MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Age just a number to veteran Phillips

Age just a number to veteran Phillips

NEW YORK -- A reporter mistakenly tells Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips that he is 36 years old. Phillips quickly corrects the reporter and informs him that he is a year younger.

Phillips may be 35, but he says feels like he is 10 years younger. As he puts it, he even dresses like he is 25. It helps that Phillips is playing for a team he grew up watching while living in Georgia. In fact, it's a dream come true for him. Not only did Phillips grow up a Braves fan -- Deion Sanders was his favorite athlete -- but he was a batboy for the U.S. Olympic team in 1996 when the games were played at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

"It feels good playing for the Atlanta Braves," Phillips said on the Newsmakers podcast on MLB.com. "It's a dream come true. It's a blessing in disguise. It's something I wanted to do growing up. My family is very happy. My friends are very happy. I'm happy the Braves gave me the opportunity to fulfill my dream."

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Phillips came to the Braves on Feb. 12 in a trade that sent right-hander Carlos Portuondo and left-hander Andrew McKirahan to the Reds. As a 10-and-5 player, Phillips had to consent to the deal. Any player with at least 10 years of Major League service time, including the past five with his current team, has the right to block any trade.

Phillips had a chance to be traded to the D-backs and Nationals before being dealt to Atlanta, but he prevented the deals from happening. Phillips wouldn't go into detail about what happened with Arizona and Washington.

"You have to talk to the Reds about what really happened regarding those trades," Phillips said. "There are three sides to every story.

"But right now, I'm happy to be a [member of the Braves]. They told me I was going to come over here and play every day. I wasn't going to be embarrassed by sitting on the bench and platooning. That's one thing I wasn't going to do. I always wanted to play for the Braves, and they gave me the opportunity to make that happen. Why should I turn down a trade to go back home and be in front of your family and friends and fulfill one of your dreams that you always wanted to do?"

Now Phillips is playing alongside a stud shortstop in Dansby Swanson, who is in his first full season in the Major Leagues. Phillips is already impressed. He said Swanson is "very polished and has great hands."

"He is a great guy," Phillips said. "We talk a lot and I feel he is going to be good for many years to come."

For Swanson, he feels fortunate to have a teammate like Phillips by his side.

"The biggest thing is watching him," Swanson said. "You learn just from seeing how he goes about his business, his preparation and all types of things. When you see somebody like that still doing it the way he does, it makes you want to be better."

Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002 and does a podcast, Newsmakers. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.