Injury Hits Brown In Midst Of Adjustment
Phillies outfielder has surgery on right hand
CLEARWATER, Fla.—Domonic Brown was just starting to get the feel back. After weeks of tinkering with the positioning of his hands in his batting stance, he finally felt comfortable.
Then, with one swing, he broke his right hand and was lost for the remainder of spring training. Brown, 23, fractured the hook of the hamate on March 5 and had surgery three days later. He is expected to resume baseball activity in early April. The injury ended his bid to make the Phillies' Opening Day roster, not that it had gone particularly well.
The Phillies 20th-round pick in 2006, Brown started off 0-for-15 with nine strikeouts. Ironically, he got his first hit two swings after breaking his hand on a foul ball. Part of Brown's struggles stemmed from his trying to find a comfort zone with his hands. He lowered them dramatically from where they were last year. That didn't work. In time, he raised them to where they were when he hit .327/.391/.589 with 20 home runs and 68 RBIs in 343 at-bats between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley last season. That's where they will stay.
"I'm going back to what got me here," Brown said.
Hitting coach Greg Gross erased some misconceptions about Brown's swing. The organization, he said, did not try to get Brown to lower his hands. Phillies officials simply wanted Brown to get his hands back where they were at the start of 2010. They had migrated higher—with a slight wrist wrap—toward the end of the season when Brown got only sporadic playing time in the majors. In an effort to get Brown back where he was, Gross showed Brown video of a game last spring in which he homered off Justin Verlander and Phil Coke.
"He ended last season in a different position than he used during the season in the minor leagues," Gross said. "He always had his hands up, but he got into an extreme position. This was never about changing Domomic. It was strictly getting him back to the position he was at the start of last year. "
• Righthander Michael Stutes was bidding for a spot in the Phillies' bullpen. In his first nine innings, he allowed just one run while walking one and striking out nine.
• Outfielder John Mayberry Jr. was making a strong case to open in the majors. He had four doubles, four homers and nine RBIs in his first 15 games.