Brown's approach keeps him humble
After taking hard road to Majors, OF used to competition
SURPRISE, Ari. -- Emil Brown was a non-roster long shot to make the club in 2005, but a .421 average with five home runs and 20 RBIs in 26 Spring Training games convinced the Royals to put him on their Opening Day roster.
Brown hit a career-high .287 last season and led the team with 241 total bases and 59 walks, and also topped the Royals in RBIs for the second straight year with 81. His 41 doubles were the most by a Royals player since Carlos Beltran collected 44 in 2002. His 10 sacrifice flies were one shy of the American League lead. His .395 average in Interleague Play over the past two years is the highest in the Majors among players with more than 100 at-bats.
Brown is projected to open this season in left field, but despite his recent success, he said he does not feel secure in Spring Training.
"I like coming in with my thought process like I've always got to make the team," Brown said. "I like coming in like that. It keeps me working. There are still a lot of things I need to do, still a lot of things I'd like to accomplish."
Brown's mindset could be traced to the Royals being his eighth organization since the Athletics drafted him in 1994 out of Indian River (Fla.) Community College. He has also spent time with the Pirates, Padres, Devil Rays, Reds, Cardinals and Astros organizations. Before joining the Royals, Brown had a .200 average with eight home runs and 38 RBIs in 209 Major League games over five seasons. When he made the Royals in 2005, he played his first Major League game since 2001 with San Diego.
After two solid seasons with the Royals, Brown must feel like an established Major Leaguer player?
"Yes and no," Brown said. "Yes, because I've done OK. I've proved that I can play every day in the Major Leagues. No, because I don't have a multiyear deal yet. I don't feel I've established myself like I want to just yet. It is pretty good money. I'm not complaining about it."
Brown felt he "always had the talent" to play in the Majors, but it was a long and winding road to find the right team at the right time to give him an opportunity to showcase his abilities and play him every day.
"I've always had the tools," Brown said. "I've always been able to run well. I've always been able to throw well. I have some pop in my bat, but it was almost -- I don't want to call it a negative -- but 'You haven't done anything at the Major League level.' It was almost like a gift and a curse, I guess.
"It was a good reason to send somebody down, 'You just need to put all your tools together.' You could tell somebody that every year."
Brown is being used strictly in left field this Spring Training after playing 54 games in right, 87 games in left and 10 as the designated hitter last season. He started 126 games in right in 2005.
"If that is what they want, I'll stick to that," Brown said of left field. "I like just being in one position. I can get more familiar with it. It is a lot easier doing a lot of work at one position rather than switching back and forth."
After switching organizations for several years, Brown is happy to find a home in the Kansas City outfield.
Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.