Phillies Notes: Brown adjusting to life on bench

Rookie Domonic Brown (left, with Jayson Werth) is on the bench now that the Phillies' three starting outfielders are healthy.
Rookie Domonic Brown (left, with Jayson Werth) is on the bench now that the Phillies' three starting outfielders are healthy.
Posted: August 18, 2010

Every game, about the fourth or fifth inning, Domonic Brown leaves the Phillies dugout, grabs a bat, and heads up the tunnel.

"I'm living in the cage," the rookie said.

The Phils' top prospect finds himself in an unfamiliar role: bench player. With the team's top three outfielders now healthy, Brown was squeezed to the bench. And even with Chase Utley returning to the lineup Tuesday, Brown stayed on the roster.

Instead, infielder Greg Dobbs was designated for assignment - the second demotion this season for the once-great but now dismal pinch-hitter.

"We just felt, at least at this stage, this keeps us with a stronger club overall," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.

That means, for now, the Phillies are comfortable with Brown's not playing regularly.

"Am I fine with it? I want to see him get more at-bats, of course," manager Charlie Manuel said. "But we're also in the process of trying to win games in a pennant race. I like everything about the kid. If we can get him some at-bats, we'll definitely get them."

Entering Tuesday, Brown had two at-bats in the Phillies' previous four games. He headed for a pinch-hit appearance Sunday night only to be pinch-hit for by Ben Francisco when the Mets brought in a lefthander.

"It's very different," Brown, 22, said. "I'm not saying I'm getting used to it, but I'm starting to feel comfortable."

On the other hand, Dobbs did nothing to justify a roster spot. He was 2 for his last 25 and hitting .191 this season. As a pinch-hitter, he was even worse, batting .119.

The Phillies have 10 days to make a move with the 32-year-old Dobbs. If he clears waivers and accepts a minor-league assignment, he could return once rosters expand Sept. 1.

"I think there's a good chance of that," Manuel said.

With Ross Gload still not 100 percent recovered from a strained right groin and Ryan Howard on the disabled list with a sprained left ankle, Brown is insurance for the Phillies. Once Howard returns, Brown could go to the minors for at least a few games of regular playing time.

Manuel said Brown will need some of that to be a productive player off the bench in September. If he sits for two weeks, he may not be able to help much, the manager said.

"He's played enough where he can pinch-hit right now," Manuel said. "If he sits for a couple of weeks, it will be hard for him to pinch-hit. That might be one of the reasons he needs to go back to get some games in. There's still time for that."

The triple-A season ends Sept. 6. Brown, tinkering with a new iPad before Tuesday's game, said he is fine with whatever role the Phillies offer.

"I'll take it," he said. "I'm resting up, too. I feel good. I'm just trying to stay fresh and stay with my same daily routine, and once I get into a game it'll be like I never miss a beat."

Howard still out

Manuel said the chances of Howard's returning during the three-game series against the Giants were "slim."

"I think he's improving," Amaro said. "I'm not sure how close he is yet. It's day-to-day. He does a little more each day, and sometimes you don't want to get it swollen again."

Amaro expects Howard to require a rehabilitation assignment.

Burrell returns, homers

Pat Burrell expected a rousing ovation from the Phillies' fans.

"I've heard the full spectrum here," he said before the game. "I'm looking forward to it."

Moments after the sellout crowd at Citizens Bank Park gave Burrell a standing ovation, he homered deep to left field off Roy Oswalt. Some fans even cheered as he crossed home plate.

"I played here for nine seasons and gave it all I had," Burrell said.

Extra bases

The Phillies are scheduled to face Washington phenom Stephen Strasburg on Saturday. He will be opposed by Kyle Kendrick.

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