Manuel said, "not only for the Dodgers but for everybody else."

Bastardo replaced outfielder John Mayberry Jr., who was optioned to triple-A Lehigh Valley on Sunday. Manuel was quick to use Bastardo in the fourth inning of Tuesday's game. He allowed a run on three hits in two-thirds of an inning.

It marks the first time all season the Phillies are carrying 13 pitchers, a rare occurrence under Manuel. But Mayberry, the 25th man on the roster, was hardly playing, and the Phillies saw the need for the extra pitcher.

Los Angeles had four lefthanded batters in its lineup Tuesday, and with J.C. Romero struggling as the lone lefty in the Phillies' bullpen, Bastardo could be used in key situations.

Since going to triple A after a stint on the disabled list with left elbow inflammation, Bastardo pitched 10 scoreless innings for the IronPigs. He had 13 strikeouts and no walks.

Extra bases

Utley (right thumb surgery) was scheduled to see a doctor Wednesday for another checkup. He could be given clearance to swing a bat, something he has yet to do. . . . Roy Oswalt will make his home debut Wednesday against righthander Chad Billingsley. Oswalt is 4-0 in four career starts at Citizens Bank Park with a 2.60 ERA.

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