Brown looking to build on breakout year

Brown looking to build on breakout year

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- It appears a recent battle with the flu won't derail Domonic Brown's quest to improve on a breakout 2013 season with the Phillies. The outfielder's power stroke was back on Sunday, a welcome sign for a club that has struggled offensively in Spring Training.

In his second game back after missing a week with the flu, Brown ripped a pair of doubles in a 5-1 Grapefruit League win over the Twins. Brown entered the game with only one extra-base hit this spring. But he laced a double down the right-field line in his first at-bat, then lined another off the fence in right his next time up.

"That was good to see," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said.

Brown entered Monday's 6-3 win over the Blue Jays hitting .190 in 16 games this spring, and lifted his average to .196, going 1-for-4 with a single.

Still, the left fielder has said he will be ready for Opening Day next Monday in Texas.

Brown's manager certainly believes he can perform at an All-Star level again this year. While Sandberg noted "nothing is for sure in baseball," the manager did say he likes what he's seen from Brown in Spring Training.

"I like what he's doing," Sandberg said. "I like his attitude. I like the way he's looking right now. Talented player. A lot of tools. The potential is there. It's another season. Last season was a stepping stone for him and something he can build on."

Brown hit 27 home runs last season, a career-high, but has none this spring. That doesn't bother Sandberg, who said he's been pleased with Brown's improvement in other areas of the game.

"I think he's come a long way defensively," the manager said. "He showed a good arm out there. He continues to work at all parts of his game, which he needs to do. Once he gets running on the bases, he does a nice job there."

In addition, Brown has shown "constant maturity" in Sandberg's opinion, no doubt a result of the veteran presence in the Phillies' clubhouse. Brown's Spring Training locker is nestled between those of Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Byrd.

"He's got good guys around him that help him along," Sandberg said.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for Austin Laymance is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @jalaymance. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.