If there is one moment to encapsulate this year’s Tampa Bay Rays season, it could very well be Brett Phillips‘ headfirst slide into home plate Monday night at the Trop, completing an inside-the-park-home run as part of the Rays’ trouncing of the Baltimore Orioles.
Brett Phillips turning his career around in Tampa
Phillips entered this season as a career .207 hitter, with 20 home runs over four seasons. But so what? The Rays were focused mainly on his defense when they acquired him from Kansas City in August 2020 for minor-league infielder Lucius Fox. But so what?
Phillips has now hit six home runs in his last 15 games, including three grand slams. Now, add to that an inside-the-park homer. The Rays never expected such power production from him. But so what?
The Rays certainly did not expect Phillips to become a World Series hero, but so what? He did, in Game 4 of the 2020 series with the Dodgers, when Phillips drove in Randy Arozarena from first on a lined single to right that was a major Los Angeles Dodgers defensive snafu.
Phillips’ way to celebrate that victory? He put his hands out to his sides and ran around the infield, gliding as an airplane while teammates chased him to mob him.
Brett Phillips makes baseball Fun
If a motto or mantra could be ascribed to Brett Phillips, it is the one he often says: “Baseball is fun.” For Phillips, it often is. Earlier this year, Orioles’ pitcher Jorge Lopez hit Phillips in the back with a pitch. The pair had previously played together in the Milwaukee Brewers’ system.
After being hit, Phillips acted as though he was going to charge at the mound and Lopez, who showed concern on his face. Phillips immediately started laughing at his “pretend” rushing of the mound and assured Lopez that all was O. K.
It was a “light” moment that went viral on social media, allowing Phillips to share with the world that “baseball is fun.”
Further proof of that came as Phillips circled the bases en route to his inside-the-park homer.
Phillips’ obvious excitement in talking about the homer is sincere and infectious. The former high-school standout and Tampa-area native is doing his best to ensure that “baseball is fun.”