Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?
Andy Phillips played a couple of innings at first base yesterday against the Yankees. He played three innings at 2B today against the Reds. He got on base for the first time in three weeks, working a clutch walk in the bottom of the 9th. The Pirates ended up with a come from behind win on Jason Jaramillo's walkoff single.
The Bucs' GM still says Andy has little chance of making the roster, due to his three week absence.
Doug Mientkiewicz accepted a Dodgers non-roster invite last month. At 34, he knows retirement is near, but I guess he's not quite ready to call it a career. He's played so hard in spring training that he's seriously contending for a roster spot.
He's hitting well, and has added to his versatility by learning to play 3B and corner outfielder since his time with the Yankees. But Torre mentions his "clubhouse presence" as his most appealing quality. That was reportedly what impressed the Pirates last year. He was seen as a long shot to make their roster last year, but he made it, in part because of the way he mentored the younger players.
I've always liked Minky, and I'm glad he's getting a chance to play for a contender.
I guess the injection helped. Andy Phillips is playing in minor league games now.
Phillips played in a minor-league game yesterday. "I got five at-bats, hit and ran the bases," Phillips said. "Everything went real good." It was Phillips' first game action since March 7. Phillips is slated to play in another minor-league game today and has been cleared to play defense.
Labels: Andy Phillips
I didn't spend all my time in Florida at baseball games. I went to the Marie Selby botanical gardens, where I saw an osprey building a nest. I went to Myakka State Park, where I saw alligators and birds like the great blue heron.
But the most fun I had outside the ballpark was hunting fossil shark teeth at Venice Beach. For millions of years, sharks have prowled the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico; now their fossilized teeth wash ashore at Venice Beach.
The first time I went, I didn't find any teeth. I didn't know what to look for. I should have Googled it. I Googled the directions to get there, but not how to find the teeth or what they looked like. (I thought they would be white, like teeth normally are, but the fossilized teeth are mostly darker - shiny black.)
I returned to try again the day before I left Florida. I didn't want to leave without a shark's tooth. I went really early. Partly because there was a game at 1pm I planned to attend, partly because I'd heard that you have to get there early in the day to find good teeth. I'd also heard that it's best to search near the rocky spits that stick out into the water periodically.
The tide was high when I got there, and it wasn't possible to search around the rock jetties without going swimming. It was just after dawn, and too cold for swimming. So I walked along the shore, looking at sea wrack that had washed up over night. As I was doing this, an older gentlemen stopped me, and handed me something. It was a small, black shark's tooth. He said you only find small ones these day, then walked off, leaving me with the tooth.
Maybe that was good luck, or maybe I just needed to see one to know what they looked like, but after that, I started to find teeth. A lot of people bring wire baskets they use to scoop up shells and pebbles from underwater. Others sit on the beach and sift through the detritus washed ashore. But I found my teeth by standing on the beach with the waves washing around my ankles (especially near places where rocks were sticking out of the sand). The waves leave the teeth behind as they retreat, and you have to grab them quickly before the next wave comes in. Look for shiny, black triangular things.
The ones I found were pretty small - so small I think they'd fall right through those baskets people use.
It was a lot of fun, and very addictive. If I weren't leaving the next day, I'd probably have gone back again. I found these teeth in about an hour's time (penny included for size comparison):
I was pretty pleased with my haul, but the locals complained that you don't find many teeth any more, and the ones you do find are small. They said the reason was the beach restoration projects. They've buried the fossils under 20 feet of sand.
I was actually at Caspersen Beach, which supposedly hadn't had any restoration, but people were still complaining that you don't find many teeth any more, and no big ones. Nobody was finding hundreds, that's for sure.
Still, it's a lot of fun, and something I imagine most kids would love. They may not find enough to fill up several baggies, but they'll find a few.
The It is high... Yankees blog published a post that hopelessly confuses Bubba Crosby and Bubba Trammell. They did eventually admit they meant Bubba Crosby, not Bubba Trammell. Except they left in the part about him quitting the Yankees due to clinical depression. Which was Trammell, not Crosby. Oy. I guess it's not as bad as a rumor you've been impersonating Carl Pavano to make time with a porn star, but jeez.
They are now running a poll asking "Who is the greatest Yankee Bubba of all time?"
Sigh. Bubba Crosby's name lives on among Yankee fans...as a shorthand for saying "Cashman's lying when he says he's using the players he has." Not exactly how I wanted him to be remembered.
UPDATE: Bubba Crosby won the poll.
Labels: Bubba Crosby
MLB.com has posted an update on Andy Phillips and it sounds like he's officially lost his chance at a roster spot.
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pirates general manager Neal Huntington all but confirmed on Sunday that utilityman Andy Phillips will not be healthy enough in time to earn one of the team's two remaining bench roles out of Spring Training.
Phillips, who has not played in a game since March 7 because of lower back stiffness, will have an injection in his back on Monday. The injection will shut him down from all exercise and activity for two to three days.
That recovery would then have to be followed by a progression back on to the field, which would include playing in some Minor League games. As a result, the best-case scenario for Phillips would have him not returning to Grapefruit League action until the final week of camp.
While Phillips, who seemed poised to steal the final bench spot before the back injury surfaced, may very well be fully healthy by Opening Day, he won't have enough opportunities to prove that he is the Pirates' best infield/outfield back-up option. The Pirates were anxious to see how Phillips fared at second and in the outfield, two positions where he doesn't have substantial Major League playing experience, before making any decisions.
"He's frustrated. He wants to play," Huntington said. "He swung the bat very well early in camp and was just starting to bounce around [defensively] when the back flared up on him. It doesn't mean he's done for the year, but it means that on April 5, he's on the outside looking in."
I did see Andy Phillips briefly today. He was in the dugout at the beginning of the game, for the national anthem. Then he left. (I imagine sitting on the bench in the dugout, or worse, on a Gatorade cooler, would be pretty hard on the back.)
Labels: Andy Phillips
I showed up early at yesterday's game, but neither team was warming up on the field. They must have been using one of the practice fields. (Sometimes they warm up on the main field, sometimes they don't.)
In any case, it sounds like Andy Phillips didn't take BP after all. Swinging a bat caused back pain, and they sent him for a MRI, which revealed bulging disks. He'll have to rest until his back heals.
That probably means he'll lose his shot at a roster spot. Before the injury, he was seen as almost a lock to make the roster, but now that he's out indefinitely, the Pirates will likely have to choose someone else for the utility infielder spot.
What a bummer. Poor Andy has the worst luck.
I will be at today's Pirates game, too, but don't expect to see Andy there - not even sitting in the dugout. He wasn't at yesterday's game.
Labels: Andy Phillips
Andy Phillips has been on the shelf since March 7, due to lower back stiffness. However, he will be allowed to take batting practice before the game today. Not sure if that means he will play today. I hope so; I'll be at the game. If not, maybe he'll play tomorrow. I hope to be at that game, too.
Yes, I'm on vacation in Florida. Still haven't been to any Yankee games, and I'm not sure I will go to any. Yankees spring training games are an awful lot like regular season games as far as traffic, prices, security, etc. The whole point of spring training is that it's laid back, with lots of access to the players.
Here are a few photos I've taken at the games I've been to so far.
Labels: Andy Phillips
Andy Phillips' stiff back is still keeping him from playing. Nevertheless, the Pirates have signalled that he's a frontrunner for the last roster spot on the team.
Pirates spring training: Phillips has edge on Cruz
Duel for Pirates' super-utility role favors former Yankees bench man
BRADENTON, Fla. -- One has rubbed elbows with Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and the rest of the New York Yankees for years.
The other was blown away to be playing meaningless September ball with the Pirates.
Andy Phillips, the 32-year-old veteran, and Luis Cruz, the 24-year-old bouncing baby of the clubhouse, are the two players vying for one job as the Pirates' utilityman, predominantly for the infield but with the capability of some corner outfield if needed. They are different as can be.
"I was there once, where Luis is," Phillips said.
Rewind a decade, as Phillips was rising through the Yankees' system, topping .300 at nearly every level before getting his chance with five games in 2004.
As with so many youngsters in New York, breaking into a lineup where eight-figure salaries are the norm was not easy. Five at-bats the first year, 40 the next and, finally, a healthy 246 and 185 the next two, in which he batted .240 and .292.
"Opportunity is always an issue with the Yankees," Phillips said. "Just look at who's on the field."
It might be easy, then, to blame Phillips' backward-step 2008 -- a combined .231 in 56 games split between the Cincinnati Reds and New York Mets -- on having been stunted at a key point in his career. But Phillips points instead to a self-inflicted wound.
"My hands kept going higher in my batting stance, and I had no idea."
Not until Don Long, the Pirates' hitting coach, showed Phillips on video this offseason. This spring, coincidence or not, he is batting .467 with a team-high seven RBIs, a tear that includes six hits in the eight at-bats before his back stiffened a few days ago. He could return this weekend.
"It's made so much difference," Phillips said. "And it's just part of why I've really enjoyed being in this camp. The way they've run things here, the efficiency, the instruction, is as good as any I've seen. On top of that, I really think you can see some of the pieces in place toward winning."
Phillips, in all likelihood, will be one of those pieces, even though he is in camp on a minor league contract with no spring escape clause. For one, management has shown a tendency toward using veterans on the bench. For another, he has shown he can play an efficient if unspectacular first base, second base and third, and he was about to play right field before the back flared.
Cruz's lone advantages are that he already is on the 40-man roster and that he can play all of Phillips' positions, plus the two most vital in shortstop and center field.
He also impressed management with his swift ascent to Pittsburgh last summer, going from Class AA Altoona to Class AAA Indianapolis in late July, then batting .325 with the Indians to earn a 22-game September recall with the Pirates and bat .224.
"It was the one of the best times of my life, my dream come true," Cruz said with the customary wide smile. "All those players I got to see on TV ... I'm out there playing against Manny Ramirez!"
That exuberance often comes with youth, and inexperience could be a reason why Cruz gets optioned back to Indianapolis. In addition to having made just a cameo stop at the Class AAA level, he still needs refinement at certain positions, notably first base.
"I don't know about my chance," Cruz said. "We have guys here who have more experience, like Andy. But I think I'm doing a good job so far. And I'm very, very happy to be here."
This spring, Cruz is batting .176 with an RBI.
Labels: Andy Phillips
Andy Phillips hasn't played since Saturday. He had been playing every day up until then. I could see giving him one day off to rest, but it's been five days now. I figured he must be injured, and sure enough...it's his back:
Phillips is sidelined with stiffness in his lower back and will be out at least for another day. Unexplicably, the stiffness started on Saturday and is still bothering Phillips a bit, he said. The Pirates will want Phillips to be able to take part in an entire morning workout before letting him return to the field for a game.
Labels: Andy Phillips
Pirates beat reporter Dejan Kovacevic thinks Andy Phillips is almost guaranteed a roster spot:
Andy Phillips, almost a lock to be a reserve infielder, credited his current 6-for-8 tear to hitting coach Don Long, who advised him to lower his hands during his stance.
"I was taking them higher and higher all of last year and didn't even realize it," Phillips said.
Labels: Andy Phillips
Someone is selling two Bubba Crosby game-used bats on eBay. Uncracked, and the starting bid for the pair was only 99 cents (though it's up to $26 now). If I were the collecting type, I would definitely be tempted. Heck, I'm tempted anyway, but I have so much junk already. My priority should be clearing out stuff, so I can, you know, walk, rather than buy more.
Andy Phillips got the day off today, so his hitting streak neither ended nor continued.
Andy Phillips got his first start of the season today. He started at 2B, batting 7th, and was moved to 1B later in the game. His hot streak continues; he was 2 for 4, with a 2-RBI double.
It ended up being a massacre, Pirates 10, Minnesota 1.
MLB.com had a good article about Andy the other day:
Phillips hoping journey ends with Bucs
After being shuffled around infield, utilityman looking for home
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Andy Phillips knows that he is not alone in his pursuit for one of the Pirates' final two bench spots. But the 32-year-old would like to believe that he has some intangibles that make him an appealing choice for a utility role.
Standing out on Phillips' resume would have to be his versatility, one of the factors behind the Pirates initiating contact with him the day he became a free agent. Phillips can play across the infield, and he has felt "surprisingly comfortable," to use his words, in his career outfield appearances as well.
However, Phillips hopes his statistics don't have to tell the whole story.
"I hope it's the versatility that impresses, but I hope it's other factors," Phillips said. "I hope it's how I approach the game. I hope there is some background. I've come from a place where the expectation is to win and to win everything. I've been fortunate to learn from some of the best in the game [while] playing with some of those guys."
After being drafted by the Yankees in the seventh round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft, Phillips spent the next eight seasons in the organization under those expectations to win. That's also when his journey around the infield began.
Though he was drafted as a shortstop out of the University of Alabama, Phillips' body size and makeup left him more suited to be a third baseman -- where he was first placed. Phillips also played a lot at second base, giving the Yankees some options.
But then New York signed Alex Rodriguez. Obviously, a future as a Yankees third baseman was out of the question for Phillips. And soon after, Robinson Cano established himself as the team's big league second baseman.
From there, first base became the position of choice for Phillips, who saw a platoon situation with the left-handed-hitting Jason Giambi as his best opportunity to establish himself in the Majors.
As it turns out, Phillips did get most of his opportunities at first after breaking into the big leagues in 2004. He spent the entire '06 season in the Majors, but he hit just .240 with seven homers and 29 RBIs in 246 at-bats.
After that, Phillips found himself once again shuttled back and forth between Triple-A and the Majors in 2007 and '08. His '08 season was split between the Reds and Mets' organizations, his first year outside of the Yankees' organization.
"It's no secret that when you're 30 years old and you've kind of bounced back and forth because of a lack of opportunity, then you just have to try and find places to fit," Phillips said. "There's no question that it makes it a little more difficult, but that's the reality of the situation. You just deal with it."
Phillips is hopeful he'll find that fit in Pittsburgh.
"All their conversations have been very consistent," Phillips said of his talks with the Pirates' management. "They asked that I come in and show them that I can do the little things, be a good teammate, that I can play all those positions aptly and to see that I can play the game the right way. And those are things that I know I'm capable of doing."
The Pirates are certainly intrigued by his past, most pointedly his extensive experience at a number of positions. In addition to his journey around the infield, Phillips has also taken to playing the outfield, too. That would give the Pirates even greater versatility should Phillips break camp with the team.
But again, Phillips believes his appeal can go beyond his versatility.
For one, the utilityman is confident his work with hitting coach Don Long has put some new life into his swing. Long encouraged Phillips not to choke up so much on the bat, something Phillips had begun doing last year without consciously noticing.
The adjustment of his hands has the veteran seeing pitches longer, and it has also eliminated some of the excess movement in his stance and swing.
"I felt like all year last year offensively I was fighting to find a consistent swing, which was new territory for me," Phillips said. "This year, within a couple of days of working with Donnie, we've really found some stuff that has me excited about the direction my swing is heading."
And then there is simply his willingness to do whatever, wherever. Phillips fully understands that to make this team, he would have to do so as a backup, and he's fine with that. Phillips also knows he'll continue to be shuffled around the diamond as needed. He's more than willing.
Phillips is just seeking another chance.
"Whatever they ask me to do, I'll be as prepared as I need to be," Phillips said. "If that's playing every day, if that's standing over there and being a good teammate, whatever it is. But I know that I can contribute on the field as well as in the clubhouse. I know that I can do that.
"I'm excited about the opportunity, and I know personally that there is a lot that I can bring to this team."
Labels: Andy Phillips
Andy Phillips is officially en fuego. He's hit every day for four days now, despite getting only late inning replacement playing time.
Today, he was 2 for 2 with a bases-clearing double. He's now batting .455. The Pirates still lost to the Rays, though.
The Yankees, meanwhile, are desperately seeking a third baseman. From what Pete Abe says, things have changed drastically over the past day or so. They went from "A-Rod will miss a few weeks" to "A-Rod will play through it." Now it sounds like A-Rod will have surgery on Monday, and hopefully be ready by the All-Star break. Or maybe miss the whole season. Either way, the Yankees will need a third baseman. That is probably the reason for the secrecy. Cashman doesn't want to seem too desperate. But, he is.
I wonder if they'd consider Andy. Probably not. The Yankees thought his glove wasn't good enough for 3B, outside of emergency situations.
He'll probably get more of an opportunity with the Pirates anyway. Last year, the Bucs let Doug Mientkiewicz play 3B and corner outfielder, as well as 1B.
Labels: Andy Phillips
Andy Phillips had another pretty good day at the office. He went 2 for 2 with one RBI and a run scored. After a slow start, he's hit every day for the past three days, pulling his averaage up to .333.
The Pirates fell to the Reds anyway, when prospect Darnell McDonald hit a 10th inning walkoff grand slam. What a rush it must have been for the kid, even if it was only spring training.
Andy also got a brief mention in this article from the Bradenton Herald:
Andy Phillips has been fighting for a spot his entire career. After debuting with the New York Yankees in 2004, the infielder has had stints with the New York Mets and Cincinnati Reds before signing with the Pirates Dec. 29.
He’s honed his spring-training, learning to balance the ability to play hard with the ability to play smart.
“You try to accelerate hitting a little bit, and even your defensive stuff, getting around, moving a little bit,” said Phillips, who turns 32 in April. “At the same time, you still can’t really do a whole lot different. You’re still trying to get yourself ready for a season.
“You don’t want to get out there and get crazy and get yourself hurt.”
The 10 Team USA players taking part in the Top Ten List are: Derek Jeter from the New York Yankees; David Wright from the New York Mets; Chipper Jones from the Atlanta Braves; Ryan Braun from the Milwaukee Brewers; Jimmy Rollins from the Philadelphia Phillies; Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis from the Boston Red Sox; Curtis Granderson from the Detroit Tigers; Roy Oswalt from the Houston Astros; and Adam Dunn from the Washington Nationals.
The Pirates were victorious over the Netherlands in an exhibition game yesterday, thanks in part to Andy Phillips' RBI double...off Sydney Ponson.
There's a nice article about Andy in the Johnstown Tribune Democrat (Pennsylvania):
Phillips hoping to land utility job with Pirates
by John Perrotto
BRADENTON, Fla. — Andy Phillips had just become a minor-league free agent last November when his cell phone rang.
On the line was Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington expressing a strong interest in bringing Phillips to spring training with the opportunity to win a utility job on the major-league club’s bench.
“I was really impressed by how much the Pirates wanted me,” Phillips said. “I could tell they really wanted me. When you’re a guy in my situation, it’s important to know you’re wanted.”
Phillips’ situation is he is a 32-year-old trying to stick in the major leagues 10 years after the New York Yankees selected him in the seventh round of the first-year player draft from the University of Alabama. Phillips has spent at least parts of the last five seasons in the major leagues but only one full year, in 2006 with the Yankees.
However, the Pirates are looking for a right-handed hitter for their bench and Phillips rates a decent chance of making the club. The fact he can play both corner infield and outfield positions along with second base gives him the versatility National League managers love.
“The key for us is if he can play second base because he would give us a third option at second behind Freddy Sanchez and Ramon Vazquez,” Huntington said. “You don’t see many players like Andy, who play the corner spots and plays second base. If he shows he can handle second, it would help his chances of making the club a lot.”
Phillips has made just eight appearances at second base, including only one start, in his 259-game career with the Yankees (2006-07), Cincinnati Reds (2008) and New York Mets (2008). He has seen the most action at first base with 107 starts while also starting eight games at third base and one in left field.
“I pride myself in playing wherever my team needs me,” Phillips said. “I understand my role on a club is going to be to come off the bench and the more I can do then the better my chances are of sticking in the major leagues.”
While Phillips can be called a journeyman at this stage of his career, he does have an interesting resume that includes:
● Helping lead Alabama to three College World Series appearances during his four seasons with the Crimson Tide, in 1996, 1997 and 1999, and setting the Southeastern Conference record for longest hitting streak with a 36-gamer in ’99.
● Leading all Yankees’ minor-leaguers with 28 home runs between Class AA Norwich and Class AAA Columbus in 2002.
● Winning the Kevin Lowe Award in 2004, which goes to the top position player in the Yankees’ farm system, after hitting a combined .321 with 30 home runs and 101 RBIs with Class AA Trenton and Columbus.
● Becoming the third player in Yankees history to homer in his first at bat, joining Johnny Miller and Marcus Thames, as he connected off the Boston Red Sox’s Terry Adams on Sept. 26, 2004.
Yet, Phillips has only 557 major-league at bats, hitting .250 with 14 homers and 70 RBIs. Many players with Phillips’ college and minor-league pedigree might complain about not getting a chance to play regularly in the majors but he doesn’t.
“I’m a positive person, I’ve always been that way,” Phillips said. “I truly believe you can only control what you can control and it’s wasted energy if you worry about that kind of stuff.”
That is why Phillips walks through the Pirates’ clubhouse with a smile on his face every day despite not being guaranteed a spot on the club.
“I’m just going out and doing the best I can every day,” said Phillips, who hit an RBI double Tuesday in a 5-4 win over The Netherland in an exhibition game at McKechnie Field. “You can’t do anything more than that. Hopefully, when it comes time to decide the roster at the end of spring training, my best will have been good enough.”
Labels: Andy Phillips
The season hasn't even started, and I'm already tired of A-Rod. He said he'd rather have Jose Reyes on the Yankees...presumably in place of Derek Jeter. Then had the Yankees release a statement saying it wasn't meant as a shot at Jeter. Huh, boy. The man has a tendency to insert his foot in his mouth, then kick his own brains out.
Luckily (?), Reyesgate is likely to be forgotten, since shortly afterwards, it was revealed that A-Rod has a cyst in his hip. Of course, fans are already speculating that it's steroid-related - the injection site.
In other news...Brett Gardner had a great day against Team USA, going three for three with a double. He's got a better glove than Melky Cabrera, and has been hitting better, too. I think he's earning himself the CF job. He may only be keeping it warm for Austin Jackson, but he deserves a shot.
And it's back to NY for Ron Villone. But not with the Yankees. He signed a minor league deal with the Mets.
Andy Phillips faced his former team today, as the Reds played the Pirates. He was not in the starting lineup, but was subbed in at 1B in the sixth inning. He ended up winning the game for the Pirates. His RBI single was the go-ahead and winning run. (It was also his first hit of the season.)
Final score: Pittsburgh 2, Cincinnati 1.
And speaking of the Reds, the pride of Rice University, Paul Janish, is having a pretty good spring training so far. He's leading the team in batting average and OBP. He hit a double today, and got to 3B on a wild pitch. Unfortunately, he tried to score on a fly out that wasn't hit deep enough, and was thrown out at home.
Labels: Andy Phillips