03/23/12 5:27 PM ET
Hampered by injuries, Brown optioned by Phils
Outfielder has been slowed by sprained right thumb, stiff neck
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
The Phillies optioned him to Minor League camp Friday morning. He had trouble getting on the field this month because of a sprained right thumb and a stiff neck, which limited him to just seven Grapefruit League games. Brown hit .300 (6-for-20) with two triples, one home run, two RBIs, one walk and a .983 OPS, but showed he needed more work in left field, which has been a struggle.
"He's got some work to do there," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "We're not in the mode right now to develop guys at the Major League level, and he's a guy that needs to get to the point where we're comfortable with him in all phases of the game and then get him back to Philadelphia when he's ready to do that."
Brown, although not surprised, was clearly disappointed.
"Life goes on," he said. "I'm going to go down there and play hard. And that's it. I was not expecting it but keeping it in the back of my mind. We've got a lot of big-name free-agent guys. John Mayberry is playing well. They just told me they want to see me out there every day, so Triple-A is the best spot for it. I've been through a lot these last couple years, a lot more than some veteran guys, so I think I can deal with it. I think I can handle it. Go down there and play hard and that's all I can do."
The Phillies said in the offseason they planned to have Brown start the season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he can work on his offense and defense. The Phillies believe they have enough options in left field to open the season, even with Mayberry expected to play some first base while Ryan Howard is out. Laynce Nix and Juan Pierre, who is the favorite to be the team's fifth outfielder, can play left field when Mayberry is at first.
Asked if playing in Triple-A will at least give him a clear mind, Brown said, "No, I wanted to be here, man. That's the goal, but things happen."
If Brown continues to hit, which always has been his strength, and improves enough to be a capable left fielder, he could rejoin the team at some point this season.
"He's still a work in progress," Amaro said. "He's not a ready-made Major League player yet. If he was, he'd be here."
Pierre may have edge for fifth outfield spot
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Opening Day is less than two weeks away, and as much as the infield situation is unsettled because of injuries the Phillies still have decisions to make in the outfield.
Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino, John Mayberry Jr. and Laynce Nix are locks to make the team, but the Phillies need another outfielder with Mayberry expected to see time at first base while Ryan Howard is on the disabled list.
There are three candidates for the fifth job: Juan Pierre, Scott Podsednik and Luis Montanez.
Pierre could have the inside track. He is hitting just .257 (9-for-35), but can ask for his release if he is not on the big league roster by March 31. That is important because teams like to hold onto their inventory. Podsednik, who is hitting .385 (15-for-39), and Montanez, who is hitting .371 (13-for-35), cannot ask for their releases until June 1, which could play into Pierre's favor.
"They're battling. We're still watching," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "We're going to try to take the best 25 guys."
The Phillies could use another right-handed bat for the bench. Montanez has opened some eyes this camp, so if the Phillies carry just 11 pitchers he could possibly make the roster.
"In a perfect world, we'd like to have a little bit more balance, but we could probably go with the guys we have," said Amaro, asked about the need for another right-handed bat. "We need to figure out the extra outfield situation. We've got some question marks. These guys will show us who's ready."
Right-hander Vance Worley allowed seven hits, three runs, one walk and struck out seven in six innings Friday in a 5-3 loss to the Yankees at Bright House Field. Worley has been trying to throw a split-fingered changeup, but it has not gone well. Pitching coach Rich Dubee said they will go back to Worley's old changeup grip in his next bullpen session.
Left-hander Antonio Bastardo, who has not pitched since last Sunday because of muscle tightness in his arm, is scheduled to pitch a Grapefruit League game this Sunday.
The Phillies called up infielder Tim Kennelly to big-league camp because of assorted injuries to infielders.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.