06-04-2006, 08:59 AM
Join Date: Jul 2005
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Andy Phillips Fills In Nicely For Offense
Andy Phillips, who before last week never before started more than three major-league games in row, has become a fixture in the lineup. He homered yesterday for the second straight day, and since May 16 is hitting .421 with nine RBI in 38 at-bats. On this trip, he is 10-for-22.
"When we started the season," manager Joe Torre said, "there was no way you could envision him getting any kind of extended play. Now with the rash of injuries, he's had an opportunity and he's done something with it."
To get Phillips' bat in the lineup, Torre has been playing him at first base, with Jason Giambi at designated hitter. While Giambi -- who sat out yesterday with a viral stomach disorder -- has had trouble handling the DH role in the past, he is glad to rest his glove to give Phillips a chance.
"I want him to stay up here in the big leagues," Giambi said. "I know the only way he can showcase what he can do is by getting playing time.
"He can hit."
Phillips, 29, attributes his hot surge to a combination of a swing adjustment and the playing time to implement it.
Over the first six weeks of the season, in spotty play and even in batting practice, "It would come and go," he said. "I was constantly searching for that feel."
Phillips naturally hits to all fields. But he was concentrating so much on going to right that his swing got too long.
So about 2 1/2 weeks ago, he began some drills on "contact points" with hitting coach Don Mattingly. Using a tee and soft toss, Phillips worked on hitting inside pitches in front of the plate while still letting outside pitches travel over the plate.
"It's helped me open up both sides of the field," he said. "It's paid off."
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