"[Baker] is like my second pops," Phillips said. "He is down to earth. He is a realist. The thing that makes him successful is, he is honest with his players. He really believes in his own technique. Regardless of what other people think, he decides his own fate.
"He believes in his coaching staff, he believes in his players. He will call you in the office and he'll say, 'If you can't do your job, I'll find somebody else to do it.' When you are a player and you hear somebody say that to you, it makes you step up your game or you could fold. But the thing is, you have to respect how he approaches you, because he is real down to earth. He is a realist."
Phillips had a chance to be reunited with Baker this offseason. The Nationals and Reds had a deal in place that would have sent Phillips to Washington, but the veteran second baseman did not waive his no-trade clause. As a 10 and 5 player, Phillips must consent to any deal. Any player with 10 or more years of Major League service time, including the past five with his current team, has the right to block any trade.
Phillips denied that he vetoed the trade to Washington, but two sources said he wanted a significant contract extension, and the Nationals were not willing to give it to him, so the deal fell through. The Nationals ended up signing second baseman Daniel Murphy to a three-year, $37.5 million contract instead.
"That's something you have to ask the Reds. You can't really ask me that question," Phillips said when asked why he turned down the deal to Washington. "You have to talk to the Reds about that. I would love to play for a winning team. That's just me in general, but many things happened behind the scenes that a lot of people don't know about. So the only thing I do is play the game the best way I know how.
"… I just want to win I just want to play the game that I love. My goal is to get a championship ring. I want one badly. I love Cincinnati. My family is happy here, my friends, I'm good with my teammates. But whatever happens, happens. There is always a new beginning for something."
Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002.and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.