ST. PETERSBURG — Brett Phillips played at Tropicana Field in 2012 when he was a senior at Seminole High and a member of Team Pinellas in the annual Hillsborough vs. Pinellas All-Star Game. He was just weeks away from being picked in the sixth round of the MLB draft by the Astros.
Three teams and six years later, Phillips was back at the Trop on Monday as a centerfielder for the Royals. He was playing for the first time as a professional in his hometown.
Phillips estimated that about 1,000 people from Seminole had said they were going to the game. Section 127 was filled with 200 family members and close friends, most with iPhones fixed on his every at-bat. He was 0-for-3 with a strikeout in the Royals' 1-0 loss.
"It's amazing,'' Phillips said before the game. "It's one of those milestones in your professional career you want to check off, playing in front of your family and friends.''
It almost happened last season when he was with the Brewers. Phillips was called up a few weeks before Milwaukee was scheduled to come to St. Petersburg. But in the Brewers' series before the one with the Rays, he was sent back down to Triple A.
"That was a dagger,'' Phillips said.
He was traded to the Royals on July 28, and Monday's game was his 16th start with Kansas City. One of the first things he did after the trade was look to see when the Royals played at the Rays.
He is staying at the Vinoy Renaissance with the team while his room at his parents' Seminole house is used for family who came in from out of town. He doesn't plan on spending much time in his hotel room this week. He plans to see as many friends as possible.
"It's just been awesome seeing the amount of people I've crossed paths with and had an impact on, and then seeing them come out and support me is super humbling,'' Phillips said. "It's just another game, but the cherry on top is being able to play in front of them.''
Phillips and his dad, Brett Sr., would come to as many Rays games as possible before he turned pro. Phillips wanted to be a Ray, but this is the next-best thing.
"Oh, yeah, we'd come here all the time,'' Brett Sr. said. "(The Rays) were interested in him for a while there. But this is awesome. It worked out very well.''
Robertson doesn’t rule out return this season
Daniel Robertson has had a frustrating year from a health standpoint, but he hopes this season isn't a total wash. Robertson has a cast on his left hand and wrist after spraining the thumb while sliding into second base Aug. 3 against the White Sox. He was also on the 10- day disabled list in June with a hamstring strain.
He will remain in the cast for about another two weeks. He has been able to do light throwing and said he hopes to get in some games at the end of the season.
"It won't make me lose sleep if I don't play (again) this year. We don't want to rush into anything,'' Robertson said. "But if I'm able to come back early and snag some at-bats, I won't be mad about that.''
Snell hopes to keep rolling
The Royals will likely see a much different LHP Blake Snell tonight than the one they saw in 2017, the only time he has faced them. In that May game, Snell gave up 10 hits and four earned runs in five innings. He hasn't given up that many hits in a game since.
Since coming off the 10-day DL after the All-Star Game, Snell is 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA in three starts. He didn't allow a run in his past two starts, each five innings. Snell will still be on a bit of a leash, but he could go further than five innings if things go well.
"I don't know how close they think I am, but I feel very good,'' Snell said. "I'm getting stronger, and I'm feeling more comfortable. I just have to continue to be consistent.''
Snell threw 76 pitches Thursday against the Yankees, his most since returning from the DL. His 2.10 ERA was third in the majors and second best in the American League entering Monday. His 14 wins were tied for sixth in the majors.
• C Jesus Sucre has a sore left wrist but did play Sunday against the Red Sox. Manager Kevin Cash said starter Michael Perez needed a day off but Sucre will get more rest. "We'll probably give him another day or two before we get him back in the mix,'' Cash said. Perez played Monday. … LHP Vidal Nuno is on the 10-day DL with a right hamstring strain. He has another rehab start before being re-evaluated. "We'll keep him around three innings, maybe four, and 50 to 60 pitches,'' Cash said. "If all goes well, we'll look for him to come back … in September.''
• First-round draft pick Matthew Liberatore earned his first win as a professional Monday for the Gulf Coast League Rays. He pitched five innings, gave up three hits and struck out eight in a 6-0 win over the GCL Twins.
• The Rays are 9-7 at home since the All-Star break. They are 5-1 against teams over .500 and 4-6 against teams under .500.