This time a year ago, he was closing in on his first All-Star Game appearance.
Now, Domonic Brown is hitting .218 and needs “a little mental break,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said Tuesday before the Phils tried to end a three-game losing streak.
Brown, who is hitting .189 since April 27, found himself on the bench Tuesday for the Phillies’ game against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park, and Sandberg indicated that it might not be Brown’s only night off.
“Maybe a little mental break and start over,” Sandberg said when asked what the struggling Brown needs. “Maybe something will click and he’ll get to where he was.”
Sandberg’s lineup Tuesday had John Mayberry Jr. playing left field and batting seventh.
Sandberg wouldn’t say how long Brown might sit.
“Just day to day,” he said. “What I feel like.”
Sandberg had Brown taking extra work in the cage before batting practice Tuesday afternoon. He said the biggest issue with Brown is that he’s gotten into the habit of upper-cutting instead of taking a level swing.
“Yeah, he had a little extra batting practice, a little drill to shorten up a little bit,” Sandberg said. “Compact, short, more of a line-drive approach. … We’ve done this drill inside in the cage, but to have it on the field, maybe … he’ll get [back to a] level path and almost swinging downward at the ball.”
Of 55 outfielders with at least 250 plate appearances, Brown ranks 51st with a .218 batting average, 53rd with a .272 on-base percentage, 53rd with a .324 slugging percentage and 53rd with a .596 OPS.
For the sake of comparison, he finished last year at .272 with a .324 on-base percentage, .494 slugging and an .818 OPS. Among 47 outfielders with 500 plate appearances in 2013, he ranked 15th in OPS, 24th in batting average, 35th in on-base and eighth in slugging.
“Yeah, compared to last year, there’s a little bit of an upward bat path through the zone,” Sandberg said.
“He’s fouling off a lot of balls that he should be hitting that he hit last year, and it’s a little bit of an upper-cut swing that’s just been a habit that he’s had. He’s been working on it and it’s been a tough habit to break and it’s resulting in foul balls instead of balls that are squared up, then he gets in a hole because he misses a pitch and then he goes to the pitcher’s pitch, and that’s been a constant.”
Brown hit 27 homers last year but has just five this year in just under half a season.
“As far as forcing home runs with an upper-cut swing, that hasn’t been effective with the result of missing his pitch,” Sandberg said. “Good swings but missing. Fouling them straight back. A lot of foul balls straight back.”