By Justin Adkins:
In his first at bat in Saturday’s game, Domonic Brown finally got his first spring hit. Unfortunately, he also broke his hand.
During the at bat, Brown fouled a pitch off and immediately shook his hand. He stayed in though, fouling off another pitch before stroking a solid single up the middle. Brown stayed in the game just long enough to run the bases but then quickly left the field, escorted by a trainer.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. indicated that initial x-rays showed a fracture of the hamate bone, located near the wrist, in Brown’s right hand. It’s an injury that likely will require surgery, with an estimated recovery time of 3-6 weeks. Per Amaro, Brown will head north to Philadelphia soon for further evaluation.
“He’ll be seen Monday or Tuesday to make sure the X-ray diagnosis is correct,” Amaro said. “I would think if he has to have surgery he would need three to six weeks of recovery time.”
It’s been a tough run lately for the young right fielder. After scuffling and barely playing to end the 2010 season, Brown had an abysmal stint in the Dominican Winter League, where after going 2-29 the team sent him home. Entering today’s game, Brown was 0-for-the-spring, hitless in 15 at bats with nine strikeouts.
Brown was recently working on his swing mechanics after being encouraged by Greg Gross to lower his hand placement. Now with a hand/wrist injury, Brown will be unable to swing at all until fully healed so as not to risk further lingering damage. And that means absolutely no further development in his quest to refine his swing for at least another month, maybe longer.
The door is now shut on Brown starting in right field this season, at least early on. It’s likely he will start the season on the disabled list, followed by a stint in Triple-A. With his offensive troubles compounded by an injury that won’t let him get any work in, Brown’s return to the lineup may take a while. It’s not really an injury that will kill his season and isn’t really uncommon, but it certainly doesn’t help a developing rookie.
Not only will Brown be unable to get work in, he will need rehab just to build strength back. A slow bat will do Brown no favors as he tries to become an actual major league hitter. So while he may be healed within a month or so, true recovery will take even longer.
And that opens the door for Ben Francisco, who was already looking to be the starting right fielder even before Brown’s injury. The veteran reserve has been having a nice spring so far, and his right-handed bat will help balance the lefty heavy lineup. In today’s game Francisco had a single, double, and long sac fly. His spring average sits at a crisp .421.
Amaro was typically non-committal regarding the right field situation, but there really aren’t many options.
“Nobody has won the rightfield job but Ben has done very well for us,” Amaro said.
So all signs point to Francisco starting the season as the everyday right fielder, likely with lefty Ross Gload seeing some action as well. John Mayberry Jr also looks to make the team and get some playing time at both corner outfield spots.
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