An Oriole who got away: Evan Phillips returns with Dodgers; Irvin moves to bullpen -
Rich Dubroff

An Oriole who got away: Evan Phillips returns with Dodgers; Irvin moves to bullpen

Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Created:


BALTIMORE—The Orioles could use an upgrade in the bullpen to help Félix Bautista and Yennier Cano for the stretch run. One reliever they had and let get away returned to Oriole Park for the first time since leaving the Orioles’ organization on August 2nd, 2021.

Evan Phillips has been terrific for the Los Angeles Dodgers, going 9-7 with a 1.79 earned-run average in 110 games. That’s a huge difference from his time in Baltimore when he had a 7.36 ERA in 44 games from 2018-2020.

Phillips came to the Orioles on July 31st, 2018 in the trade that sent starter Kevin Gausman and reliever Darren O’Day to Atlanta. He stayed with the organization for three years

After Phillips, who’d been at Triple-A Norfolk, was released by the Orioles, he signed with Tampa Bay two days later. After one game with the Rays, he was put on waivers and claimed by the Dodgers.

Phillips, who was born in Salisbury, Maryland, has no ill feelings toward the Orioles.

“Baltimore will always hold a special place in my heart,” he said. “My family’s from here. I grew up a big fan. Any opportunity to play in Camden Yards is always special.

:”I lived out that dream, playing in that uniform, the team that I always cheered for growing up. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as well as I was hoping for, but without those struggles I wouldn’t have landed here with the Dodgers. I’m extremely grateful and fortunate to be in the situation I am now.”

The Orioles would love to have another dependable reliever like Phillips, but he didn’t develop for them the way others did.

“I think time was the key thing that I was missing,” Phillips said. “I needed more repetitions finding out who I was as a pitcher. I think early in my career with the Braves and the Orioles, I felt a little rushed. I felt l wasn’t quite ready for the major leagues. I felt pressure to perform right away.

“That was all coming from myself. I would always try to outwork the struggles and that didn’t necessarily work for me when I didn’t have the correct recipe to succeed so with that time in the minor leagues and getting the opportunity eventually with Los Angeles, that accumulation of time and repetitions plus a ton of work on my end. I never stopped working. I credit myself with going out to the field every day with the intention to get better.

“Even when I was going through my struggles, my intentions were to get better, and eventually I had the ‘aha’ moment of what I needed to do to succeed and I think the best way to wrap that up is to stop being passive and be an aggressive pitcher, throw a ton of strikes, force the other team to beat you, put the pressure on their hands.”

Phillips played with several of the current Orioles.

“John Means is a good friend of mine. He was in my wedding. Dean Kremer. I still pull for those guys,” Phillips said.

“It’s fun to watch the guys I came up and struggled with in those years with Baltimore. It’s good to see them reaping the benefits of that time and that patience with that rebuild. It’s going to be great to compete against these guys. It’s fun to just be in this ballpark.”

Phillips, a former offseason Uber driver, is married and has a son.

“No more driving for Uber. No more side jobs in the offseason,” he said. “Dad is my new side job.”

Irvin to bullpen: The arrival of starting pitcher Grayson Rodriguez means that Cole Irvin is going to the bullpen. Irvin said he was told before the All-Star break he would be leaving the rotation and he didn’t pitch in the weekend series against Miami.

“All I want to do is win,” Irvin said. “However we need to do that, whatever role I’m going to be in, I’m going to do it.”

Rodriguez displaced Irvin, who is 1-3 with a 5.50 ERA, but Irvin is rooting for the highly touted rookie to do well.
“We expect a lot out of Grayson,” Irvin said. “He certainly has the stuff. Hopefully, he can stick around a little bit longer. I’m excited to be teammates with him.”

An injury could put Irvin back in the starting rotation.

“They just told me to be ready in whatever role that is. It could be a couple of different things,” Irvin said. “Study the lineup as best as you can. That’s all my job is—to get outs—and so I’m going to try to do that. Keep it simple and win with these guys in the clubhouse.”

Notes:  Manager Brandon Hyde said that centerfielder Cedric Mullins, who’s out of the lineup for a second straight day because of a right quadriceps injury, is making progress “He’s a lot better today,” Hyde said. “He still day-to-day. Encouraged that his quad is feeling better. Still getting treatment on it, but much improved waking up this morning. … Hyde said that no decision has been made on the next move for left-handed reliever Cionel Pérez, who remains on the 15-day injured list with left forearm soreness. Pérez pitched 1 2/3 hitless innings for Double-A Bowie on Saturday night. … The Orioles optioned right-hander Eduard Bazardo to Norfolk to make room for Rodriguez.

Question time: I’ll be answering Orioles questions in the coming days. Please email them to: [email protected].

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