Bird's-eye view for Phillips' fine defense

Bird's-eye view for Phillips' fine defense

Bird's-eye view for Phillips' fine defense
CINCINNATI -- Brandon Phillips has been praised for his strong defense, but now the Reds second baseman is getting downright theatrical.

Phillips added yet another clip to his personal highlight reel in the fifth inning on Friday night, when he snagged a chopper up the middle and tossed it against his body from the edge of the center-field grass. Phillips' throw was strong enough to nab Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia at first.

Phillips said he couldn't see first base when he tracked down the ball, and he didn't know where his throw would wind up when he unleashed it.

"I just did one of those Magic Johnson hook shots and I just threw it to first hoping it can make it," said Phillips, a two-time Gold Glover. "I just tried to throw it and make a play, make something happen. Next thing you know, I looked up and it was right at him. I was very surprised; I didn't think that the ball was really going to get to him, and I didn't think the ball was going to be that accurate."

Phillips, who had fallen to the ground while making the throw, stayed sprawled out on the grass, still in disbelief, as the rest of the team jogged up. All he could do, he said, was laugh.

That is not to confuse the play for sheer luck, though. Phillips pointed out that he trains himself to pull off gems, and manager Dusty Baker credited Phillips as the best defensive second baseman he has ever seen.

"He does it sort of matter-of-factly, but he practices on it," Baker said. "We all got areas that we can be better and improve on, and this guy is working on it every day, just on everything."

While Phillips has left plenty of jaws dropped with his defense -- a certain back-handed, between-the-legs throw against Houston in May comes to mind -- Friday's play was even more special because he incorporated an animal into his act.

A trio of pigeons made themselves at home in the infield of Great American Ball Park on Friday, perhaps in part because Phillips fed them sunflower seeds in the first inning, calling them, "My friends: The Three Amigos."

When Arencibia hit the ball up the middle, one of the birds -- it is unclear whether it was Lucky Day, Dusty Bottoms or Ned Nederlander -- flew toward Phillips. Once Phillips gathered the ball, the pigeon veered across his body.

"I didn't know the pigeon was going to follow me the whole time," Phillips said. "I thought it was just pretty cool. And then once I saw the replays, it just seemed like somebody added a pigeon into the picture. It was pretty cool. It was like a movie scene or something."