It was a marathon day in the bullpen.
Long after rookie catcher Adam Moore caught his last pitch in the Mariners’ 14-inning victory Thursday, Jason Phillips felt like a man who’d been in a day-long crouch.
Moore caught all 213 pitches thrown by eight M’s pitchers.
But it was Phillips, the Mariners’ bullpen catcher, who not only warmed up those guys, but also threw with the left fielder each inning.
“They talk about us having the least amount of relief appearances in the league, but it felt like we were trying to make up for it all in one day,” Phillips said. “I was thinking, ‘Well, the bullpen phone works.’ It never rang that much all season.”
Phillips wasn’t complaining by any means.
This has been a rewarding season for the former big-league catcher, who went to spring training hoping to win a job with the team. He did, although it wasn’t quite what he had in mind when he showed up.
The Mariners told Phillips there wasn’t room for him in the organization as a player, but they’d like him to stay as their bullpen catcher. It forced him to make a spur-of-the-moment decision to end his playing career, but he did it without regret then and he has none now.
“I’m not that far removed from playing, and sometimes I’ll see a guy throw a pitch and think I wouldn’t have called for that,” Phillips said. “You’re definitely looking at things from a coaching perspective. I understand what a coach goes through now, hearing them talk and understanding how evaluations are processed. There are things you can and can’t do from a coaching side and a front-office side, whether it’s money or whatever, that players don’t understand. I’m getting a real crash course in why decisions and moves are made.”
First baseman Russell Branyan, on the disabled list with a herniated disc in his back, went home to Tennessee and will join the team next week in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Manager Don Wakamatsu said the best-case scenario is for Branyan to play at Toronto late next week, although he may not return until the season-ending homestand Sept. 29-Oct. 4.