CLEARWATER, Fla. — Domonic Brown swung and the ball disappeared behind the black batter's eye at Bright House Field. In the dugout, Charlie Manuel smiled. Catching coach Mick Billmeyer turned to the manager and said, "He hit that pretty good."
"I was trying to look," Brown said, "but I didn't see."
That admission earned him some trash talk from Ryan Howard in the clubhouse. Brown hit his second home run in three days, and the latest is one they will talk about for a long time here.
He smacked a two-strike fastball from a 22-year-old Yankees minor-leaguer named Zach Nuding. It is 401 feet to dead center. Brown hit it over the batter's eye, which is approximately 25 feet high.
In a quest to win a job, Brown has started well. He is 3 for 7 in his first three games with two homers, three runs and a walk.
"What you see, that's what he can do," Manuel said.
Brown said he added about 10 pounds of muscle to his upper body. (Although Laynce Nix, an expert on these things, told Brown it must be 20 pounds.)
Manuel sees a renewed confidence in Brown, the erstwhile top prospect.
"Very much so," Manuel said. "Domonic looks like he has slowed down at the plate. The way he has hit the ball here lately, that's what I call staying behind the ball. Keep your balance."
Or, as Brown put it, "I think I've been through a lot."