ATLANTA -- Still seemingly unhappy about being forced to make a late-season transition, Brandon Phillips still isn't willing to discuss anything about his play at his new position. But during Saturday night's 11-8 loss to the Reds at SunTrust Park, the Braves' third baseman showed his former teammates he can
ATLANTA -- Still seemingly unhappy about being forced to make a late-season transition, Brandon Phillips still isn't willing to discuss anything about his play at his new position. But during Saturday night's 11-8 loss to the Reds at SunTrust Park, the Braves' third baseman showed his former teammates he can still be as impressive as he was during his days as their National League Gold Glove Award-winning second baseman.
"He just keeps doing it and keeps playing," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He's playing extremely well."
Phillips has chosen not to publicly comment on the Braves' decision to move him to third base on Aug. 1 to make room for highly regarded prospect Ozzie Albies, who has spent this month serving as Atlanta's starting second baseman. The four-time Gold Glove winner was not happy to learn of Albies' promotion before being asked to make a position switch.
But since becoming the Braves' third baseman on Aug. 2, Phillips has not allowed his defensive play to be adversely affected. He has cleanly fielded each of the 30 chances he's had at the hot corner and continued to show some of the flash he had during his days as one of the game's most exciting middle nfielders.
Phillips certainly grabbed some attention during Saturday's sixth inning, when he barehanded Eugenio Suarez's tough hopper behind third base and then made a strong throw to record the out. He caused some jaws to drop again in the eighth inning when he charged Billy Hamilton's slow grounder and quickly fired to first base to retire the center fielder, arguably the game's fastest baserunner.
When asked to comment after the game, Phillips made it clear he did not want to answer any questions about third base. The transition to a new position has proven he can be a versatile defender. This might enhance his value on the free-agent market this winter, or over the next couple of weeks, when teams could call the Braves looking to make a trade.
Phillips certainly didn't hurt his trade value Saturday when he homered in the third inning and added an infield single during the Braves' four-run, ninth-inning rally. The home run was the first he has hit against the Reds, who essentially dumped him in February when they agreed to pay all but $1 million of his $14 million salary and traded him to the Braves for two Minor League pitchers.
"They're just another team," Phillips said. "I just try to be a professional and play the game the best way I know how."
Phillips hit .247 with a .574 OPS over 20 games from July 17 to Aug. 11. But he has given some contending teams something to think about, hitting .333 with three homers and a .962 OPS over his past eight games.
"It's been working, but there's always room for improvement," Phillips said. "I'm having success lately. I went through a little stretch where I was hitting the ball hard and not getting hits. So, I've tried my best to stick with the same plan."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.