Phillies Notebook: Domonic Brown making an early push

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Domonic Brown is enjoying a hot start in Clearwater.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Domonic Brown is enjoying a hot start in Clearwater.
Posted: February 25, 2013

LAKELAND, Fla. - No player competing for a job in spring training is going to win it in the first weekend of games. But they also aren't going to lose it, either.

After two Grapefruit League games - and the intrasquad game, too - Domonic Brown has gotten the attention of his manager.

Brown is 4-for-6 with a double and a home run in three games this spring. He hit a game-tying, solo home run off Detroit's Al Alburquerque in the Phillies' 5-5 tie with the Tigers on Sunday.

After the game, manager Charlie Manuel was asked about the 10 outfielders he has in camp and how he plans to get them all on the field in the next month.

"We're going to try to get them all some playing time so we can see them enough, but if somebody really jumps out and gets going like Brown . . . we can settle on a guy," Manuel said.

Brown, 25, is, of course, the former top prospect who has yet to click in the major leagues. He entered camp competing for a job in an outfield where the Phillies have a vacancy in left and will likely have an opening in right, at least at the outset of the season, with Delmon Young likely ticketed for the disabled list.

"The last 3 days he's been swinging good, he's played the outfield good," Manuel said of Brown. "He has the potential to be a good hitter, we're talking average and power, especially in some of those National League ballparks. And that would really help us."

Brown has hit .236 with a .315 OBP and 12 home runs in 147 games in the last three seasons in the big leagues. But he has never played more than 56 major league games in any of those seasons and came into camp hoping to have the opportunity to play for an extended time with the Phillies.

So far, he's helping make his case.

Howard looks mobile

After enduring a rough spring debut, striking out twice in three at-bats on Saturday, Ryan Howard had a productive day at Joker Merchant Stadium.

Howard, who missed all of spring training last year while recovering from left Achilles' surgery, went 2-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI. The first double came off former American League MVP Justin Verlander, hitting off the wall in right-center, while the second was against lefthander Kyle Lobstein.

Perhaps equally as impressive was Howard's ability to leg out both doubles and show some nimbleness on the bases.

After his second double, Howard tagged up and went to third on a Darin Ruf flyout to center. An inning earlier, Howard got caught in a rundown between second and third on a ground ball to short, but at least looked agile and healthy.

"I was break-dancing out there," Howard joked. "I just try to be aggressive out there. I made a baserunning mistake and I just tried to stay in the rundown long enough to get Junior [John Mayberry Jr.] over to second base. But it felt good to be able to stop, go, cut and go back the other way."

Verlander's price

Cole Hamels opted to skip the temptations of free agency and signed a 6-year, $144 million contract extension last summer. Seattle's Felix Hernandez did the same this month: He will be paid $175 million over the next 7 years.

The Detroit Tigers will attempt to keep their own ace in town and it's expected to be pricey. A Yahoo! Sports report over the weekend had Justin Verlander as the player most likely to break the $200 million barrier for pitchers.

As the story spread, it was translated into Verlander demanding $200 million. Not so.

"I answered those questions honestly," Verlander said. "I don't think it came across bad, but it didn't come across the way I'd envision. I don't want to be seen as the greedy guy who wants to get paid the best or whatever. But if a question is posed to me I'm going to be honest. Would you like to be the first $200 million writer?"

Verlander, 30, can become a free agent after next season; he has 2 years and $40 million remaining on a 5-year, $80 million deal he signed in 2010.

Schwimer traded

Righthanded reliever Michael Schwimer was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for minor league first baseman Art Charles on Saturday.

Schwimer had a 4.46 ERA in 35 games with the Phillies in 2012. But he made waves in the organization twice last summer, first for revealing roster moves through his Twitter account before they were announced and then refusing to go to the minor leagues because he felt he should have been placed on the DL.

Schwimer was optioned to Triple A Lehigh Valley on Aug. 23 and instead of reporting he first sought a second opinion. Schwimer eventually reported and no grievance was filed . . . at least not yet.

Upon arrival to the Blue Jays clubhouse in Dunedin, Schwimer made the following comments to the National Post.

"This is different," Schwimer said. "My initial impression is that it's a lot more relaxed than the Phillies' locker room was. Everybody's having fun, kind of doing their own thing, happy. The Phillies' [clubhouse] was a lot more kind of regimented and plan-oriented."

Phillers

Kevin Frandsen started at third base and went 2-for-3 with a home run. Frandsen, who signed an $850,000 deal with the Phils over the winter, is a front-runner for a bench job . . . Freddy Galvis hustled into second base for a two-out double off Justin Verlander to drive in the first run of the game. Galvis, who started at second base, finished 1-for-3 . . . Pitching highlights: Antonio Bastardo pitched a scoreless third inning in relief of Roy Halladay and nonroster invitee Rodrigo Lopez threw three scoreless innings, allowing one hit while striking out three and walking zero. Pitching lowlight: J.C. Ramirez allowed three runs on three hits and a walk, while striking out one, in the fourth inning.


On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

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