BRADENTON, Fla. – Brandon Phillips’ left hand and wrist already bore the scars of multiple surgeries, so when the Braves second baseman got hit high on his left hand near the wrist by a first-inning fastball Tuesday, there was concern.
But after staying on the ground for a minute or more and being checked out by a Braves trainer and manager Brian Snitker, Phillips insisted on staying in the game.
“He was like, I ain’t coming all the way down here and not play,” Snitker said, smiling. “He is tough. He’s a gamer. I was like, you want another at-bat if you get it? He was like, ‘Hell, yeah.’ He likes to play. He shows you all the time what he can do. He’s a good player.”
Phillips played his scheduled 5 ½ innings and went 1-for-2 at the plate with a run-scoring groundout in the third inning and an opposite-field single in the fifth. Afterward, he showed the spot where the ball hit him, which somehow had little if any swelling and looked better than some nearby skin scarred from previous surgeries.
“If I think I can play, I’m going to try to play and get some ABs, get ready for the season,” said Phillips, 35. “That’s what spring training is all about. Regardless, I’m going to get my ABs. If I have to go to a minor league game or if I just need to see the ball, hit the ball, see what I can and can’t do. Try to prepare myself for the season. That’s why I stayed in the game and tried to get as many ABs as possible.”
When he got hit, the sound could be heard from the pressbox and the ball caromed high off his hand.
“It hit me on the bone; I had surgery on it before,” he said. “All my injuries have been on my left hand. Broken finger, thumb, right here (points to inside of his hand, injured last season). My left hand doesn’t like me.”
Phillips is 3-for-13 with a double, four RBIs, two walks and two hit-by-pitches in seven Grapefruit League games, and he’s impressed teammates and coaches alike with his work habits and hustle in games and practice sessions.
“I love watching him play,” one high-ranking Braves official said Wednesday.