Brandon Phillips returned to his longtime baseball home Friday, playing at the Great American Ballpark for the first time since the Cincinnati Reds traded him to the Atlanta Braves in February.
And while Phillips was clearly happy to be there, noting that he’s still loyal to the city and the fanbase, there was one thing clearly sticking in his craw.
As you’ll hear at the 2:00 mark in the video below, Phillips seemed genuinely irked that the Reds so quickly gave his No. 4 jersey to infielder Scooter Gennett. Phillips went as far as to call it “like a slap in my face,” which confirms he’s been thinking about it for some time.
— Derek Forrest (@DerekWLWT) June 2, 2017
While Phillips isn’t necessarily saying no other Reds player should wear his number, he sees their willingness to distribute it so quickly as a way of saying he’s been replaced and they’ve moved on.
That’s not always easy to accept. Especially for a player who in Phillips’ case spent 11 years of his career producing big numbers while helping the Reds to three postseason appearances.
With that in mind, it should be noted the Reds have done the same thing with other recently departed players who were a big part of their success.
For clarity's sake, Reds also have given away numbers of Jay Bruce, Aroldis Chapman, Todd Frazier, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake…
— Zach Buchanan (@ZachENQ) June 2, 2017
Point being, it’s not as if the Reds have singled Phillips out. But rather they see no reason to turn down another player’s request for a number that’s still available.
Beyond that, the Reds organized quite a welcome back for Phillips that showed its collective appreciation for Phillips. That included a highlight video that aired on the videoboard in the middle of the first inning.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) June 2, 2017
Reds fans were also very welcoming, greeting Phillips with a lengthy standing ovation before his first at-bat.
Despite those kind gestures, the Reds would spoil Phillips’ return with a 3-2 win on Devin Mesoraco’s pinch-hit walk-off home run in the 10th inning.
Phillips himself would finish 0-for-5 with two strikeouts, which certainly didn’t help his overall mood. Still, any bitterness Phillips might have felt coming appeared small in comparison to the love and respect that was given and received, and we’ll sure it will go down as a fond memory for both sides.
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