The Philadelphia Phillies outfield mix might take an unexpected turn this season in two ways that weren't previously expected.
Domonic Brown began playing in centerfield for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs this week. At the same time, the Phillies radio crew noted that second baseman Chase Utley had been doing some work in left field.
Is it possible that both players could be part of the team's future outfield plans?
Everyone knows that Utley's return date remains uncertain. What has made his ongoing situation palatable is the emergence of Freddy Galvis. This excellent 22-year-old prospect surely seems certain to remain part of the Phillies infield plans moving forward.
The well-known options of platooning Utley with Galvis, or playing Utley at Ryan Howard's first base spot on occasion have been discussed ad nauseam. But, an interesting speculative option formed when radio announcers Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen mentioned that Utley had spent time in left field recently and then referenced Atlanta Braves infielder Chipper Jones past move to that spot for health-related reasons.
Only Utley, his doctors and trainers could intelligently guess at the viability of him actually playing left field, due to the physical differences that both positions entail. Obviously, issues involving double play contact and the various harsh movements that regular throws to first involve would be eliminated if he were to no longer play second base.
While left field is considered one of the easiest positions on the field, it does involve the need to run and dive. The impact on Utley's knees over time in that regard can't truly be measured.
Clearly, Galvis is among the best fielding second baseman in the major leagues. Because his hitting has also improved, we have to wonder if it would be wise to stop him from playing regularly. At the very least, he should be no less than a semi-platoon player if Utley does return to play second base.
Matters involving Juan Pierre, who has done a fine job, and the other left fielders in the current mix would simply have to sort themselves out if this pure speculation ever came to be.
As for Dom
No one knows if Brown will ever be able to play regularly, at any spot on the field, in the major leagues. Unless he's traded, we would have think that the Phillies will give him another shot at the show as soon as this season.
Barring injury, or trades involving other players, his chance might not come until September. If Victorino is moved this summer, no other centerfielder is obtained and Brown has shown that he can handle the duties of that job, he would surely be called up. If Victorino leaves in the offseason, keep an eye on Brown coming back to town in 2013.
The Phillies can't allow someone with his potential and low salary numbers to just float away into baseball oblivion.
This year, or next
The idea of seeing Hunter Pence in right field, Brown in centerfield and Utley in left field is hardly certain and may never happen in full. But, imagine if it did.
Baseball is all about this type of speculation, so let all of the naysayers fall off their high chairs. The 2012 season is and will continue to be a time of roster transition. Moves like the ones mentioned just might be part of the revised red river's flow.
Sean O'Brien's professional writing career began in 1990, when he first began working in the Philadelphia Phillies farm system. He was a freelance sports writer for five years and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
More from this author and the Yahoo Contributor Network:
- Sports & Recreation
- Chase Utley
- Domonic Brown