Spring 2021 Magazine

Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Brett Phillips embraces role as 'keep-it-simple' coach

When the Tampa Bay Rays made a trade with Kansas City for Brett Phillips in August, they knew they were adding depth to their outfield group. What they may not have realized is that they were also getting a “keep-it-simple” coach.

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The 26-year-old Phillips — one of the funniest players in baseball — was left off the Rays roster for the ALCS due to their need for an extra pitcher, but he remains an ever-present, uplifting presence in the dugout.

“I’m looking around and I’m like, ‘We got the manager and the bench coach, and the analytical guy, but we don’t have the keep-it-simple guy,” Phillips joked with Sports Illustrated. “So I call myself the keep-it-simple guy. I consider myself a player-coach for the ALCS.”

One of his main jobs, it appears, is to cheer for fellow outfielder Randy Arozarena, who’s emerged as a playoff star for Tampa. After Arozarena’s game-tying home run in Game 4 on Wednesday night, Phillips was ready:

The Rays ended up losing Game 4 to Houston, but still lead the series 3-1. They could clinch a World Series berth with a win Thursday night.

Should they advance, Phillips will likely resume his duties as a player. There are no off-days in the playoffs until the World Series, meaning the team may not need an extra pitcher with the extra rest during the World Series.

Regardless, Phillips will continue being the great teammate he’s long been known for. He brings the fun to any clubhouse he’s in, and plenty of laughs if he gets laughing. His laugh is legendary.

Phillips’ love for others stems from his faith in Christ. He lists Isaiah 41:10 in his social media bios, and says his faith has grown since he’s been in pro baseball. He said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in 2018 that he accepted Christ in seventh grade at a youth group meeting, but felt led to get baptized at a Pro Athletes Outreach conference in November 2016. He left that event with a reading plan that would take him through the entire Bible in a year. He says he never missed a day, even if he had to do the reading at 2 a.m. after a game.

It’s never been clearer to Phillips why he plays this game.

“I play because of Him and I play for Him,” Phillips said on the podcast. “And I play just because He’s blessed me with the gifts and the opportunity, not me. I’ve got nothing to do with it.”

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