All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Pirates vs. the Netherlands

The Pirates were victorious over the Netherlands in an exhibition game yesterday, thanks in part to Andy Phillips' RBI 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.”


posted by BubbaFan, 6:23 AM


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