Phillips Thriving in Lansing

Paul Phillips is in an interesting situation. He wants to get away from home, but for all the right reasons. Phillips, who hails from Blissfield Michigan, is pitching in his home state. However, the goal for him is to leave Michigan as soon as possible and head south to Dunedin, Florida. A month into that season, that goal is getting closer and closer.

Phillips recalled a conversation with his father towards the end of spring training when the right-hander found out he would be pitching for the Lugnuts.

"I could tell my dad was very happy," Phillips told InsideTheDome reporter Chad Hillman. "I know baseball wise he wanted me to start out as high as possible, but ‘dad wise' he wanted me to come home."

Phillips enjoys pitching in his home state. It's not everyday in professional baseball that you can look up in the stands and see a familiar face, whether a family member or a friend from college.

"I didn't have that home factor last season with Auburn, and wouldn't have it in Dunedin either," say's Phillips. "It's nice to have that little home factor here. I don't think there are many people that can say their family got a chance to see them play professional baseball up close on a regular basis."

The home cooking is nice, but Phillips doesn't want to get too attached to it.

"I'm happy for all that, but at the same time, I want to leave as quickly as possible," Phillips said breaking a smile.

Phillips however is realistic about a promotion and understands it's not always how good he performs that will result in a promotion, but the number game also plays a factor.

"If everyone ahead of you does well, then how far can you go," said Phillips. "I'd like to move up obviously, but I just want to have a good and consistent season."

Phillips is in a unique position this season as the closer for the Lugnuts. The team has a powerful offensive club, and most of the times their wins don't involve a save situation. That issue does not matter to Phillips, who just wants to pitch on a regular basis, get his work in, and be consistent.

"Closers are measured by saves, but the team is judged by wins," said the right-hander. "I have thrown plenty and am staying sharp.

Phillips slipped down in the 2005 draft because of arm trouble, however, he was healthy when he was drafted. Although he began the 2006 season on the disabled list, Phillips notes it was not a serious injury and not related to his surgery of a few years back.

"It was a fluke thing," Phillips said referring to his injury this past spring. "I showed up at spring training feeling great. I had my arm worked out as much as I wanted to, and was feeling really good."

Phillips threw four bullpen sessions in seven days and after that last bullpen he woke up the next morning with tightness in his bicep.

"I rehabbed it in Dunedin, and haven't felt it since."

Phillips is a power pitcher on the mound, with his main pitches being a fastball and a slider. Phillips also possesses a changeup in his arsenal, however, it ranks as his No. 3 pitch, and a pitch he is looking to improve this season.

He can throw his fastball as high as 95 MPH but normally works in the 91-93 MPH range.

"I'm definitely going to keep working on the changeup. It's a good pitch for me, especially against lefties. It's as effective as my slider is to right-handed hitters."

Phillips used to have a split-finger fastball that he used in college, but after coming to the Blue Jays they decided to scrap the pitch from his repertoire.

"It needed more work so we kind of banged that once I got here."

Phillips is not forgetting about the pitch and would like to continue to work on it later in his career.

"If I can add that in, then all my other pitches are right where I want them."


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