For better or fer worse, the decision to keep Domonic Brown on the postseason roster and leave Greg Dobbs off is unlikely to define this National League Championship Series. Still . . .
"You never know," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said yesterday.
Matt Stairs proved a couple of years ago that a bench player can have a big impact on a postseason series, so the Phillies' decision to keep the rookie Brown over the veteran Dobbs was not made lightly.
"It was a tough decision, but it was more a decision on Charlie's part more than anything else," Amaro said. "I mean, we talked about it internally, but I think, ultimately, Charlie felt it was the right thing for us to do."
The Phillies had to make the move to make room for righthander Kyle Kendrick, who was not on the NL Division Series roster, but whose presence is warranted with the longer series. In their three-game sweep over the Reds last week, Joe Blanton was in the bullpen in case of emergency. Now, with Blanton in line to start Game 4 against the San Francisco Giants, the bullpen job will fall to Kendrick, who started 31 games and went 11-10 with a 4.73 ERA in the regular season.
Dobbs has had a frustrating couple of years since spending 2007 and 2008 as one of the NL's top pinch-hitters. He hit .247 last season, then went 0-for-4 in the postseason. This year, he hit .196 and was twice designated for assignment, which resulted in two stints at Triple A Lehigh Valley. The 32-year-old veteran, who could become a free agent in the offseason if the Phillies decline to offer him arbitration, did not have an at-bat in the NLDS, although he was on the roster.
Brown, 23, the organization's top outfield prospect, grounded into a forceout in his only at-bat in the NLDS. Called up when Shane Victorino went on the disabled list in late July, he played well in spurts, but saw his playing time diminish once the Phillies' centerfielder returned. He finished the regular season 13-for-62 (.210), with three doubles, two home runs, 13 RBI and eight runs. Despite his inexperience, Brown brings some versatility to the bench: In 93 games at Double A Reading and Triple A Lehigh Valley this season, he hit 20 home runs and converted 17 of 24 stolen-base attempts.
The Phillies are as healthy as they have been all season, with Jimmy Rollins expected to continue starting at shortstop despite a lingering hamstring injury that has him running at less than 100 percent. Third baseman Placido Polanco's back soreness, which caused him to miss Game 1 of the NLDS, is no longer an issue, Amaro said.
The decision to part with Dobbs, who plays third base, and go with the outfielder Brown is a good indication of their confidence in both Rollins' and Polanco's health.
"Those guys are feeling fine," Amaro said. "There's risk any time. If we have a problem, I think we have it covered."
The Phillies worked out yesterday evening at Citizens Bank Park, only their second on-field workout since capping off a sweep of the Reds on Sunday . . . Righthander Roy Oswalt, scheduled to pitch Game 2 tomorrow, threw about 50 pitches to Phillies hitters on Tuesday afternoon in an effort to prevent some of the rust he said he battled in Game 2 of the NLDS, when he allowed four runs in five innings. *
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