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."
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.