Phillips not back, Baker reflects
You can’t likely see it in the pic below, but Brandon Phillips was at second base taking groundballs during Reds batting practice in the latest test for his fractured right thumb. He was also slated to take full BP himself. He was unable to hit or take grounders at home on Wednesday because of rain. If it goes well, I say he’s back in there on Saturday after he’s had a week off.
“The swelling went down a lot since the off day. That’s a good thing,” Phillips said. “Talking to [head trainer] Mark Mann, he thinks the swelling will come back because I’m going to do a lot today. We’ll see how it feels today and go from there. I felt like I could play a long time ago. But I’m not going to do anything stupid.”
Phillips’ thumb remains in a wrap. Apparently, any future he had as a potential hand model are over.
“It looks ugly,” manager Dusty Baker said. “It’s turning colors. It’s been in the water so much.”
“It is ugly,” Phillips agreed. “I won’t kiss it myself.”
7:35 pm ET update: Phillips came through BP with no issues and even hit a couple over the fence. Standing by the cage, he didn’t appear to favor the thumb when he swung…and he was making good contact in general.
Phillips told Baker he could play tonight, if needed.
“Of course, I will feel it,” Phillips said. “It’s all about manning up. If you really want to play, you play through it. That’s how I look at it. Man up or go to the DL. I’m not going to do that because I feel I can play through it. I felt it a lot when I was throwing more than when I was hitting. The more swings I took, the more I started to feel it.”
“I can play through the pain. But I also don’t want to mess up the team.”
Here is Friday’s Reds lineup:
The Reds are likely to face right-handed starters in all seven games of this trip, which means it will be tough to get righty hitter Jonny Gomes starts in left field. The lefty-half of the LF platoon, Laynce Nix, didn’t play much last week because the Reds saw four lefties in six games.
“He’ll take extra BP and try to stay as sharp as he can,” Baker said of Gomes.
Baker was asked some questions about the surprise aspect of his team, and the quality of its depth. The Reds were 26-20 heading into the game tonight and right in the NL Central race with the first-place Cardinals and second-place Brewers and ahead of the favored Cubs.
“You don’t surprise people for very long,” Baker said. “You just go out and play ball. If you surprise some people, fine. If not, no problem. If they give you credit, fine. If they don’t, no problem. Just keep playing. We have more talent and ability than we’ve had here. More young talent, more exuberance, more excitement. Guys take losses harder. We have some good character to this ball club, which is one thing we wanted to do and change.
“The hard things is who do you keep and who do you delete. We’ve got guys here that get along together and like playing together. Guys that are highly competitive against the opposition and competitive against guys on their own team with no envy or jealousy.”
Baker also talked about having success in the long haul, which he wants to be a part of.
“You make decisions in life sometimes,” he reflected. “This is one of the decisions, to bring me here and me coming here, that’s been at the top of the list of my decisions of life. I’m very happy here. I plan on being here. … if they’ll have me for a while.”
I’ve seen a lot of comments, especially in my game stories, that want Baker fired. Yet, the Reds are currently winning and playing like they haven’t over most of my four seasons of covering the team. Why is there a disconnect between fan perception and the on-field performance? Why isn’t the winning making some fans happy?
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