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Brown set to prove he deserves roster spot

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Domonic Brown is still looking for that one extended opportunity to prove himself.

This could be the year.

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"You know what?" Brown said Thursday morning at Bright House Field. "I've been waiting for that for a long time. When I get that opportunity, getting that like I did at the second half of last year, see what I'm capable of in 400-500 at-bats."

Brown entered the previous two springs with an opportunity to win a job, but injuries derailed those chances each time. He enters this spring healthy and likely to contend for the final outfield job on the 25-man roster: Ben Revere is the team's everyday center fielder and a lock to make the team. Delmon Young is expected to be the team's right fielder, though he could miss the first couple of weeks of the season because of an ankle injury. He is a safe bet to make the squad. John Mayberry Jr. seems assured a job because he is out of options, he hits left-handed pitching well and is the only outfielder other than Revere who can play competent center field. And Laynce Nix is in line for a spot because he is a veteran left-handed hitter with some pop and is guaranteed to make $1.35 million.

That would seem to leave Brown and Darin Ruf competing for that final job.

It could be Brown's last best shot to win a job, too.

"I don't know," Brown said. "We'll leave that up to Ruben [Amaro Jr.], man. He makes the decisions. I've still got one more option, so we'll see what happens."

Brown has hit a combined .236 with a .315 on-base percentage and .388 slugging percentage in parts of three seasons with the Phillies. He will need to produce much better than that if he expects to play every day. But he believes he can with regular work. Brown's big league career has been mostly a series of stops and starts because of injuries and various roster considerations. Just last season he missed time because of thumb, neck, hamstring and knee issues.

"I'd say it's incomplete, because we've had a hard time keeping him on the field," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, when asked how he would sum up Brown's first three seasons with the Phillies. "I think until he gets to stay in the lineup for a while that's kind of where we're at. He needs to play at a consistent pace."

And even then he will need to produce offensively and defensively.

"I'm just going to go out, keep having fun and really not worry about anything," he said. "If I get sent down, that'll be that, too. I'll just go down and work hard. And that's it."

Manuel essentially said the winner of the job might come down to who has the best spring.

"I'd say we'd just throw them out there and let them see who does the best," he said. "We've got some guys here; we've got some outfielders we need to watch play. We'll see which ones produce for us."

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