BOSTON (CBS) — Brandon Phillips is about to make some Red Sox history.
The 17-year MLB veteran, who signed a minor league deal with Boston back in June, was called up Tuesday as part of the September roster expansion. He’ll likely make his Red Sox debut Wednesday afternoon when Boston closes out a three-game series against the Braves in Atlanta.
When he takes the field, he’ll become the first player in Red Sox history to wear the No. 0 jersey. That’s the number that Phillips chose upon being called up, because he really didn’t have any other option. He wore No. 4 for much of his career, first donning the number back in 2005 when he joined the Cincinnati Reds, but the Red Sox retired that number for Joe Cronin back in 1984.
Phillips’ next choice was No. 7, which he wore with the Cleveland Indians from 2003-05, but that currently belongs to catcher Christian Vazquez. He thought about sending some cash the backstop’s way for his digit, but didn’t want to mess with the team’s good mojo.
“I was going to pay him for it but then I was like, ‘Uh, they’re playing good baseball, let me leave it alone.'” Phillips told reporters in Atlanta on Tuesday. “And then I was going to have No. 44 because it was two 4’s, and I was like, ‘Uh, one of my teammates [Brandon Workman] has that number, too.’ So I said, ‘They’re playing good baseball, so I’ll leave that alone.'”
So Phillips thought hard, and decided to take an unconventional approach to his latest stop.
“I just asked myself what is the weirdest number you have up there? And he was like, ‘Let me look,’ and he said, ‘Zero.’ And I said, ‘Get me that.’ I’m happy with zero.”
Phillips played 38 games for the Pawtucket Red Sox after signing with Boston two months ago, and he stuck around despite the option to opt out of his minor league deal on two different occasions. He hit .302 with 14 doubles and 29 runs scored, and should now give the Red Sox another veteran presence in the locker room during their stretch run. He hopes to play a small part of a team vying for a World Series.
Phillips has only played in nine playoff games over his career, and has never made it out of the Divisional Round. He’d like that to change this season.
“It would be nice to have some bling bling on my finger, too, so that’s basically it,” said Phillips.
Update: Fittingly, Phillips hit the game-winning homer for Boston in their amazing comeback win over the Braves on Wednesday, becoming the first player in team history to hit a go-ahead homer in the ninth inning or later in his debut with the team. Not too shabby.