Brown heating up with the weather
Outfielder showing off swing that led to so much promise in the spring
PHILADELPHIA -- Domonic Brown had the kind of Grapefruit League numbers that gave the Phillies hope that, at age 25, he was beginning to fulfill the potential that had once made him their top-rated prospect: A .356 batting average with seven homers and 17 RBIs in 90 at-bats. A 1.047 OPS.
Then, 20 games into the regular season, he was hitting .206 with just three extra-base hits.
As the weather has started to warm up, though, so has Brown. Going into Saturday night, he was batting .382 with three homers and eight RBIs in his previous nine games.
"When the season started, he was working to hold his own," said manager Charlie Manuel. "Right now, you're starting to see with some of his at-bats, it's kind of how he hit in the spring. He was very consistent in the spring and he showed his power. He showed his talent. We're starting to see that, and it's good. Hopefully he can continue to be consistent with it."
Manuel demurred when asked how many homers Brown is capable of hitting, but didn't flinch when asked if 30 is a realistic goal.
"I don't think that's outside the realm of possibility," the manager said. "What do I tell you a home run is? It's a well-hit fly ball that comes down behind the fence. Best hit in baseball. Think nothing of it, come back, sit down and think about hitting another ball hard. Not a home run. And that one might go out. And then you'd have two. And if you think like that, you keep things in perspective and focus on what you're doing, that's how you hit them. When you start wanting to hit them and thinking about hitting them and trying to hit them, more than likely you won't succeed."
Manuel wouldn't rule out 40, either.
"I think he can do that, yes," the manager said. "He's learning about the Major Leagues and also learning a lot about himself. He talks a lot with our hitting coaches. He's relaxed and he feels much better about himself and the game."
Manuel weighs in on Dubee criticism
PHILADELPHIA -- When former Phillies closer Mitch Williams criticized pitching coach Rich Dubee on Friday, right-hander Roy Halladay quickly came to his defense. Before Saturday night's game against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park, it was Charlie Manuel's turn.
Asked about the controversy, the Phillies manager first said he didn't want to get involved. But he quickly warmed to the subject.
"I'll tell you this, all right? Rich Dubee has meant a lot to us," Manuel said. "He's definitely been a part of our success here. He's a tremendous worker. He's a great communicator. I totally trust him. Sometimes my thinking about baseball is different from other people's. I see some pitchers we've run through here. And we had them in 55, 60 games. And we've had pitchers who leave us. I'm talking about quite a few, and they'll leave us and never show up in the big leagues [again]. And we got mileage out of them. And I look right back at Dubee."
Dubee was promoted to big league pitching coach following the 2004 season, shortly after Manuel was named manager. The two have become extremely close.
"I lean on Rich Dubee quite a bit," Manuel said. "You've probably heard me say that before. We communicate on pitching decisions. He's a huge part of what we do here. I think to be a leader, you've got to delegate jobs to your coaches. He's a tremendous pitching coach, but he's also a team player. He's all about our organization. He's all about winning. It's all about us getting better. He breaks down scouting reports. He organizes our Spring Training. He does about everything you can possibly do. And I'll stand behind him thick or thin or until I die."
While Dubee has been a constant in the Manuel era, there has been more change at hitting coach. Milt Thompson had that role in 2005, and was replaced by Greg Gross. This season, the Phillies have two hitting coaches, Steve Henderson and Wally Joyner. And Manuel doesn't buy the theory that coaches get too much credit when things are going well and too much blame when they don't.
"If you're successful and you're part of it, it's definitely got to hit in your area somewhere," Manuel said. "I was a hitting coach before I was a manager, and I thought I was a [darn] good hitting coach. And if you go back and look at my Minor League teams when I was a hitting coach, I think I was good. And I wanted to be good. And I wanted my hitters to be the best hitters in baseball. And I want our pitchers to be the best pitchers in baseball. And there's nothing wrong with that. I demand good players. I demand success. And Dubee definitely helps us fill that bill."
Young gets rare breather as Galvis starts at third
PHILADELPHIA -- For just the third time this season, third baseman Michael Young was out of the Phillies' starting lineup Saturday against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.
"Just to give him a little break. Get Freddy [Galvis] in the lineup," manager Charlie Manuel said. "Same way I gave Chase Utley a day off the other day. I watch Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Utley and Michael Young. We've got a day game [Sunday] and then we're going to the West Coast. Just try to find a place to get Freddy in the game, too."
Young is hitting .320 on the season, but is 2-for-15 (.133) in his last four starts. More significantly, he has just three doubles, one homer and six RBIs in 103 at-bats. Manuel said he's not concerned.
"He's hit some balls hard, line drives to the outfield that have been caught," the manager said. "When he hits balls into the gap, it's just a matter of him getting balls up in the air. It comes and goes. It will come. Sometimes it just happens that way. Some of the singles he's gotten have been hit good. It's just how he happens to make contract right now."
• Cole Hamels suffered his first loss in May on Saturday night since May 8, 2011, at Atlanta. Coming into the game, his career winning percentage of .846 (22-4) in the month since his rookie year in 2006 was the best of any Major League pitcher with at least 20 decisions in the month, according to Stats LLC.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.