Phillips called up to Yankees; Smith prepares for Triple-A playoffs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 7, 2005

While not both of Demopolis’s professional baseball players will finish the season with the team they’d hoped, both will at least finish it playing games that matter.

Demopolis Academy product Andy Phillips received his sixth call-up to the big leagues Sep. 1 as he arrived to finish the season with the New York Yankees as a utility infielder. In a story for, Yankee manager Joe Torre praised Phillips’s defensive abilities and Phillips’s versatility in the field is expected to be an asset as well.

Torre showed some of his faith in Phillips during a recent series against the Oakland A’s, using Phillips as a late-game defensive substitute for three consecutive games from Sep. 1 through 3. Phillips took over for regular third baseman Alex Rodriguez in the sixth inning of the Sep. 1 game, and in the eighth inning for first-base starter Jason Giambi in the Sep. 2 and 3 games. Phillips’s only at-bat occurred in the eighth inning of the Sep. 1 game, when he flied out to left, lowering his season batting average with the Yankees to .162.

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But thanks to his glove, Phillips remains on the Yankees’ active roster. His cause was also helped, according to an story, by usual back-up first baseman Tino Martinez’s balky back. Phillips once again finished the season with impressive numbers for the Yankees’ triple-A affiliate Columbus Clippers, batting an even .300 while smacking 22 home runs, driving in 54 runs, totaling 60 runs scored, and hitting for a .573 slugging percentage–all in only 75 games. (If Phillips kept up that pace for a season in the majors, for instance, he would finish with 48 home runs.)

For DHS graduate Jason Smith, his season will not end with the Detroit Tiger team he began the season with. Smith was not re-called to join the Tigers’ 40-man roster and will remain with the triple-A Toledo Mud Hens. But thanks in part to Smith’s contributions, the Mud Hens easily captured the Western Division of the International League and are about to start the Triple-A playoffs with a best-of-five series against the Norfolk Tides. Game 1 is scheduled for Wednesday night.

Smith finished the season still looking for a regular spot in the Mud Hen lineup, sitting out some games and receiving starts in the outfield for the first time in 2005. He nonetheless closed the regular season on a high note, going 6-for-11 in his final three games, including a 2-3 performance in the season finale with a double, run scored, and RBI.

Smith’s final totals with the Mud Hens were 6 home runs, 25 RBIs, 24 runs scored, a .230 batting average and a .406 slugging percentage thanks to Smith’s surprising number of doubles and home runs. Of Smith’s 43 hits for the Mud Hens, 19 went for extra bases.