Corey Brown is back with the Washington Nationals as a September call-up, as he was a year ago. But it doesn’t feel the same.
“It definitely is different with a team that is doing so well, that has a chance to possibly win it all,” the outfielder said. “It’s a great feeling to be able to be called up.”
But in going from Triple-A Syracuse where he hit .285 with 25 homers playing every day to the majors, Brown’s at-bats will certainly take a nose dive. The 27-year-old outfielder is already behind starters Michael Morse, Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth and reserves Roger Bernadina and Tyler Moore, so it will be hard for him to crack the lineup.
“Well, nobody’s hurt,” manager Davey Johnson said. “I’ll probably think of something. But he’s a little bit behind Bernie in the pecking order. I might be able to get him an at-bat here and there, bring him in for defense.”
Brown, who got just three plate appearances in September 2011, was accustomed to an everyday role with the Syracuse Chiefs but understands it won’t be like that in Washington.
“I think for anyone it might be a little tough at first just trying to get used to another role. But knowing that this is going to be my role this year, and who knows how long, obviously I’m definitely going to accept it and just try to make the best of it,” Brown said. “If I get up for a pinch hit [or] for defense just try to go out there play as hard as I can and help the team out.”
This is Brown’s third call-up of the season; both were short-lived and necessitated by injury. He got his firsts out of the way earlier, saying it helped to get his first major league hit in Milwaukee in late July.
Brown said he thinks he deserves this call-up more than a year ago, given his production. In 2011, he was feeling the pressure of being involved in the Nats’ trade of outfielder Josh Willingham for reliever Henry Rodriguez.
“This year I just tried to come in with a clear mind and just be able to kind of put last year behind me, I guess you could say. It turned out to be probably my best season of my professional career,” he said. “I’m just trying to build from that and not feel like I have to start over because I’m back up here. Kind of just build off that and hopefully I can still have my calm nerves being up here. And that’s obviously the tough part is being able to relax when you’re playing in front of this many fans.”
Being in the middle of a pennant race and potentially getting put in pressure situations is a challenge for Brown, but it’s one he relishes. He will find out how he responds “if I get in a game” but has chatted with the likes of Werth, Harper, Moore, Mark DeRosa, Adam LaRoche and Steve Lombardozzi about how to deal with it.
“And you just got to go out there and play like you are back in the minors,” Brown said. “No matter if there’s 1,000 fans in Syracuse or 50,000 here. I think once I’m able to do that it’ll definitely be a lot easier.”