CLEARWATER, Fla. — Over the past week, Domonic Brown missed some chances to prove he can be the regular left fielder for the Philadelphia Phillies when he left their spring training lineup while battling the flu.
Now he’s starting to bug opposing pitchers.
Brown got back in the swing of things Sunday, ripping two doubles in the Phillies 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins and playing a full game in the outfield for the first time since last week.
“I really didn’t know what to expect,” Brown said, adding he still felt “a little weak. I missed eight days, came back, felt good. I’m just trying to get all my energy back.”
His swing appears pretty healthy.
Brown lashed a double down the first-base line in the second inning, which moved Marlon Byrd to third base and set up the game’s first run on a sacrifice fly by Cody Asche. In the third inning, Brown unleashed a bomb that sailed over the head of Twins right fielder Oswaldo Acria and bounced against the wall for another double.
Both shots came off fastballs from Twins free agent signing Phil Hughes — who pitched Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to the franchise’s only Governors’ Cup championship in 2008 and won a World Series with the New York Yankees in 2009.
“That’s what I am, what a lot of us are — I’m a fastball hitter,” said Brown, who finished his day by going 2-for-4 and raising his hit total this spring to eight. “We just react on the other stuff. It felt good to square up a couple balls.”
Meanwhile, infielder Kevin Frandsen appears to be fitting in more like a square peg.
After the game, the Phillies announced they outrighted Frandsen to Triple-A Lehigh Valley — although he’ll still have an opportunity to win a bench job with the parent club over the final week of spring training.
Frandsen, who has hit .206 through 17 spring training games, has 72 hours to decide if he’ll accept the assignment if he fails to make Philadelphia’s opening-day roster or become a free agent — a choice he has after playing four consecutive minor league seasons with the same team. If Frandsen refuses to report to the IronPigs, his current contract with the Phillies will be voided.
That may not be a route Frandsen wants to take, since no other major league team put in a claim for Frandsen on the waiver wire before he was outrighted.
“He has a choice,” said Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., who added Frandsen can continue working out with the Phillies and playing spring games for them while he’s making his decision during the coming days. “It’s mostly the roster situation. We still think he can be a valuable part of the club.”
Amaro said the team hasn’t yet decided if it will open the season with a six-man bench or an eight-man bullpen.
“All the guys in camp are still eligible, they’re still competing,” Amaro said. “We’re giving ourselves some flexibility. We had not made any decisions on our club yet, other than we have four starters, we have a closer.”
But the Phillies are hoping Brown can close any debate about him once and for all.
“To play left field, to be a guy in our lineup,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said are his expectations of Brown. “He’s come a long way defensively, he showed a good arm out there, he’s matured greatly. Anything’s possible in baseball, but I like what he’s doing.”
Brown’s showed flashes of fullfilling such promise in the past.
After two years of wearing the tag of being the Phillies’ top prospect and failing to land a starting outfield job with the big club, Brown broke out with 27 homers and 83 RBI while playing in 139 games for Philadelphia last season.
But his defense sometimes made Phillies fans cringe, and the team reportedly shopped him as trade bait during the offseason.
They found no takers, and now he’s trying to take it to another level this season.
Brown, who had been struggling with a .186 batting average this spring, made his return to the Phillies as a designated hitter Saturday, when he went 0-for-3. He got back in the game Sunday, playing all nine innings in the outfield and ending Philadelphia’s victory with a solid snare of a fly ball for the game’s final out.
“I was basically playing catch-up,” said Brown, indicating he didn’t expect to play a full game in the outfield Sunday. “It feels good to be back and good to be out there.”
“It was good to see,” Sandberg said. “He didn’t miss his pitches today and squared up some balls nice.”
• The treatment has changed for infielder Freddy Galvis, who has been missing from the lineup with an abcess on his knee and may not be ready in time to open the season with the Phillies.
“The only thing I know, they are going to take him off the IV meds and go to oral treatment,” Amaro said. “The main thing now is to get the infection out of his body.”