NEW YORK – Brett Phillips' bats never got to Yankee Stadium. His glove arrived, and that's what mattered more in his Kansas City Royals debut.
Phillips jumped and robbed Austin Romine of a possible three-run homer in the fourth inning of the Royals' 6-3 loss to New York Yankees on Sunday. And his eyes were closed as the ball landed in his glove at the top of the right-field wall.
"Did I? Wow, that's impressive," said the 24-year-old, who showed speed and a powerful arm.
Phillips could be excused for going batty. He was at Triple-A Colorado Springs at the time he was traded Friday night in a deal that sent Royals star third baseman Mike Moustakas to the Milwaukee Brewers. Phillips took a United flight from Denver to Houston, with a connection to Newark, New Jersey.
His lumber got lost.
"They told me they were on the plane," Phillips said. "They got checked on the plane, but they weren't checked off the plane, so I don't know if were stuck in the back or they just didn't see it. I'm hoping that they get shipped to Chicago."
After Sunday's game, the Royals travel to a series at the White Sox that starts Tuesday night.
Phillips uses Axe bats, which don't have the usual knob handle. Hunter Dozier is the only member of the Royals with one of the Axe models, and he has exactly one.
"It's a lot of pressure on me today," Phillips said before the game. "So this is all I've got, and if this doesn't work out, I'll just grab something from the bat rack and go out there and compete."
Phillips prefers 32½-inch, 31-ounce bats, and he anticipated having to make an adjustment with the borrowed lumber.
"Hunter, he's a little bigger than me," he said, "a lot bigger than me, and a lot stronger than me, and a lot better looking than me. He uses a 34-31½. I feel like someone just went across the street at the park and cut down the tree and gave it to me, so that's what I have. But that's all right. It seems large."
Sitting in front of his locker a few feet away, Dozier interjected: "There's plenty of hits in there."
"That's a great teammate: saving hits for the new guy," he said.
Acquired along with pitcher Jorge Lopez, Phillips was hit by a pitch, then grounded out and struck out. He wasn't sure whether Romine's drive would have cleared the wall.
"''I put my head down to run right off the bat and then picked it up again and realized that it wasn't hit as hard as I thought it was initially," he said. "So that's when I felt like I gave myself some room to jump."
Phillips made his big league debut for the Brewers in June 2017 and was hitting .182 with four RBIs in 15 games for Milwaukee this year during a call-up that ended last week. He was batting .240 with six homers, 25 RBIs and 11 steals for Triple-A Colorado Springs of the Pacific Coast League.
Before robbing Romine, Phillips forced speedy Aaron Hicks to hold at second on Greg Bird's fourth-inning flyout to right.
"He looked good out there in the outfield, and really liked his swing," Royals manager Ned Yost said.