Domonic Brown was mostly the Domonic Brown that you have heard over the last three years. Soft spoken, politically correct, deferential. But the former top prospect does sound like he is anxious to be judged over the course of a full major league season, which is an opportunity he has yet to receive from the Phillies.
"You know what, I've been waiting for that for a long time," Brown told reporters on Thursday morning. "When I get that opportunity, when they give me that sink or swim opportunity like they did last year at the end of the year, see what I'm capable of for four, five hundred at bats, then if I fail. . ."
He didn't really complete the thought. He didn't need to. While Brown has seen time in the majors in each of the last three seasons, he has yet to make an Opening Day roster, and he has yet to play in more than 56 games in a year. You can make all the judgments you want on his 492 major league plate appearances (he has a slash line of .236/.315/.388 with 12 home runs), but you can also argue that if the Phillies really want to put him in the best position to succeed, they need to put him in the lineup at the start of the season and tell him not to worry about looking over his shoulder.
That does not look like it is going to happen this year, at least not in his natural position of right field, where the Phillies plan on using Delmon Young, a poor defender who is not a natural right fielder and whose numbers over the last couple of years are not much more impressive than Brown's.
Not to editorialize or anything.
Brown said he did not expect the Phillies to talk to him after they signed Young, nor should they have felt the need to talk to him. He said he does not know what position he will be working out at, or what the team's plan is for him.
"I guess we'll see here shortly," he said. "Whatever I need to do to help the team, I'm willing to do."
The Phillies have often mentioned Brown's health when talking about the past three seasons. A knee injury hampered him last year. In 2011, he broke the hamate bone in his thumb, an injury that is common in baseball and cannot really be prevented.
Brown said he is healthy.
"I'm ready to go," he said.
Now, he just needs an opportunity.
"If I get four, five hundred at bats, I think I can show what I'm really capable of doing," Brown said.
Brown has one option left. If the Phillies use it this year, then starting next year they would have to expose him to waivers before sending him to the minors, which would likely mean the end of his PHillies career.
Does Brown view this as a make-or-break year?
"I don't know. We'll leave that up to Ruben," he said. "He makes the decisions. I've still got one more option. We'll see what happens."