CINCINNATI — It is difficult to tell when Brandon Phillips is euphoric just by looking at him because the smile on his face is as permanent as the faces on Mount Rushmore.
Phillips, though, wasn’t afraid Saturday afternoon to let his feelings be known about his game-winning two-run walk-off home run Friday night against the St. Louis Cardinals.
“It stayed with me until I went to bed and it’s still with me,” he said. “Before I went to sleep, all I could see was me on SportsCenter acting the fool — I was clowning, man after that home run — and it was a good reason to really clown right there.”
Asked if he heard much about his demonstrative trip around the bases, he said, “Did I? My phone was blowing up, my Twitter was blowing up.”
WAS IT TOO much? Was it stepping over the line, showing up the other team, rubbing it in?
Manager Dusty Baker didn’t point a finger at his fun-loving second baseman because he says this is a different era of sports, that outbursts and attention-getting are part of the culture.
“I’ve seen a couple worse antics by players against us,” said Baker. “It is advisable to refrain from doing too much. There is a point of too much. You have already accomplished the goal of beating the opposition, so you don’t rub it in or show ‘em up, you just try to beat ‘em again. That’s the goal isn’t it? Not to show ‘em up, but to beat ‘em.
“That’s what I’m trying to teach my son, ‘Just beat ‘em and sit down and try to beat ‘em again.’ I’m old school, I’m Hank Aaron School, which was one of the best schools around.”
Baker said Aaron would hit a home run and tell post-game interviewers, “I just got lucky.” Baker smiled and added, “Then he’d go out and hit another one — 715 times.”
Baker also recalled hkow he would bat behind Aaron in the Atlanta lineup, “To protect him. That was like protecting a bazooka with a BB-gun.”
ROOKIE SHORTSTOP Zack Cozart looks around the infield and sees a Gold Glove third baseman to his right, a Gold Glove second baseman to his left and an MVP at first base.
Phillips, though, had some advice for Cozart and said, “I told him to be himself and I’ll adapt to him. Just be comfortable the best way you know how.
“He seems like a confident, laid-back person and he just needs to play the game,” said Phillips. “Like Jay Bruce said a long time ago — and I couldn’t believe he said it — this is just a higher minor-league.”
COZART HAD THREE hits Friday and is hitting .381 since his July 7 call-up, but he wasn’t in Saturday’s lineup. Baker was asked if he wasn’t tempted to ride the hot bat.
“No, no, not at all,” he said. “As I always say, I try to match up guys who have the best chance and that’s what I’m doing against Chris Carpenter. If you’ve never faced Carpenter, and Cozart hasn’t, well, that guy can carve you up. Edgar Renteria knows him.”
And what Renteria knows is that he is 3 for 18 for his career against Carpenter, but Baker said, “Cozart will be back in there (Sunday).
“I love what Cozart is doing and we liked him this spring,” Baker added. “It was just a matter of when. He is improving, showing improvement. He has good aptitude and his time in Triple-A was necessary because what did he hit in Triple-A last year, like .250-something?” He hit .255.
“That’s why you break them in, protect them, until they can help us and help themselves until you think they are in a position to play every day,” said Baker.
BEFORE PHILLIPS talked about his home run Saturday, pitcher Dontrelle Willis was at his locker, begging him to sign the scorecard from the first game Willis pitched for the Reds in Milwaukee. Phillips gave him some grief before grabbing the pen and saying, “Man, Dontrelle Willis wants my autograph. My life is complete.”
If there is one guy who smiles as much and talks as much as Phillips, it is Willis.
“Does he bring energy to this team? Huh. Energy isn’t the word,” said Phillips. “Just hearing him on the bench, man, he keeps everybody in the game and is a great motivational part of the team. That guy never shuts up and I love it. I still talk more than him, though.”
Phillips said that before he went to the plate Friday he told Willis, “I’m going to hit a home run or strike out.”Tweet