His misplay in left cost the game against the Marlins and his .594 OPS is ranked 162nd out of 167 qualified players in baseball

By Sam Bush

The elephant in the room for the Phillies is Domonic Brown, who, it is obvious to anyone, cannot play left field at the major league level, and by the way has looked like a minor leaguer at the plate this year.

“Domonic is our left fielder, as we speak,” manager Ryne Sandberg said after the Phillies’ 3-2 loss to the Miami Marlins last night at Citizens Bank Park

Brown, an All-Star in 2013, misjudged a two-out liner by Marcell Ozuna in the fourth inning, leading to a three-run inning for the Marlins. He had also failed to go all out for a bloop to short left in the ninth inning Monday in the Phillies’ 4-0 loss to Miami, resulting in a run-scoring single for Reed Johnson.

Sandberg gave him the day off Tuesday, ostensibly so Brown could work on his hitting; Brown’s average stands at .217. When Sandberg was asked about Monday’s misplay, he said, “When you’re talking about that situation and an add-on run, to attempt for a catch at all costs was the play.”

Brown did have an RBI single in Wednesday’s game, his only hit in four at-bats. Afterward he was accountable for his error in judgment, facing reporters and saying, “That play has to be made. I told A.J. (Burnett, the Phillies’ starting pitcher) I was sorry. (Ozuna) hit it hard. I took a step in, and it was too late. I’m upset at myself.”

The Brown misplaywas not ruled an error, but it was a defensive mistake.

Brown heard boos following the play and more when he grounded out with a runner on third with two outs in the bottom of the inning. Brown entered the night with a .594 OPS, which ranked 162nd out of 167 qualified players in baseball. His .601 OPS as a left fielder is last among 25 qualified left fielders, and he is on pace to have the lowest OPS of any left fielder in baseball since Chuck Knoblauch posted a .582 OPS as Kansas City’s left fielder in 2002.

“It’s just been a frustrating year for myself,” Brown said. “I mean, we still have three months to go, but [darn]. I’ve got to pick it up for sure.”

The Phillies signed outfielder Grady Sizemore to a Minor League contract on Tuesday. He hit just .215 with 10 doubles, two triples, two home runs, 15 RBIs and a .612 OPS in 52 games before the Red Sox released him last week. But if the Phillies like what they see from him in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he reports Thursday, he will join the big club in the near future.

Sizemore could take playing time from Brown.

“I’d like to have more production in the outfield,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Tuesday about Sizemore’s signing. “It’s pretty simple.”

Asked what more he can do about Brown’s play in left field, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said, “Go to tomorrow and figure out a lineup.”

Asked if he feels limited in his options in left field, Sandberg only said, “Well, Domonic is our left fielder, as we speak. He’s capable of swinging the bat. Every time he goes up there, I have confidence it might be the time he pops one and he drives in two or three runs.”


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