It took more than two months for Brandon Phillips to get the call.
He enjoyed every second of it.
Phillips, a three-time All-Star, signed a minor league contract with the Boston Red Sox at the end of June but didn’t receive a major league call-up until Tuesday, three days after MLB rosters expanded. The 37-year-old appeared in six games with Single-A Lowell and 38 games with Triple-A Pawtucket, and chose to embrace the experience despite a résumé suggesting he belonged in The Show.
“It’s a blessing in disguise,” Phillips told reporters Tuesday, looking back on his time in the Red Sox’s farm system. “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.”
Two things kept Phillips going during his Triple-A stint: His love for baseball and his desire to finally win a World Series after already spending parts of 16 seasons in the majors.
Phillips also fed off the youthful exuberance of playing alongside prospects in their 20s, well aware each member of the PawSox was vying for the same opportunity regardless of past accolades.
“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,” Phillips said. “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, a four-time Gold Glove Award winner, hit .302 with four home runs, 19 RBIs and an .824 OPS in 161 plate appearances with Pawtucket. He might not have a starting role with Boston down the stretch, but he still seems to have something left in the tank, including an undeniable hunger to keep playing.
“I really learned a lot about myself,” Phillips said, “and that right there just shows me that I love playing this game.”
The wait is over. Phillips is back in the majors with a spot on MLB’s best team. And he could be better off because of his 2018 journey in the minors, justifying the veteran infielder’s decision to bypass two contract opt-outs in the process.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images