A little after 8 o'clock this morning, assistant general manager Scott Proefrock walked with Delmon Young around a corner and disappeared into manager Charlie Manuel's office. The news they delivered was positive, according to general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. Young is progressing faster than expected from the microfracture surgery he underwent on his ankle this offseason and the Phillies are hoping for a mid-to-late April return.
Amaro said that the plan is still for Young to play right field. In fact, Amaro said he will only play right field, saying that right field is his stronger position defensively.
"He won't be playing left field at all," Amaro said. "He's not a good left fielder, and he doesn't want to play there."
Presumably, that means the Domonic Brown would shift to left field from his natural position of right if the Phillies decide he deserves an everyday spot in their lineup. Amaro said he thinks Brown is equally capable defensively in left field and right field. Same goes for John Mayberry Jr. and Laynce Nix, he said. So perhaps you could see the left-handed NIx rotating with the right-handed Young in right field and the right-handed Mayberry rotating with the left-handed Brown in left field. Both Nix and Mayberry can also play first base, while Mayberry is solid enough to start in center field on occasion in place of the left-handed Ben Revere.
Brown has been playing both left and right field this spring.
Here's more from Amaro. . .
On how quickly Young will be able to progress to game shape: "We'll see. I'm just hopeful that at some point in the early part of April or the middle part of April that he is playing in (minor league) games enough so we can really start to evaluate and to work on that part of his game. We've talked about it before. We have to make sure that the guy is able to play well enough defensively for us to have him in our outfield. So that's one of those things that we're going to make sure. When he's ready to play in Philadelphia, when he's ready to contribute to our club, he'll do it."
On whether he still looks at Young as a right fielder: "He's not going to be playing left field at all."
On whether he views the outfield situation as unsettled: "Somewhat. Listen, if we broke camp today I couldn't really tell you what our outfield would look like. I know that I have a pretty good idea of what I think it might look like, but we've still got close to a month, or a little over three weeks, to make decisions on what has happened. Ruf has struggled in the outfield and he's struggled offensively, but sometimes that happens. I mean, it's a kid who is basically coming from Double-A, did get a chance to be in the big leagues with us a little bit last year, but he wants to do his best to try to get acclimated in left field, he's trying to impress with his bat, he's probably trying to do a little bit too much. Whether he makes our club or not remains to be seen. He's going to have to play better than he's playing now to be on our major league roster, but the fact of the matter is, there's a lot of things going on with him. We're throwing a lot of stuff at him. I think with some time, hopefully he'll start to relax and start play the way we know he can play. He's still learning. And he's still young as far as having an opportunity to be in major camp.
On why he views right field as the best position for Young and why Young won't play left field: "Because he's not a good left fielder. And he doesn't want to play there. He's a much better right fielder. As he came through the system in Tampa Bay he played center and right. He was a plus defender in right and for whatever circumstances, he got away from that and started playing left in other organizations and he's much more suited for right field."
On whether Young has come along slower than what Amaro thought when the Phillies signed him this offseason: "Faster."
On whether he views Domonic Brown's better defensive position as right field or left field: "I think it would be a push."
On whether he would approve of Ryan Howard playing in the World Baseball Classic: "Of course, if we felt he was ready to play."
On whether he feels he would be ready to play on Friday: "I think he's still getting his legs underneath him. I'm not sure he's ready to play at that level of competition. I'm not sure about that. Hopefully it's not a discussion, but if they ask, we'll discuss it and go from there."
On what his evaluation of Domonic Brown has been thus far: "Good spring. It looks like he is more relaxed. I think he is in a hitter's position now. I think he has been a lot more consistent now, much closer to where he was when he was progressing through the minor leagues. I think that he is going about his business very professionally. I like what I've seen so far."
On whether he views both John Mayberry Jr. and Laynce Nix as being equally capable in left or right field: "Yeah. I think they are both fine. What's interesting about both of those guys is they can both play first base too, so they create some versatility for us. Laynce can probably play a little center field but I feel more comfortable with John out there. John can play all three. Laynce probably the corners and first base. So there is some versatility there, which is good."
On his early evaluation on the competition for the final three jobs in the bullpen: "It's open. Nobody has really stepped up except for maybe Aumont a little bit, and now he is over in the WBC. Aumont has pitched as well as anybody. It looks like he has a good demeanor, is confident on the mound. So that's good. I think Valdes took another step forward. We'll see how Horst pitches next time out. I have confidence in Horst because he has pitched so well for us last year. He's going to have a little bit of an edge over some of the other guys, naturally, but things are open."
On Chase Utley's progression: "Great. I haven't heard anything from the trainers about him, or the doctors."
On whether he can take anything from a spring training game against the Nationals beyond a normal spring training game: "We're going to see a hell of a pitcher on the mound, and a great team. They're a great team. It's as simple as that."