3/24/2014 4:28 P.M. ET
Brown looking to build on breakout year
By Todd Zolecki and Austin Laymance / MLB.com
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- It appears a recent battle with the flu won't derail Domonic Brown's quest to improve on a breakout 2013 season with the Phillies. The outfielder's power stroke was back on Sunday, a welcome sign for a club that has struggled offensively in Spring Training.
In his second game back after missing a week with the flu, Brown ripped a pair of doubles in a 5-1 Grapefruit League win over the Twins. Brown entered the game with only one extra-base hit this spring. But he laced a double down the right-field line in his first at-bat, then lined another off the fence in right his next time up.
"That was good to see," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said.
Brown entered Monday's 6-3 win over the Blue Jays hitting .190 in 16 games this spring, and lifted his average to .196, going 1-for-4 with a single.
Still, the left fielder has said he will be ready for Opening Day next Monday in Texas.
Brown's manager certainly believes he can perform at an All-Star level again this year. While Sandberg noted "nothing is for sure in baseball," the manager did say he likes what he's seen from Brown in Spring Training.
"I like what he's doing," Sandberg said. "I like his attitude. I like the way he's looking right now. Talented player. A lot of tools. The potential is there. It's another season. Last season was a stepping stone for him and something he can build on."
Brown hit 27 home runs last season, a career-high, but has none this spring. That doesn't bother Sandberg, who said he's been pleased with Brown's improvement in other areas of the game.
"I think he's come a long way defensively," the manager said. "He showed a good arm out there. He continues to work at all parts of his game, which he needs to do. Once he gets running on the bases, he does a nice job there."
In addition, Brown has shown "constant maturity" in Sandberg's opinion, no doubt a result of the veteran presence in the Phillies' clubhouse. Brown's Spring Training locker is nestled between those of Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Byrd.
"He's got good guys around him that help him along," Sandberg said.
Buchanan, Hollands taking advantage of chances
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- With Opening Day just one week away, the Phillies have some difficult decisions to make with their pitching staff, and left-hander Mario Hollands has emerged as a possibility to make the club.
Hollands can fill a variety of roles: starter, reliever, long man, situational lefty. He's impressed the coaching staff with a solid Spring Training, lowering his ERA to 1.64 with 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief in the Phillies' rain-shortened 6-3 victory over the Blue Jays on Monday.
"Hollands has pitched well. He's had a good spring," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said after Monday's Grapefruit League win. "He's got some funk to him from the left side. He's handled himself very well. He's been a bright spot as far as pitchers coming in with an opportunity. I think he's done a nice job."
David Buchanan has been another bright spot in camp. He made his fourth Grapefruit League start on Monday, striking out two over two perfect innings. Like Hollands, Buchanan has never pitched above Triple-A, but he still has a shot to make the Opening Day roster.
"The fact that I'm still here is a blessing for me," Buchanan said after Monday's start.
It's unclear how Buchanan fits into the Phillies' immediate plans. The club will need a fifth starter on April 13, with Cole Hamels set to open the season on the disabled list. Buchanan is an option to fill that void, but could also be a long man out of the bullpen. He will have one final audition on Saturday, as he's scheduled to pitch in the Phillies' final exhibition game against the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park.
"It's a dream come true, absolutely," Buchanan said of the opportunity to pitch in a big league park. "Hopefully, things continue to go right. I'm going to try to have fun. That's what the game is about. We'll go up there and have a good time and compete."
Rosenberg making excellent case for 'pen spot
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies reliever B.J. Rosenberg has a good chance to make his first Opening Day roster.
Rosenberg has been productive in Spring Training, building off a strong finish to the 2013 season after being promoted from Triple-A in August. The right-hander has gone more than one inning in each of his six Grapefruit League appearances, striking out 10 in 11 1/3 innings. On Sunday against the Twins, he fired two scoreless innings for the fourth time this spring.
For a bullpen that ranked 27th in the Major Leagues last year with a 4.19 ERA, the Phillies can use as many productive arms as they can find. Rosenberg's performance likely warrants a spot in the 'pen, but he's not taking anything for granted in the final week before Opening Day.
"It's important to just finish strong and keep building on what I've been working on," Rosenberg said on Monday. "I'm not trying to look too far ahead as far as a roster spot. I'm trying to keep working and be consistent and be ready for the season to start."
Rosenberg said he's been able to slow the game down this year, which he attributes in part to spending two months in the big leagues at the end of '13. He did not allow a run over eight appearances in August and earned his first career save in September, impressing the Phillies coaching staff along the way.
"That was huge, just for confidence alone," Rosenberg said. "The biggest thing was slowing the game down, not trying to do too much."
Rosenberg likely won't be closing games for the Phillies in April, but he's shown value as a reliever who can go multiple innings and fill almost any role.
"Over the last few years, I've really done kind of everything," Rosenberg said. "I've been a multiple-inning guy, I've closed a bit in Triple-A, last year I was throwing the eighth inning a lot. I feel comfortable doing whatever."
Abreu awaiting Phillies' roster decision
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies have until Wednesday to make a decision on Bobby Abreu.
They must add him to their Opening Day roster or he can ask for his release. Technically, the Phillies don't have to finalize their 25-man roster until 3 p.m. on Sunday, but they essentially need to tell Abreu in good faith whether he is in their plans. If he is, he must be added to the 40-man roster.
"I've done everything I could," Abreu said Monday morning at Bright House Field. "It's a decision that's not in my hands. I just have to go into the field and do my best. That's it. But I'm not really thinking about it right now. I just have to wait and see what happens."
Abreu, who will make $800,000 this season if he makes the big leagues, is hitting .257 (9-for-35) with three doubles, one triple, one RBI, nine walks and four strikeouts this spring. He has a .422 on-base percentage and an .822 OPS. That might be enough to make the team, but Abreu has been slowed this week because of a sore left shoulder. He said he tweaked it swinging the bat.
He said he hopes to play on Tuesday.
"It's not a big deal," he said. "It's just a little sore."
But there is much more than offense when it comes to determining Abreu's future. He has to show some competence in right field to earn a spot. Reviews have not been glowing.
"So far, he's been OK," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
Is he a liability out there?
"I wouldn't say so," skipper Ryne Sandberg said. "Not in a part-time, spot start."
• Hamels threw a bullpen session on Monday morning at Bright House Field as he continues to work his way back from inflammation in his left shoulder. Last week, Hamels said he would need two bullpen sessions before pitching in a game. He previously threw live batting practice on Saturday.
• The Phillies have a decision looming with non-roster infielder Ronny Cedeno. If Cedeno is not added to the roster by Tuesday, he can ask for his release, or the Phillies must pay him $100,000 to go to the Minors.
• Infielder Kevin Frandsen, who was outrighted to Triple-A on Sunday, did not travel with the Phillies to Monday's game. Frandsen has until Wednesday night to accept the assignment to the Minor Leagues, or he can elect to become a free agent and relinquish his 2014 salary of $900,000.
Amaro said Sunday that Frandsen still has an opportunity to earn a bench role with the Phillies in the final week of Spring Training, provided he chooses to remain with the organization.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jalaymance. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.