Sunday, February 7, 2016

Could Domonic Brown bat fifth for Phillies?

Domonic Brown smacked another home run Tuesday, his sixth of the spring. That tied him for the major-league lead in spring games. Could he hit fifth for Charlie Manuel?

Could Domonic Brown bat fifth for Phillies?

Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)
Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Domonic Brown will be in Charlie Manuel's opening-day lineup, this much is for sure. The 25-year-old outfielder has morphed his unfulfilled promise into this spring's surprise in the span of 71 Grapefruit League plate appearances. That, at least, is the prevailing narrative.

He smacked another home run Tuesday, his sixth of the spring. That tied him for the major-league lead in spring games. His slugging percentage is an obscene .714, which puts him near the top of baseball.

Twenty-two exhibition games hardly make a career. Nonetheless, Brown has displayed incredible power. That could earn him a prominent spot in Manuel's lineup. He hit fifth Tuesday, and Manuel likes the idea of that becoming a regular assignment.

"He can hit there," the manager said.

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Manuel said he has an opening-day lineup in his mind but would not reveal it. Against righthanded starters, it's possible he slots Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Brown together in the heart of his order. It is more complicated against lefties, depending on who bats second.

"We're not going to line up all of those lefthanded hitters because when the season starts, we'll see better lefthanded pitching," Manuel said. "They're going to save those lefthanded pitchers for us. I don't think we can afford to hang four or five lefties in a row."

Manuel gushed when describing Brown's fourth-inning at-bat against Yankees righty Adam Warren. The pitch immediately before the homer was a fastball. Brown swung late and fouled it off. Warren countered with an inside and low slider. Brown crushed it.

Before, when Brown was not balanced and routinely late, that does not happen.

"He would leak out and push the ball to left field," Manuel said. "Now he's driving the ball. He's having a big spring."

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