Courtesy photo/WHDH 7News

Brandon Phillips talks sticking around, wearing No. 0

Rob Bradford
September 04, 2018 - 9:22 pm

ATLANTA -- For eight minutes before the Red Sox' game with the Braves Tuesday night Brandon Phillips stood in front of his locker and answered questions regarding the 37-year-old's return to the major leagues.

It was a unique scene, with perhaps the most memorable answer coming on the very final question: Why did you choose No. 0?

"Number 4 is retired here, No. 7, one of my teammates has that," Phillips said. "I was going to pay him for it but then I was like 'Uh, they're playing good baseball, let me leave it alone.' And then I was going to have No. 44 because it was two 4's, and I was like 'Uh one of my teammates has that number, too.' So I said, 'they're playing good baseball so I'll leave that alone.' So I just asked myself what is the weirdest number you have up there? And he was like, 'Let me look,' and he said 'Zero,' and I said 'Get me that.' I'm happy with zero."

And when informed it was the first time in Red Sox' history a player had been assigned the No. 0, he added, "Hey, I'm glad I could do something like that but you know it would be nice to have some bling-bling on my finger too so, that's basically it."

It is why Phillips stuck around to get his call-up. Not for the chance to make numerical history, but for the opportunity to earn a World Series ring.

Phillips, who hit .302 with a .824 OPS with Triple-A Pawtucket, blew through a pair of opportunities to opt-out of his minor-league deal in order to get a chance at joining the Red Sox. Finally, the patience paid off.

"It’s a blessing in disguise," he said. "You have to trust the process. I was at the house working hard like it was spring training. It was just nice to see the Boston Red Sox give me an opportunity to see my dream keep on going. It feels good just to be here."

Phillips added, "I had a great time in Pawtucket. Those guys were doing the same thing I was doing, trying to get back to the major leagues or even get there for the first time and I was trying to show those guys how you can go about your business and achieve your goals. For myself, I have a good time playing the game in general, regardless of where I’m at. It can be a men’s league, I’m still going to go out there and have a good time. I’m a happy person and I just love playing this game. I’m still dreaming and I haven’t stopped yet. Just let me keep doing my thing and get a ring."

Phillips is slated to make his debut in the Red Sox' starting lineup Wednesday. It will be a role, according to Red Sox manager Alex Cora, that may be short on playing time but long on baseball wisdom.

"He can pinch-hit, he’s playing well. He can play second he can play third. He can lead off an inning, especially here in the National League. He can pinch-hit against a lefty," Cora said. "I talked to him today and said you’re here to contribute. He looks good physically. He’s a guy that, just like we talked earlier in spring training, there are not too many guys in there with rings. They’ve had great careers but there are not too many guys with rings. He wants one and he feels that we have a shot, like everyone else in that clubhouse. It’s cool to have him here."

It took a frustrating offseason, and two months in the minor leagues, but Phillips found his way back to a place he hadn't seen since last season -- a major league clubhouse.

"It showed me why I love playing this game and why I continued to stay where I was at and finish out a career," he said. "I really learned a lot about myself, and that right there just shows me that I love playing this game."