Domonic Brown's Injury Ends Battle for Right Field

Written By Bob Cunningham On Sunday, March 06, 2011
My feeling heading into this season was that Ben Francisco would win the opportunity to play right field for the Philadelphia Phillies in a fierce Spring Training battle with the youngster Dominic Brown.

I guess being half right isn't all bad. Actually, I guess it's half bad. Or half good, I suppose, depending upon your outlook.

But I digress.

Brown broke his right hand Saturday in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates and effectively ended a preseason battle that, for all intents and purposes, was over anyway. Brown broke his hand on a single hit up the middle of infield, but it was his first hit in Spring Training and broke an 0-for-16 stretch.

Add that to the fact that Francisco is currently hitting .421 with two home runs and Francisco becomes the obvious choice to replace the money-hungry Jayson Werth.

In fact, with the way Francisco is hitting, he might have also earned himself a shot to protect Ryan Howard in the five hole. A lot of the talk has been about putting Jimmy Rollins behind the Phillies' $125-million-dollar man, but the middle of the lineup has usually been occupied by a right-handed power hitter (Pat Burrell and then Werth) during Charlie Manuel's tenure, and Francisco is trying to show he can be next in line.

Francisco is entering only his fifth season in the majors, but he has still never hit more than 15 home runs or had a slugging percentage over .447 (not counting his first season in the majors when his slugging percentage was .500 with only 62 at-bats). That's a considerable drop from Werth (.532 in 2010), but a much better option than Rollins (.374).

Rollins did have a .531 slugging percentage in his MVP season, but that season was clearly an aberration for him at the plate.

It might be worth noting that in 2009 when Francisco joined the Phillies half-way through the season, he had a .562 slugging percentage in 97 at-bats.

Brown did not have much of a chance to beat Francisco, but he at least had a shot to make the bench. Now, however, he will most likely be forced to have surgery and probably miss about a month and a half with rehab, and then spend another month just trying to get his swing back.

At this point, it's looking like most of Brown's 2011 season will be spent in Lehigh Valley. Perhaps that's where he's belonged all along, but that's a different argument for a different day.

Right field was the only contested position, so aside from a couple spots in the bullpen and on the bench, the 25-man roster is set.

The only thing left to do is hope Chase Utley's knee can get healthy and the starters can spend the rest of Spring Training meshing while the coaching staff figures out the bench players who will be backing them up.


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