Is Brown the first choice? Not yet

Domonic Brown will have his chance to secure the starting job in right field, according to Charlie Manuel. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- More than a few ears perked up during Charlie Manuel's daily briefing with reporters as he discussed seeing some younger and non-roster players compete for jobs.

"We're seeing how we can fill right field," Manuel said. "Domonic Brown is definitely kind of the first choice there."

Huh? Did the Phillies manager just annoint Brown the favorite to win the job? We asked Manuel afterward for some clarification and this is what he had to offer:

"I should have been a little more specific," Manuel said. "By 'first choice' I mean I want to put him out there and play him a lot [in spring training]. He's going to get a lot of at-bats.

"That job is up for grabs."

In fact, Manuel did everything he could to dissuade the notion that Brown could be the everyday starter in right field for the entire season.

"Domonic Brown is going to come in here and get a chance to play and he has a lot of ability," Manuel said. "The more experience we can get him in spring training, the faster he may be able to be an everyday player in the big leagues. If he has a good spring and he makes our team, I'm looking at a guy who is going to get 350, 400 at-bats. That's a minor-league season. In a first year in the big leagues, that's good."

Manuel pointed to his use of other rookies while with Cleveland, like Jim Thome (321 AB in his first extended major-league time), Manny Ramirez (290 AB) and Mark Lewis (314 AB).

"They held their own," Manuel said. "A good year for Domonic would be that. That doesn't mean to say ... if he plays excellent, he may get more at-bats."

Basically, the manager stressed the need to have a righthanded player to compliment Brown if he indeed plays the majority of the time. Ben Francisco is the primary candidate. John Mayberry Jr. has a chance to be a bench player.

"Francisco and Mayberry, they're going to get a good chance to play," Manuel said. "I think it's time we give Ben a chance. We look at Mayberry as someone who can make our team and be productive in a role."

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