Brett Phillips opens up about bringing positivity and joy to baseball
We sat down with new Baltimore Orioles outfielder Brett Phillips to chat about his secret to staying positive and having fun while playing in the majors, what it's like pitching in blowouts, and the best moment of his career.
theScore: You're always smiling and having fun out there. What's the secret to enjoying baseball as much as you do?
Phillips: That's a great question. First of all, perspective. When I first started playing this game as a kid, I really enjoyed it. I had fun every single time I put on a uniform, whether it was the night before a game, the next day, or underneath my church clothes before we had to go to the field. I just loved playing baseball. I thought it was the most fun sport ever, and of course, I was good at it. ... And when I say perspective, things could be a lot different for myself. So, each and every day I show up to the ballpark. I just remember how grateful I am, how blessed I am regardless of my circumstances. It'll never be as worse as anything else that I could possibly be going through. I just always remember that and that's why you see me having so much fun and smiling all the time because it's just so much fun and it's as simple as that. I'm just so blessed.
Is there anything that does bother you when you're playing? What about in regular day-to-day life?
I'm competitive. I'm very competitive. I want to win each and every day. There's stuff that bothers me. A lot of it is out of my control. If guys don't play the game the right way or if they're not giving you 100%. That does bother me a little bit because I want to win and I'm a competitor. As for everyday life, I'm pretty much the same happy-go-lucky guy. I want the best from everyone. I want to constantly encourage and bring the best out of people because I just love life and I'm just so grateful.
What were your thoughts when you saw all the reaction from fans about your departure from the Rays?
I was overwhelmed with joy to see the amount of love I have received. I have all the appreciation in the world for those fans, and I'm thankful they felt the same.
Are you looking forward to getting some revenge on the Rays now that you're part of a division rival?
No matter what team I'm with, the main objective is to win, and it doesn’t matter who we are facing. But I'll definitely be looking forward to going back one last time this season to see all the fans and my old teammates.
How did you become the guy that pitches during blowouts?
Honestly, I wish I didn't pitch as much as I've had to but I'll do whatever I have to do to help this team out. It started last year in Buffalo, when we were getting blown out and the guys who aren't on contract usually pitch. That's just the reality of it. I was up on the list to pitch that day and I guess I did well enough to be the all-time position player pitcher for the Rays.
You're all business during a home run. How would you celebrate your first career strikeout?
Probably with a nasty fist pump all the way back to the dugout. Maybe a skip to the dugout while simultaneously fist pumping. I hope that it's someone who won't take offense but definitely have to celebrate that first strikeout like the first homer. Maybe a curtain call for my fans.
I remember you broke Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s bat during a game in Toronto. What was that like?
I was hoping to get that bat back and signed by a future Hall of Famer. Something like that could happen to anyone. With a wood bat and a ball it's just a matter of hitting it in the wrong spot. I will say that I got lucky there breaking his bat. That's something that I will definitely tell my kids.
You've had a few memorable moments in your career. What stands out for you and why?
That home run for Chloe was super special. That was like some divine intervention-type stuff if you really dive into it. God definitely had his hand on that one, just how everything unfolded. I've developed a friendship with Chloe and her family that will last a lifetime. Something like that puts my career in perspective and how I go about my business. You have a nine-year-old girl who's battling cancer for the second time in her life. The way she goes about her business, giving energy and smiling regardless of the circumstances in her life. She's joyful. For me, that's a God thing. I just always want to keep that perspective in my life. She's made a huge impact on me and going forward constantly praying for her and wishing the best.
What was it like saying goodbye to Chloe?
I just told Chloe that I'd see her again soon and that we would have a game of catch when I got back. She customized a really cool glove from Wilson, and I'm glad I could get it to her before I left.
What does it mean to have a platform to be able to provide moments like that?
It means a lot. Going back to your joy question, I've been blessed with this platform. I would be doing a disservice to God if I didn't want to bless others. I grew up 20 minutes from Tropicana Field as a child. What I remembered most about baseball and what made it fun going up to those games is if I could get an autograph or speak to a baseball player. Just a hello from a baseball player. Just keeping that same perspective and knowing that I have a platform to bring joy to other people's lives. I take the time, 10-15 minutes to sign before every game, because I remember as a kid that was really fun for me. It's remembering that as you get to the big-league level. Remembering what was fun for you as a kid and now that you've been given a platform, use it. Use it to make other people happy and it will actually bring so much joy to your life as well.
What would you do if you weren't playing professional baseball?
I think I would be in the broadcasting booth or coaching. This is now my 11th season in baseball. Gaining the experience and knowledge that I have over the past 10 years of my career, I feel it would be beneficial to younger players or talking about players. Hopefully when my career is all done I will have some opportunities to pursue as a broadcaster or a coach.
Can you tell us something about Brett Phillips that the world doesn't know?
Oh man, I'm an open book. Honestly, what you see is what you get. I always get people coming up to me and people that I know, teammates and stuff, people are asking them about me if I'm really like that in person or what you see on TV. It's a compliment to me that I've been able to stay the same. I'm the same guy. I'm a big nerd when it comes to video games and stuff like that.