ATANTA -- Ben Francisco has three hits in 28 May at-bats. His last extra-base hit was 51 plate appearances ago, a double in the first inning of a game in Arizona on April 27.
His season batting average is down to .230. (Yes, lower than Raul Ibanez.) But his on-base percenatge is still at .340. (Only six points below Ryan Howard and nine points below Shane Victorino.) So the patience is there, but the hits are not.
We bring this up because of the clamoring for Domonic Brown. And yes, most of it can be justified. Brown has been hitting the ball in triple A and at this point, you wonder if he has anything left to prove in the minors.
But the latest news, that Brown will miss at least another five days with a first-degree sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb, means the timetable is pushed back even more. Francisco has a longer leash.
Brown injured his thumb in Wednesday's game when diving for a ball in right field and the team said it was not serious. This morning, that prognosis was updated to the sprain, with a 5 to 7 day total timetable for recovery.
The Phillies sent Brown to the minors after a broken hook of the hamate bone cost him most of spring training because they said he needed more at-bats. Injuries -- a strained quadriceps last September, the hamate bone in the spring and now the thumb -- have slowed Brown's progression.
The 23-year-old prospect needs to show he can stay on the field and be productive for a few weeks at a time. Until then, the Phillies may hold off on promoting him and making him a regular at the major-league level.
The lineup as Joe Blanton takes the mound, opposed by Jair Jurrjens:
1. Jimmy Rollins 6
2. Shane Victorino 8
3. Placido Polanco 5
4. Ryan Howard 3
5. Ben Francisco 9
6. Raul Ibanez 7
7. Wilson Valdez 4
8. Dane Sardinha 2
9. Joe Blanton 1
The Phillies will wear uniforms that look like this, to honor the Negro League Philadelphia Stars.
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