WASHINGTON – Brandon Phillips will be 36 in two weeks, but the second baseman is playing like a man not ready to hang up his cleats anytime soon. The question is, will his first season with the Braves be a full season in Atlanta for “datdude” from Stone Mountain?
The four-time former Gold Glove winner is in the final year of his contract, the Braves are paying only $1 million of a $14 million salary – the Reds are paying the rest – and there could be interest in Phillips and other Braves veterans as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches.
“It would be nice to stay here for the whole year,” Phillips said, “but there’s always thoughts in my mind – and everybody’s mind – if the team is not doing what it’s supposed to do, winning or whatever, that there’s a possibility that they might start trading guys here and there. Those things have popped up in many people’s heads, not just mind but other players also. Because you never know what can happen in this game.
“All you can do is just do what you can do on the field, just worry about what you can control, and hopefully your dream comes true. Just playing for the Braves is a dream come true. Playing here for the whole year would be a dream come true, coming back here would be another dream come true. But like I said, the only thing I can really do is just go out here and play this game, try to help the team win. And hopefully just all my dreams can come true.”
Phillips hit .288 with a .333 on-base percentage, four homers, seven stolen bases and a .742 OPS in 56 games before Tuesday, which would be his highest OBP since a Silver Slugger season in 2011 and his highest OPS since he finished 13th in the National League MVP balloting in 2012.
In his past 25 games through Monday he hit .309 (29-for-94) with eight doubles, two homers, a .363 OBP and .473 slugging (.820 OPS).
“Only thing I’m doing is just being myself,” he said. “Like I said before, if I stay healthy then I know I can be one of the best players in this game. As long as I just stay within myself, not try to do too much, I can put up the numbers. Right now I’m happy with what I’m doing but there’s always room for improvement. I’ve had some little nagging injuries here and there, but the thing is, I was smart to try to play through it a certain type of way.
“I always believe in myself. I always know that if I get put to the test, I’m going to go out there and show people wrong. I’m just playing for my family, playing for the name on the front of my jersey and just having a good time, enjoying the dream while I’m still enjoying it. I haven’t woke up yet, so I still feel like I can play this game and still have a long way to go. I’m going to go out there and do what’s best for the team and also try to do good for myself, also.”
When a reporter mentioned that he looked like he was playing like someone who still had multiple productive seasons left in him, Phillips smiled.
“I appreciate you saying that about me,” he said. “I can’t really see what I’m doing; I just know what I’m doing. But it’s nice to see guys like yourself and other people come up to me and say I still have a lot more years in me. Like I said, man, if I stay healthy, I’m going to prove a lot of people wrong.”
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