“No promises,” says Gary Sheffield.
Greg Gross certainly tried.
He was patient. He stood at the back of the cage. He tossed some BP pitches. He left encouraging voicemails. He punched neigh-sayers in the face. He left more intense, frightening voicemails. He watched hours of tape, some of it even of Dom Brown swinging, attempting to pinpoint a new problem. His voicemails became mostly incoherent shouting followed by quiet sobs.
In the end, though, Domonic Brown was going to need some special help. And he found it, in the form of a guy who made a career out of doing things on baseball fields that didn’t end with most of a crowd in Allentown, PA booing him.
Meet Gary Sheffield. Or don’t, because you’ve probably heard of him because he’s Gary Fucking Sheffield, he of nine All-Star Games and many RBI and several regrettable decisions and getting shot that one time. He’s recently taken a shine to young Dom Brown, who, as we all know, is in great need of some shining. So, the Phillies recently put them in a room together and casually excused themselves, hoping for sparks.
Due to the room in question being a baseball field, those sparks were hopefully going to be clobbered baseballs. Sheffield wasted no time, crouching behind the cage, Gross-Style, and before Dom knew what had happened, he’d been monitored long enough to address an issue: his hips
Sheffield moved some things around and what do you know, Dom Brown went on to hit 40 home runs and 310 RBI in 2012 while Gary Sheffield leaned on the railing, nodding sagely, but then leaving just as Dom noticed him while being hoisted onto his celebrating teammates’ shoulders.
“Spring is a good time to dream a little bit.”
Dom has undergone some changes, and while he will certainly play somewhere in the Phillies organization, he is coming into camp pretty sure he will claw his way onto the Major League roster, and he may not even have to lure any of his competitors in a windowless room and lock the door. Or, if he’s feeling less subtle, strike them with a car, claiming it’s “baseball tradition.” Hard work and openness to change are key factors to bouncing back, I’ll bet, and with Gary Sheffield’s help, there’s no reason to make all those assumptions and apply all that pressure that got Dom in trouble in the first place.