No whining allowed from young players on last-place Phillies

RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Jimmy Rollins is greeted by Domonic Brown after scoring in the third inning.
RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Jimmy Rollins is greeted by Domonic Brown after scoring in the third inning.
Posted: August 26, 2014

Shut up and play. Be quiet and pitch.

That's the free advice being offered here to all Phillies players and pitchers - especially the younger ones - who want to gripe about how they are being used by manager Ryne Sandberg.

This comes up now because of passive-aggressive complaints lodged by Domonic Brown and David Buchanan after Saturday's 12-inning loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park.

After allowing a sixth-inning run to score on an inexplicable throwing error, Brown decided to use lack of playing time as an excuse for his below-average outfield play. That he did so in a matter-of-fact tone rather than a defiant one made no difference at all.

"I am not out there every day, so it's kind of tough coming off the bench," Brown said.

Buchanan, a rookie righthander, said he was caught "off guard" when Sandberg informed him that he would not be going back to the mound to pitch the sixth inning. Even though he had only surrendered two runs, he had allowed eight hits and 10 baserunners in five innings, so it wasn't as if he was impersonating Roy Halladay in his prime.

"I didn't expect that and wasn't too happy about that," Buchanan said about being removed.

There is a simple solution to the perceived problems of Brown and Buchanan: Play and pitch better.

Brown has started nine of the last 14 games in left field, including Sunday's 7-1 win over the Cardinals, but his gaffe in Saturday night's loss had nothing to do with a lack of playing time and everything to do with a lack of playing the game in a fundamentally sound manner.

You could argue that Brown should have made the play on an Oscar Taveras line drive to left field with A.J. Pierzynski at second base and nobody out in the sixth inning, and a lot of people would. Regardless, when he did not make the play, he needed to throw the baseball to second base. Instead, he made a throw to third that was ticketed for trouble the second it left his hand.

The ball sailed past Cody Asche and went all the way to the backstop behind home plate. Pierzynski scored, Taveras ended up at third and Brown was replaced in left field before the start of the seventh inning.

After the Phillies won a second straight series against a contending team Sunday, Sandberg said he had a conversation with Brown about what he said following Saturday night's game.

"That was [said] more out of frustration than anything," Sandberg said.

He said he also had a conversation with Buchanan about what he said.

"It has been addressed," Sandberg said.

As a rookie with 14 career big-league starts and a pedestrian 4.21 ERA, Buchanan was way out of line and his veteran teammates should advise him of that.

Brown insisted he was not trying to show up or even question his manager.

"I was just saying that I want to play," Brown said. "I know Ryno as a person and as a manager and I was just upset with myself. He told me he didn't take me out because of my mistake. He said he just wanted to make a double switch. I'm just frustrated because of my performance, not just defensively, but at the plate as well. I just want him to know I want to be in there."

That's fine. There's nothing wrong with wanting to play, but Brown had plenty of opportunity to cement his place in left field this season and failed to do so. He started 73 of the team's first 83 games and batted .225 with 17 extra-base hits and a. 599 OPS. He has started just 24 of the last 47 games and his future with the team, like so many others on this roster, is in doubt.

It has been said before, but it is worth repeating: One of the biggest problems the Phillies have encountered in 2014 is a lack of production from the under-30 age group. Here's the list of the current under-30 Phillies: Asche, Buchanan, Brown, Ken Giles, Mario Hollands, Justin De Fratus, Ben Revere, Jake Diekman, Darin Ruf, Antonio Bastardo, Kyle Kendrick, Freddy Galvis and Cesar Jimenez.

A good number of those players will probably be on the roster again at the start of next season, but Giles is the only one who appears to be a rising star on a team filled with fading ones.

If you wanted to pick one of those guys above who has a legitimate gripe about how he is being used, it would definitely be Ruf. He has made 11 starts and appeared in 19 of 40 games since being recalled from triple-A Lehigh Valley in late July. The fact that he has not complained about his situation is an example that all the other 20-somethings should follow.


bbrookover@phillynews.com

@brookob

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