Phillips finds opportunity with Rockies
Journeyman catcher hopes to make impression after callup
DENVER -- A roster spot with the Rockies wasn't available to catcher Paul Phillips at the start of the season. So he had to find his rewards in other ways while at Triple-A Colorado Springs. The words of young pitchers let him know he was doing a good job.
"That's one of the greatest rewards, when you have a pitcher ask you why you want them to do something," Phillips said. "You can see they're trying to learn, instead of just hanging on your coattail. It's nice when you have guys willing to do that, because they want to get better. That is the greatest thing ever."
Well, close to it. It's topped by a big league callup, which Phillips received Sunday. He made his first start for the Rockies against the Dodgers on Wednesday afternoon.
Phillips has played for the Royals (2004-07) and White Sox (2008). He hit .255 in 62 big league games and spent most of those seasons at the Triple-A level.
Phillips, 32, has joined the legion of knowledgeable catcher types who don't quite have big league footing and are looking for an opportunity. Many of these catchers receive a big chance. Phillips has not yet. He was called up because Chris Iannetta suffered a right hamstring strain on Saturday and was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
"It gets harder each year, but yet the benefits that you receive once you get the phone call make it worth the wait," Phillips said. "Going into the season, you know it, so you stay ready in case something happens. It is a grueling position to where something could happen."
Rockies manager Clint Hurdle has liked Phillips' preparation.
"He's been crunching tape and looking at swings for the past three days since he showed up," Hurdle said. "He was in a very good place when he left [Colorado Springs] swinging the bat, so I don't want to freeze him for six or seven days. We'll get him involved and go from there."
Phillips said watching the Dodgers for two days, as Yorvit Torrealba caught, was good for him. Now, it's a matter of meshing what he's learned with Wednesday starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez's style.
"You have your plan to get a guy out, based on what you see, and when you get execution and the plan comes together, there's nothing better than that," Phillips said.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.