Phillies Notebook: Phils' Brown back with time to hit milestone

ASSOCIATED PRESS Roger Bernadina is safe at second on a late throw to Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond on a seventh-inning double.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Roger Bernadina is safe at second on a late throw to Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond on a seventh-inning double.
Posted: September 17, 2013

WASHINGTON - Domonic Brown walked into the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park yesterday and saw something he hadn't seen in more than 2 weeks: his name in the starting lineup.

Before yesterday, Brown hadn't made a start since Aug. 30, and he had made just two in 21 games since Aug. 23 while battling right Achilles' soreness. He resumed regular duty in the series finale in Washington but couldn't save the Phillies from a one-sided defeat.

"It felt good [to be back]," Brown said. "Excuse my French, but we got our ass whooped."

Brown, who pinch-hit on Friday and entered as a defensive replacement on Saturday, doubled in his first at-bat since rejoining the lineup. Brown's double was one of three extra-base hits the Phils had in an 11-2 drubbing by the Nats. He finished 1-for-4.

Brown has 2 weeks - the Phillies have 13 games remaining - to put the finishing touches on an All-Star season. He's hitting .272 with 27 home runs and 81 RBI.

Brown is six home runs away from the NL lead (Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvarez has 33) but he's well within reach of the 30-home run plateau. He'd be the first Phillies player to hit at least 30 home runs since Ryan Howard hit 33 in 2011.

"Sometimes when you do that, it becomes something of a benchmark, a sign of what you can and expect to do in the future," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "That would be big for him."

But after a one-sided defeat, Brown was more concerned with his team finishing on a good note than with padding his own stats.

"I'm not worried about what I'm doing," he said. "I'm just happy to be back in the lineup. I got that first hit and then shut it down for the rest of the day. But that's part of it. I'll come back out and fight tomorrow. It's all about the team, really. We got a lot of young guys here - 15 or 16 rookies. I'm excited to see what we're going to bring in the future. We've got a lot of good, young guys in here - [Cody] Asche, [Darin] Ruf, a lot of guys. I think in time we'll be fine."

After pinch-hitting at Wrigley Field on Sept. 1, Brown was shut down from baseball activities for a week in an effort to rest his injury. Although Brown was cleared to take regular batting practice with the team on Thursday, Sandberg said it would be "premature" to expect Brown back by this weekend.

But Brown told the manager he felt fine heading into the weekend and got the green light shortly thereafter.

Paying the Bryce

The Phillies might want to stop testing the gifted arm on Nationals All-Star leftfielder Bryce Harper.

Darin Ruf drilled a ball to left-center in the sixth inning yesterday. The ball caromed near the 377-foot sign in front of the bullpen. Harper sprinted to retreat the hit and fired a strike to second base to cut down Ruf attempting to stretch a single. The assist was Harper's 13th of the season and third of the three-game series.

Harper threw out two runners at second on Friday. "Harper was impressive," Sandberg said. "All of them looked like routine doubles for the baserunners. I mean, we watched it, yet the guy goes in the corner, off the wall, where it's always a routine double . . . It's somewhat hard to make that adjustment, because they look like sure doubles off the bat. His throws are right on the bag."

Phillers

The Phillies begin their final homestand of the season tonight when the Miami Marlins arrive at Citizens Bank Park. Cliff Lee (13-6, 2.97 ERA) will oppose righthander Sam Dyson (0-0 4.50) . . . Carlos Ruiz had the day off after going 4-for-9 with two doubles and four RBI in the first two games of the series. Ruiz, a free agent after the season, is hitting .313 with five home runs and an .860 OPS in 43 games since the All-Star break. He is hitting .292 overall . . . Third-base prospect Maikel Franco and righthander Severino Gonzalez will be honored before tonight's game as the recipients of the Paul Owens Awards for the Phillies' minor league player and pitcher of the year.


On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese

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