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Brown has chance to restart career with Blue Jays

Outfielder embraces opportunity after not meeting expectations in Philadelphia
MLB.com @gregorMLB

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Philadelphia has garnered a reputation over the years of being one of the most difficult cities to play professional sports. When an athlete struggles, the fans and media have no problem voicing their displeasure, something Domonic Brown is familiar with from his time with the Phillies.

The 28-year-old outfielder -- who signed a Minor League deal with the Blue Jays on Thursday -- was once rated as one of the top prospects in the game, but his career at the big league level has yet to pan out. There was an appearance at the 2013 All-Star Game, but outside of that one year Brown has struggled, posting a .246 career average and a .305 on-base percentage.

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Philadelphia has garnered a reputation over the years of being one of the most difficult cities to play professional sports. When an athlete struggles, the fans and media have no problem voicing their displeasure, something Domonic Brown is familiar with from his time with the Phillies.

The 28-year-old outfielder -- who signed a Minor League deal with the Blue Jays on Thursday -- was once rated as one of the top prospects in the game, but his career at the big league level has yet to pan out. There was an appearance at the 2013 All-Star Game, but outside of that one year Brown has struggled, posting a .246 career average and a .305 on-base percentage.

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This is not the way his career was supposed to turn out after coming through the Minors with more hype than just about anyone in the game. Brown was considered a five-tool talent with the type of raw power that scouts dream about, and since he is still young, Brown knows that he's capable of that kind of production, it just needs to resurface.

"If you can play [in Philadelphia] and struggle and be fine mentally, I knew I was doing something right," said Brown. "I still love the game, I wasn't ready to go, things just played out that way.

"I definitely love Philly, but at the same time, if you're not playing well, you're going to hear it. That's fine, there was no problem with that. I take ownership in myself and know that I wasn't playing up to my ability."

Brown admits part of the problem stemmed from the fact that he became too "pull happy" during his time with the Phillies. During his first two years in the Majors, opposing pitchers tried to bust Brown inside, and the left-handed hitter made an adjustment prior to 2013 by trying to pull everything to the right side of the field.

That led to an All-Star campaign that saw Brown hit .272 with 27 homers and 83 RBIs over 139 games. In Brown's view, the issue then came when pitchers started going to the outer half of the plate with more regularity. He still tried to pull those pitches, and the end result was a disappointing .634 OPS during each of the past two years.

The hope is that Brown will be able to make some adjustments this spring to combat the different approach.

"I definitely look at a lot of those at-bats and things I was feeling," Brown said. "Left-center over, and I've never been that guy coming through the Minor Leagues, I was always right-center over. I'm just going back to staying in the middle of the field really, just to shorten things up, keep it simple."

Brown arrived in camp without any guarantees, but there does appear to be a path for a return to the Major Leagues. Michael Saunders is the presumed starter in left field, but he has battled a wide variety of injuries over the years and the Blue Jays are auditioning Ezequiel Carrera, Junior Lake, plus Brown, for the backup spot.

"I'll play wherever the team needs me to play, whether it's left-handed catcher or whatever, Little League style," Brown said. "I'm not trying to come here and be cocky about anything. They told me about [wearing] No. 81 -- put Terrell Owens on me, if you got to. I'm just willing to work hard, I'm excited and ready to get things going."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Domonic Brown