CINCINNATI — Never let it be said that Brandon Phillips isn’t one tough hombre, or one tough Dat Dude.
He is like a snake in the grass — you have to cut off his head to stop him. And that might not prevent his body from making a diving stop and a from-the-knees throw.
Phillips missed the last two games, diagnosed with a sprained left big toe (turf toes), but he was backing the lineup Friday night, wearing a special built-up shoe for additional support.
“He had 48 hours of recovery time, had a lot of treatment and was seen by a foot specialists,” said Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price. “We don’t force our players to play. We have to make sure they are comfortable on the field. Most of our players are slightly banged up right now, just a part of the long grind of the season.
“Because of Brandon’s history, he played through two significant hand and wrist injuries the last two years — well, he wants to be on the field. If he says he needs a day (off), we know he needs a day,” Price added.
THE REDS HAVE a new member of the bullpen, right hander Ryan Matthews, signed after the Los Angeles Angels put him on waivers. And where does he fit?
“I would be comfortable putting him into any environment at this point,” said Price. “Lately we have been leaning toward the Cingrani-Diaz-Chapman scenario. All three of them have pitched a lot in the last five games. So you might see a lot more of Hoover-Matthews-Badenhop-Lorenzen. in the next couple of days.
“I’d like to get Matthews introduced to our team in a less stressful situation, but he is a big leaguer and has been successful on good teams,” said Price. “So I don’t have any apprehension to bringing him to a close game late, if that’s what the situation calls for.”
MATTHEWS, OF COURSE is please to be a working man. He started the season in Triple-A, got a brief call-up by the Angels and was placed on waivers and claimed by the Reds.
“I started the season in Triple-A, then got the callup with the Angels,” said Matthews. “ It was quick there, so it was a very nice phone call to find out that I had a big-league job.”
Injuries the past couple of years have kept Matthews in the training room for more time than on a pitching mound, including one in which he inuried his hand slamming his fist into a dugout wall.
“That’s the biggest thing,” he said. “When I’m healthy, I know I can get guys out in the big leagues. Just a few quirky injuries the last couple of years. The big one, the self-inflicted one where I slammed a glove into a locker in 2013. That one kind of changed the path of my career a little bit, but I feel like I’m back throwing the ball the way I can, back to the way I was when I was successful in Washington.”
Asked if his temper tantrum injury was educational, Matthews siled and said, “Absolutely. That was something where I just lost my emotions. It was a tough game that I had that day and I made a bad mistake. I definitely won’t let it happen again. I’m a guy who plays with some emotion. I take this very seriously. I’m very passionate when I’m out there, but it’ll never boil over to that point again.”
REMEMBER BRAD Boxberger? He was the Reds’ No. 1 draft pick in 2009, a pitcher out of the University of Southern California. He was part of the trade that also sent Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and Edinson Volquez to San Diego for pitcher Mat Latos.
What is Boxberger doing these days? Very well, thank you. He is Tampa Bay’s closer and is 10 for 10 in save opportunities with two wins. Meanwhile, Latos is 1-and-3 in seven starts with the Miami Marlins and a 4.72 ERA.
Homer Bailey stared at an open package in front of his locker — and he stared and he stared and he stared. And a broad grin never left his face. In the box was a hunting bow that looked as lethal as pin-pulled hand grenade.
“This like owning a bat Babe Ruth used,” he said. “It is worth $15,000.” Somebody asked if he bought and Bailey said, “No, a gift from a friend.”
Fellow pitcher Mike Leake was looking over his shoulder and said, “Free? So that’s why you’re smiling?”
“Yes,” said Bailey.
BOOK SIGNINGS: For those looking for Father’s Day presents (early), how about my book, ‘The Real McCoy?’ On Monday morning at 9 a.m. I will be in the lobby of the Dayton International Airport in Vandalia selling and signing books. And on Thursday at 6:30 I will be at the Vandalia Public Library selling and signing books, 500 South Dixie, in Vandalia.