Phillies Notebook: Frandsen Hurt, Dom Brown Still Knee Still Sore
An MRI of Kevin Frandsen's left ankle Saturday revealed a stress fracture of the fibula, assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said.
Proefrock called Frandsen's status "day-to-day," and said Frandsen's availability will depend on pain tolerance, likening it to the situation with Nate Schierholtz and his broken toe.
Proefrock did say, however, that he'd like to "stay away from (Frandsen)" for now.
Before Friday, Frandsen had played 34-of-35 games since July 29, his first start in place of Placido Polanco. With the late scratch two hours before first pitch, Frandsen would miss his second straight game and need the diagnostic.
Be it coincidence or causation, and hardly a definitive sample size, Frandsen's play did fall off a bit of late.
He hit at a .352 clip with an .802 OPS in 28 games in August. In four games this month, he mustered a mere .188 average.
Needless to say, given the up-in-the-air situation at third base for next season, the feel-goodiness of Frandsen's 2012 and the off-chance the Phillies squeak into October, Charlie Manuel wants Frandsen back before season's end.
"He's done a tremendous job," Manuel said. "He's gotten a lot of hits, he's played a real good third base."
That generalization includes the five errors Frandsen made in 76 chances this season, for a fielding percentage that, if he qualified, would rank second-to-last among big-league third basemen. One of those was that ninth-inning blunder against the Braves last Sunday that left the door ajar for a comeback win to stave off the series sweep and a Phillies advance in the Wild Card standings one more uber-meaningful game.
"He's made some mistakes, that's fine," Manuel said. "He hustles, and he brings energy to our team. We want him back."
Entering the Phillies Aug. 23 tilt with the Reds, Dom Brown might not have looked every bit the phenom part. But he was functional, serviceable, competent, far more than the team had come to expect of the rest of the outfield lot and, at that point, far more than they could’ve asked for.
Before that all-too-telling partition, Brown hit at a .286 clip with a home run and 11 RBIs, with a strikeout-to-walk ratio just a touch over one. Not bad at all.
But after that night’s game, Brown approached Manuel to let on that he was experiencing knee pain. Not the same pain that kept him out a month in June, at least not in the context of the current complaint. (Brown said the next day he was actually taking pain killers for his right knee, the more notoriously bothersome one.) But pain, prohibitive at this point, nonetheless.
So Manuel sat him down for a game. Just one. That’s all, all because the tenor from that point on was all I’m Fine’s from Brown.
Trusting the observations of the guy he figured credible on the subject, Manuel posted the next game’s lineup card with Brown in it. When the ninth inning hit, and Brown couldn’t muster more than a power walk over to field a double off Antonio Bastardo that, frankly, wouldn’t have turned two runs for the other guys (in this case, the Mets) on the watch of a healthy left fielder, the jig was pretty much up.
Something was up with Dom Brown.
That something hasn’t come down yet.
Since Aug. 23, Brown has gathered just one hit, in 23 at-bats.
That’s an 0.043 average, and a problem.
“He hasn’t been hitting real good,” Manuel acknowledged Saturday.
Worse, be it judgement or posture or follow-through or any one of a number of finer mechanical nuances that can be corrupted by the slightest ailment, physical or mental or otherwise, Brown’s struck out eight times (34.7 percent) and walked just twice. In seven seasons in the minors, Brown never once had a strikeout-to-walk ratio over 2.00 for the season.
“Last night, he was swinging at breaking balls that were out of the strike zone, swinging too hard,” Manuel said.
But he’s not swinging different, according to Manuel.
“I see the same swing,” he said. When asked a different way about whether there was a perceptible change in something — anything — in Brown’s approach before and after that Aug. 23 turning point, Manuel replied: “Not really.”
Still, the funk hasn’t gone unnoticed. Not only did he acknowledge Brown’s lack of production and the understandable inquiry into whether it had something to do with a change somewhere, Manuel said he and Brown talk “all the time” about his game inside the batter’s box.
“We talk to him every day,” Manuel said. “We talk to him about his hitting. I talk to him about his hitting.”
And the discourse isn’t one-sided.
“(Brown) walked right up to me one weekend during the day, and we talked about his hitting and things.”
So what gives? What’s the solution? According to Manuel, the same growth and development and maturation incumbent upon any up-and-comer.
“There’s gonna come a time down the road, when he learns more about his hitting, he’s gonna have to correct some things to be the hitter I think he can be, other people think he can be,” he said. “He’s still in the learning process.”
“Once he does that, that’s when he’s gonna get the most out of his hitting.”
And the Phillies are going to get the most out of him. That, they’d have to hope, is as good or better than everything Brown was before Aug. 23.