He may hitting just .145 in 76 games this year, but new Orioles outfielder Brett Phillips has good numbers in his career batting at Camden Yards. And tonight he’ll take the field for his first start as an Oriole. And it probably won’t surprise you to know that the ultra-enthusiastic Phillips could not be much more excited.
“Coming into a clubhouse that has a lot of energy as it is, I’m a guy who brings the energy and feeds off of energy. Just being here the other day for the first time I’ve recognized that we’ve got a group that is hungry here and that’s willing to get better and wants to win. We have a good opportunity here and I’m trying to come in here and do what I can to help this team win. And whatever opportunity that Brandon Hyde has for me, I’m going to be ready,” Phillips said earlier in the Baltimore clubhouse.
He has watched the Orioles from across the field with Tampa Bay and sees a very different team in 2022. One that begins tonight at 54-51 and two games out of the final American League playoff spot.
“Being on the Rays, we won 18 of 19 against Baltimore last year and looking from the other dugout (this season) it’s night and day different,” he said. “How they are preparing, their approach, the information that they are getting. I told the hitting coaches, I’m a sponge. I wanna bring the energy, contribute as much as I can and I want to win the World Series. You have to belive that first then actually do it.”
Phillips is a career .259/.355/.537 (14-for-54) hitter in 22 games at Oriole Park, with eight extra-base hits (4-2B, 3B, 3 HR), eight runs scored, 11 RBIs, eight walks, and four stolen bases. His .892 career OPS at Oriole Park is his highest at any ballpark where he has played at least 10 games. And his batting line is .280/.308/.400 (7-for-25) with three doubles, two runs scored, one RBI, one walk, and two stolen bases in eight games at Camden Yards this season.
He said his new teammates have provided him a warm welcome to the club.
“Awesome. Unbelievable. Obviously Joey Krehbiel is one of my best friends, he was in my wedding.We went to the same high school. I picked his brain about every guy in here and it’s been great reviews on everyone. Very encouraging. A clubhouse of good character guys is half the battle,” said Phillips.
O’s alums are back at the Yard: The ongoing celebration of the 30th anniversary of Oriole Park at Camden Yards will culminate tonight and tomorrow with the Orioles hosting the Pirates. The festivities include Orioles alumni autographs, a pregame ceremony celebration on Saturday, unique memorabilia located at team store locations throughout the ballpark, and an Oriole Park-themed giveaway item.
Prior to tomorrow’s game, the Orioles will hold a special pregame ceremony, emceed by O’s broadcaster Brett Hollander, honoring Orioles from the last 30 years who had some special moments in this park. The list includes Robert Andino, Mike Devereaux, Jay Gibbons, Chris Hoiles, Ubaldo Jimenez, Rodrigo Lopez, Jeff Reboulet, Rick Sutcliffe and Hall of Famers Mike Mussina and Eddie Murray.
Gates open tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. for the 5:05 p.m. first pitch and the ceremony will start at approximately 4:40 p.m. Murray and Mussina will throw out first pitches.
Earlier today, Sutcliffe provided some of his memories of playing in this ballpark.
“I’ve told the story about (then manager) Johnny Oates walking me out (to the mound) in December of ’91, telling me I was going to pitch the first game here,” he said. “I remember my wife telling me how the stadium was so fan friendly.
“My grandson and I watch three or four Orioles games a week and I still do some TV for the Cubs but he told me in April, he said ‘Gramps, this team is a lot better than what people think.’ He’s nine years old.
"As happy as I was in ’92, I too remember what the fans were like at Memorial Stadium and here, but the enthusiasm was off the charts. The Baltimore fans know the game of baseball. I don’t think there is anything about this ballpark that they didn’t think of and now they have an exciting team to watch once again.”
Sutcliffe is a big fan of the current and future Orioles offense.
“I have said over the last couple of months, if you could have any lineup in baseball, both now and looking forward, and I’ve been doing ESPN for 27 years now and do Cubs TV (to keep up with the current game), but if I could have one lineup and I know what the Dodgers have and I know what the Yankees have done, I would take the Oriole lineup right now.
“Like (Trey) Mancini, I am a cancer survivor and it was devastating to lose him, but some of the young kids need at-bats. I think they are just creating more at-bats to create an opportunity for this offense to get even better. I think the excitement and what they have done this year continues to get better.”
Devereaux also is impressed with this current group of Orioles.
“There is confidence on this team that is great to see. I think the future is bright as far as their draft picks this year and all that, there is a future ahead of winning baseball.
“Sometimes it could be tough to hear about a rebuilding year. I guess ’89 was our rebuilding year. It depends on the camaraderie of the team and how the team comes together to form a winning group and season and it is very possible now for this organization,” he said.
Lopez, who made a few opening day starts on the mound in Baltimore, was excited to return.
“My best years in baseball were right here with the Orioles,” Lopez said. "My first win and opening days, I had three here. My first game here was against the Yankees pitching out of the bullpen. Seeing the great atmosphere and the celebrations of opening days with the orange carpet, good memories for sure."
Gibbons said he has wonderful memories of his time at Camden Yards even though the Orioles were not a winning club for his tenure with the team from 2001 through 2007.
“The friendships I made over the years here, teammates and non-teammates. I got to go to the park every day and play ball and I had fun. Win or lose, we had fun in the clubhouse and on the field. We played as hard as we could and played in a tough division, but I have a lot of positive thoughts. We did the best we could,” he said.