Phillies' Amaro empathizes with Brown's winter-ball struggles

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"It's hard to start evaluating a guy until he has 50 or so at-bats," Phillies GM Ruben Amaro said of Domonic Brown. (David M Warren / Staff Photographer)

It's difficult to tell whether there is more pressure on Domonic Brown or Ruben Amaro Jr. this off-season.

Brown, the 23-year-old, five-tool outfielder, is on the verge of becoming the Phillies' starting rightfielder, thanks to the free-agent journey that is likely to take Jayson Werth into a new city and uniform.

Amaro, of course, is the general manager who must be willing to let that happen.

Before we move forward with that premise, let's flash back to Amaro's postmortem news conference after the Phillies were eliminated from the National League Championship Series by the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

This is what Amaro said about Brown that day: "We have not given the job to Domonic Brown, and he has been told that - flat out. He's going to have to earn a spot on our club next year. He is going to winter ball. He has been promised an opportunity that he will get a chance to play, but he is going to have to earn it."

So far, it's impossible to say that Brown has earned the job.

Playing right field for Escogido in the highly competitive Dominican Winter League, Brown batted .043 (1 for 23) with one double and two RBIs in his first seven games.

"It's hard to start evaluating a guy until he has 50 or so at-bats," Amaro said Tuesday. "Players have to start getting into a rhythm. Chase [Utley] and Ryan [Howard] went through it after being on the disabled list."

Brown was called up to the Phillies on July 28 after Shane Victorino landed on the disabled list and started nine of 11 games. After Aug. 11, however, Brown made just four starts for the remainder of the season, so it's understandable if he's rusty.

Amaro understands that sometimes teams can become impatient with players, because the Dominican Winter League is not in place to develop major-league hopefuls.

"I remember going down to the Dominican my last year in professional baseball in 1998, and I think I struck out 10 times in my first 12 at-bats," the GM said. "I hadn't played in two weeks, and they wanted immediate results."

Amaro said former big-leaguer Moises Alou is the general manager of the Escogido club, and he believes that Alou will show some patience with Brown.

"It does take a little time to get going, and this is a very talented kid," Amaro said. "He'll produce for them once he gets his legs underneath him."

It is far more important that Brown produce for the Phillies when the season begins in April - provided, of course, that Werth has moved on. There has been no indication otherwise at this point.

Werth was expected to reject the salary arbitration offered by the Phillies before Tuesday's midnight deadline. Amaro said he had not heard anything from the Werth camp in the afternoon. Werth's agent, Scott Boras, did not return a phone call.

Moyer opts for surgery. Though 48 and facing reconstructive surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left arm, Jamie Moyer is thinking about his baseball future.

Moyer revealed that he was slated for surgery by posting a message on the Twitter and Facebook page for the Jamie Moyer Foundation.

"It's official - Jamie is having surgery Wednesday and we are cautiously optimistic superman will make a comeback! - Karen and Jamie," the message read.

Moyer, a free agent, last pitched for the Phillies on July 20, leaving a game in St. Louis after the first inning with pain in his elbow. He initially opted against surgery and tried to pitch for Escogido in winter ball, but after three starts with the Dominican team, he reinjured the elbow and returned to his home in Florida.

The lefthander has a career record of 267-204 with a 4.24 ERA and, amazingly, he hopes to add to those numbers in the next season.

Extra bases. The Phillies must tender contracts to righthander Kyle Kendrick and outfielder Ben Francisco by Thursday's deadline or they will become free agents. Both players are eligible for salary arbitration and are expected to remain with the Phillies.

 


Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or bbrookover@phillynews.com.