Monday, June 18, 2007

Andy Phillips Poised for Comeback to Yankees

Former Yankees first base reserve Andy Phillips has been sharpening his defensive skills and batting eye while playing second base for Triple A Scranton-Wilkes Barre, so don't be surprised to see him again sooner rather than later.

Yankees manager Joe Torre has taken a shining to utility man Miguel Cairo at first base while incumbents Jason Giambi and Doug Meintkiewicz are sidelined with injuries, but it's a matter of time before Phillips' bat powers him back to New York. It doesn't hurt that in addition to first and second, Phillips can even play third.

Phillips -- a favorite of general manager Brian Cashman after hitting .321 with 30 homers in minor league stops in 2004 -- is hitting .306 with 10 homers in Scranton, solid enough to make Torre forget Phillips' slow start last spring, when he missed critical time while tending to his mother following her injuries in a car accident.

Reserve Josh Phelps, whose batting average has fallen to the .270 range, needs to keep hitting to keep from being replaced. Like Phillips, both Cairo and Phelps are right-handed hitters and both of them are struggling to hit right-handed pitching.