CLEARWATER, Fla. — When Ruben Amaro Jr. declared "in a perfect world" Delmon Young would be his everyday right fielder, he issued one small caveat a month ago.
Young is already behind schedule.
The controversial outfielder reported to camp Friday morning but did not speak to reporters. Young had microfracture surgery on his ankle in November. It's unknown when he will be ready to play in Grapefruit League games, or if he will at all.
That undermines the prevailing narrative in Phillies spring training: Domonic Brown, Darin Ruf and John Mayberry Jr. are fighting for one spot. In reality, both corner outfield spots are probably up for grabs because Young is likely to start the season on the disabled list.
"I'd say we'd just throw them out there," Manuel said, "and let them see who does the best."
The Phillies hope Young, a former first-round pick who has not played right field in five years, eventually seizes his opportunity. Until then, Grapefruit League games will serve as the measuring stick.
Expect Ruf and Brown to accumulate many at-bats this spring. It's not a stretch to think both could be starting on April 1 in Atlanta.
Manuel was asked Thursday if he was still open to the idea of a platoon, or at least splitting time at one of the corners.
"I don't care... as long as it gets done," Manuel said. "We think about a lot of things. I talk with our guys, our staff and everything. We want to play the best team we possibly can and see what happens. If it happens to be platoon guys I might have to do that."
Manuel has harped on defense being a necessity. When asked about what Brown must accomplish this spring, it was forefront on the manager's mind.
"He has to play defense," Manuel said. "He has to play stable defense. But also, he's got to be productive. I don't care who we have to play out there. We need some defensive play, and we also need some production. We need some production out of them."
IN FRIDAY'S INQUIRER
- Ryan Howard says he must stop "listening to the noise" and "let the inner me come out." Age is against him.
- Domonic Brown wants a real opportunity to win a job this spring. Bob Brookover writes it could be Brown's first and last shot at that.
- In two weeks, Phillippe Aumont will leave Phillies camp, but he thinks it'll help win him a bullpen spot.
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