Phillips to live dream in World Baseball Classic
Batboy at 1996 Olympic Games excited to suit up for United States
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Back in 1996, when he was still a kid living in Georgia, Brandon Phillips lived one of the more unique baseball experiences by serving as a batboy during the Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Phillips worked for both the American and Japanese clubs.
"It was amazing and priceless," Phillips said. "They picked some of the best guys in that area. They picked 12 players from Atlanta. I was one of the 12 -- me and my best friend."
Included on the '96 Team USA squad were future Major Leaguers R.A. Dickey, Troy Glaus, Jacque Jones, Mark Kotsay and Kris Benson.
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The experience was a motivating factor behind Phillips' decision to play when invited by the United States club participating in the World Baseball Classic
"It was amazing," Phillips said. "I said 'I'd like to do this one day.' Look at me now -- I get to do the same thing by playing on the WBC team. It was a dream come true when [Team USA manager] Joe Torre called and asked me to do it. I'm really looking forward to it."
National pride wasn't everything, though. The invitation became sweeter because the 31-year-old Phillips is coming off of a year in which he received two significant personal snubs. He was left off of the National League All-Star team and was not voted as the NL Gold Glove Award winner at second base.
The Cubs' Darwin Barney, who had a 141-game errorless streak last season, beat out Phillips for the Gold Glove. There was a belief that some managers and coaches who voted have long been rubbed the wrong way by Phillips' flashy style and brashness on the field. That doesn't surprise manager Dusty Baker at all.
"I'm sure he does," Baker said. "But it shouldn't have anything to with like or dislike or personality when it comes to who is best at that position. It's kind of a natural thing -- people vote for who they like. I've talked to him about it and Joe Morgan has talked to him about it. After a while, you quit talking about it. You realize that it's him, but ask him to tone it down some."
Phillips, who is a two-time All-Star, a three-time Gold Glove winner and the owner of a 2011 Silver Slugger Award, has never played with a toned down mentality and likely never will. He maintains he holds no grudges about being passed over.
"They picked who they picked," Phillips said. "Do I feel I should have gotten both of those things? Of course. I feel like I'm one of the best second basemen in the game. I'm at least in the top three. I can't make people vote for me on the All-Star team. I can't make myself win the Gold Glove, even though I should have. When I didn't win, I was surprised. I wasn't mad at all, but surprised. I thought I got 'punk'd.'"
Defensively in 2012, Phillips had five errors and a .992 fielding percentage. Offensively, while batting first, third and fourth in the lineup, he batted .281 with 18 home runs and 77 RBIs in 147 games.
With the acquisition of Shin-Soo Choo, it's expected that Phillips will consistently bat second in 2013.
"If we started right now," Baker said. "That's way down the line. I've thought about different lineups."
Not getting recognized isn't motivating Phillips to do more on the field to prove anything to his naysayers.
"I don't have a chip on my shoulder," said Phillips, who signed a six-year, $72.5 million contract extension last April. "As long as I have one Silver Slugger and one Gold Glove. My goal was to win every award at least one time. I've got at least one All-Star Game, Silver Slugger and Gold Glove. Now I'm playing in the WBC."
Any other hardware needed for the resume?
"I need a World Series ring. MVP would be nice," Phillips said. "I can make that happen if I stay consistent. That could be on there too."