From the Sidelines: Smith, Phillips shining in spring

Published 7:49 pm Friday, March 6, 2009

Spring training is in full swing for Major League Baseball.

Hitters are swinging. Pitchers are throwing. Fans are hoping. It’s a pretty unique time in professional sports.

Hundreds of players are gathered in Florida and Arizona to go through Grapefruit and Cactus League play. Some are guaranteed a roster spot. Others know they are a valuable part of their organization’s future and are enjoying a brief glance at what the big leagues have in store.

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Still, there are others who are in camp looking to catch someone’s attention. They are the journeymen. The ones whose opportunities have yet to knock.

They are the Minor League veterans who’ve had more “cups of coffee” than they care to count; the guys whose talent has never limited them as much as their circumstances.

But, while it is the big names that fill fantasy rosters, make for high-priced autographs and make permanent impressions on the minds of fans, it is the “Crash Davis” guys that make spring training worthwhile and, often, do all the little things that lead to successful ball clubs.

Two such players looking for their first genuine opportunity are Demopolis’ own Jason Smith and Andy Phillips.

Smith has made an early impact with the Houston Astros.