Opponent: Eugene Emeralds
When: 6:35 p.m.
Where: PK Park, Eugene, Ore.
Radio: KRKO (1380 AM)
Probable starters: Everett left-hander Anthony Fernandez (2-0, 2.35 ERA) vs. Eugene right-hander Matthew Lollis (1-1, 1.39)
Moving up in the order
Anthony Phillips has moved up in the world.
The AquaSox shortstop recently received a lineup promotion, getting moved to the leadoff spot from the No. 9 hole, and so far he’s taking advantage.
“It was an opportunity given me,” Phillips said. “I’m grateful I got it and I just hope I can keep getting on base so the guys behind me can drive me in.”
Phillips got the call to lead off Wednesday in Spokane, replacing the struggling Dwight Britton who’d been in the leadoff spot all season. Phillips responded by getting on base six times — twice on singles, twice on walks and twice on errors.
In his first three games in the leadoff spot, Phillips reached base eight times in 15 plate appearances.
“One of the keys in every lineup is to try to put the ball in play,” Sox manager Jose Moreno said about the lineup change. “Britton was struggling a little bit, and while Phillips is young he’s one of the veteran guys we have in our lineup, having been here three years. He put the ball in play and right now his pitch selection is real good.”
Phillips had a brief stint in the leadoff spot last season, but he struggled to get on base and was moved down. He finished the season with a .295 on-base percentage, hardly the stuff of an effective leadoff man.
But going into Saturday Phillips was getting on base at a .411 clip. The improvement wasn’t due to an increase in batting average — last season he batted .247 and this season he was batting .250 going into Saturday — but an increase in plate discipline. Through 14 games Phillips had walked nine times. Last season Phillips walked just 14 times in 68 contests.
“Last year I was kind of inexperienced a little bit and swung at a lot of pitches,” Phillips said. “A lot of the coaches helped me this year at extended (spring training), just to work the counts more so I can have better approaches at home plate. It’s really helped me a lot and I haven’t had this many walks at the beginning of the season the last couple seasons.”
Britton returned to the leadoff spot Saturday as Phillips was given the night off. But if he continues getting on base, Phillips is sure to see his name at the top of the order again.
When Sox second baseman Fred Bello hit his inside-the-park home run during Friday’’s 8-6 victory over Salem-Keizer, it mas Everett’s first inside-the-parker since Kevin Robles hit one against the then-Portland Rockies in August of 1999. … Today the Sox get their first look at Eugene’s new stadium, PK Park, which is located on the campus of the University of Oregon. Eugene’s Northwest League affiliate had played at Civic Stadium the previous 41 years. … The Salem-Keizer coaching staff kept the fans entertained during Friday’s game. Manager Tom Trebelhorn came out to vigorously argue calls four times, though he avoided being ejected. Third-base coach Derin McMains wasn’t so lucky as he was ejected arguing a call at third base during the fourth inning.
Nick Patterson, Herald Writer