CHERRY HILL, N.J. -- Perhaps no player better encapsulates the Phillies' improbable 2022 National League pennant run than Alec Bohm.
Like the team, Bohm arrived in Clearwater, Fla., last spring full of potential -- but not without some question marks. Not only had he taken a step back offensively in 2021 after a remarkable, albeit brief, showing as a rookie in '20, but Bohm had also struggled defensively, recording -21 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) in 159 career games.
Those reasons, combined with an impressive spring from top prospect Bryson Stott, kept Bohm out of the club's Opening Day starting lineup. Things didn't get any better when, just four games into the season, Bohm uttered his now-infamous phrase -- “I [expletive] hate this place" -- on national TV in the midst of a three-error game.
"Looking back, the thing I realized is last year felt like almost two years, where the beginning of the season didn't even feel like it was last season," Bohm said on Monday at the annual Philadelphia Sports Writers Association banquet, where the Phillies were honored as the "Team of the Year" and long-time PA announcer Dan Baker was given the PSWA Lifetime Achievement Award. "Things are going to go up and down with this game, I've seen that over the course of my three years here. Just staying the course and knowing things are going to end up being OK, that's the biggest thing I've learned. Just kind of staying out of my own way and playing the game."
There will be no third-base competition this spring.
The 26-year-old Bohm will report to Spring Training in three weeks with a secure role alongside newcomer Trea Turner on the left side of the infield -- and the Phillies are confident that will bode well for Bohm.
"I think it's huge for him. I really do," manager Rob Thomson said of Bohm entering 2023 with more job security. "He made so many strides, not only physically but mentally and emotionally over the course of the year. I've never seen a guy grow in one year as much as Alec did, especially at the big league level."
Bohm has grown a bit more -- literally -- since the season ended.
The third overall pick the 2018 MLB Draft has put on some extra muscle this offseason, though Bohm said that's more the result of taking care of his body than simply trying to bulk up.
"There's all different shapes and sizes in the league, you guys see that," Bohm said. "For me, I just want to be available every day. So this is kind of the route I've seen that leads to that."
Despite the up-and-down start to last season, Bohm ultimately provided some consistency to a lineup that dealt with a plethora of injuries down the stretch. After starting just two of the first 10 games, Bohm started 130 of the final 152 games at third base. He was one of just three Phillies to appear in at least 150 games, along with Rhys Hoskins (156) and Kyle Schwarber (155).
"I feel better," Bohm said. "Feel strong, feel good, but I'm just looking to be available every day."
When Bohm walks into the club's Spring Training complex next month, he'll already know the plan. Unlike last year, there won't be trade rumors swirling around Bohm and there won't be players rotating between second base, third base and shortstop to try to find the best configuration for Opening Day.
Bohm will be at third base. Turner will be at shortstop. Stott will be at second base. And Hoskins will round out what the Phillies believe can be one of the best infields in baseball -- not to mention, one of the deepest lineups.
Along with the potential of the infield, toss in J.T. Realmuto behind the plate and -- even without Bryce Harper for a chunk of the season -- Schwarber and Nick Castellanos in the corner-outfield spots.
"I think we kind of know the road now, right? There's a certain way that you kind of get to the end, and I think we saw that," Bohm said. "If things don't go well at the beginning of the season, you're not going to see much panic, because we've been there before. There's that comfort in knowing how it's done, so there's just a lot of excitement around all the guys."
And even though the Phillies' offseason began a month later than many expected, it's already been plenty long enough for Bohm’s liking.
"I think everybody's getting pretty bored," he said. "So we're ready to get down to Florida and get going."