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DODGER REPORT

Phillips Can't Catch a Break, or a Runner

July 25, 2005|Steve Henson | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — In a twist on Lou Gehrig's famous speech, catcher Jason Phillips says he is the unluckiest man on the face of the earth.

An inordinate number of his line drives have been right at fielders, and he almost never gets an infield hit because he is extremely slow. To Phillips, it's a wonder he's even batting .237 with more runs batted in -- 43 -- than any other National League catcher except Mike Piazza.

"I've lost RBIs as well as hits," Phillips said. "This season so far has been beyond unlucky."

Upon reflection, though, Phillips decided he is the luckiest man on the face of the earth. He is the everyday catcher for the Dodgers after two years of playing part time for the Mets.

"I've never been happier," he said. "It got pretty miserable last year, and that all seems so long ago."

Phillips reflected on his career when he became emotional after walking into Shea Stadium.

"Before the game I had to come in here and get away from everybody," he said.

In two years with the Mets, Phillips caught 116 games and played first base in 122 games, batting .298 as a rookie in 2003 and .218 last season. He was traded for pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii, who is 3-8 with a 5.15 earned-run average in 14 starts.

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Throwing continues to be Phillips' glaring weakness. Fifty-nine of 71 base stealers have been successful, although Dodger coaches say the pitchers share the blame.

In the first inning Saturday, Phillips couldn't throw out Met leadoff batter Jose Reyes stealing second even though the Dodgers called a pitchout. The Mets scored two runs in the inning but probably wouldn't have scored at all had Reyes been thrown out.

Manager Jim Tracy said the fact that Phillips didn't play Sunday had nothing to do with his throwing problems. "We're traveling cross-country after the game and have another game [today]," Tracy said. "It's just to keep him fresh."

Reserve Mike Rose threw out the speedy Reyes trying to steal in the second inning Sunday. Rose has thrown out two of 16.

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The Dodgers -- or anyone else -- might have a tough time wresting outfielders Adam Dunn or Austin Kearns from Cincinnati before the trading deadline.

"We're continuing to be consistent," Red General Manager Dan O'Brien told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "The young players are the nucleus of our team. We want to retain them.

"The only thing that would cause us to have a change of direction is if we got overwhelmed [with value in return]. We intend to keep the core intact."

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