By GREGG DRINNANTyson Gillies’ run in baseball’s Arizona Fall League is over.
Daily News Sports Editor
Daily News Sports Editor
The outfielder, who is from Kamloops, didn’t put up outstanding numbers with the Scottsdale Scorpions, but he finished what he started and that, more than anything else, was the key.
And the Philadelphia Phillies thought enough of what they saw to add Gillies to their 40-man roster on Friday. That was the deadline for teams to add players to the roster, which protects them from the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 8.
“It’s very exciting, that’s for sure,” Gillies, 23, said Friday from Missouri, where he will spend the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday with friends before moving on to Clearwater, Fla., the home of the Phillies’ minor-league complex.
Gillies hit only .178 and struck out 24 times in 90 at-bats over 27 games. But the numbers weren’t as important as how he felt and how his legs did. His game, in centre field and on the base paths, is built on speed.
“It was good,” he said. “I had a lot of fun being out playing again every day. That was my main focus . . . stay on the field, stay healthy and make sure my body felt good.”
The Phillies acquired Gillies from the Seattle Mariners in a deal that involved left-hander Cliff Lee almost two years ago. Since then, however, Gillies has been plagued by hamstring and leg problems that kept him off the field for most of two seasons. He got into only 26 games with the Double-A Reading Phillies in 2010 and was to return there for 2011. However, the Phillies shut him down after just three games with the Florida State League’s Clearwater Threshers.
That’s why he was so thrilled to run out onto the field in Arizona a few weeks ago.
“Everybody could tell how happy I was . . . just running everywhere,” he said. “I was happy and having a good time just being out there.”
It also was great to be able to stay out there, something he hadn’t been able to do since the 2009 season when he was with the California League’s High Desert Mavericks.
“Besides the offensive part of it, not getting the hits and things I wanted to . . . that wasn’t my main focus,” Gillies said. “But I still had some frustrating times because you always want to do well, no matter what.
“But I had to look at the bigger picture. I’m happy, running everywhere, feeling good. Just being able to play the game was very important to me.”
The Arizona Fall League is where major league teams place many of their top prospects, wanting them to get a little extra work before winter. The Scorpions’ roster also included outfielders Bryce Harper, 19, of the Washington Nationals, who is considered perhaps the best prospect of them all, and Mike Trout, a highly touted prospect with the Los Angeles Angels.
While Gillies struggled at the plate, he felt he more than held his own on defence.
“I played well. I thought I played really well,” he said. “I got really comfortable. I got reads on balls and made some great plays. That’s a big thing. My defensive side of the game is really important to me. I was happy I was able to feel comfortable.
“I think I’m pretty much where I’ve always been. I’m feeling good. I’m starting to feel more like me every day.”
When he returns to Clearwater late this month, he will work with hitting instructors on recreating his swing. He did hit .341, with 17 doubles, 14 triples, nine home runs and 44 stolen bases, with High Desert.
“There were times where I came back to the dugout after lining out or hitting a ball hard,” he said of his AFL stint, “and was telling myself, ‘I’m seeing it, I’m feeling good.’ But when you’ve been away from something for so long, the consistency doesn’t come back right away as you would like it to.”
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