Gary Phillips


Gary Phillips is a contributor at The Athletic, Forbes and Sporting News and the Managing Editor of USA Today Sports' Jets Wire. Phillips has previous experience with Bleacher Report, FanRag Sports, The Bergen Record, CNBC, NBC News, NJ.com, the Locked On Network, The Journal Inquirer and The Journal News. A journalism graduate of Seton Hall, he was Editor-in-Chief of The Setonian, the university's award-winning student newspaper. He can be reached at garyhphillips@outlook.com or 845-825-7030.

White Sox's Michael Kopech found ‘inner peace’ through meditation on way to majors

Equipped with a fastball that sits a tick below 100, it’s easy for Michael Kopech to overwhelm a hitter. The 22-year-old flamethrower has done plenty of that through his first four big league outings — though he allowed seven earned runs in, what would be, his final start of the season on Wednesday. Prior to that, Kopech had struck out nine over 11 scoreless frames to start his MLB career.

Despite their similarities, Aaron Boone and Mickey Callaway trending in different directions

The similarities between Aaron Boone and Mickey Callaway are easily identified. Both are former players turned beginner managers, both are trying to make it in New York. In April, their jobs were more or less the same: connect and contend. The Yankees brought Boone in to replace a grizzled Joe Girardi despite falling one game shy of the World Series; Callaway took the reigns from Terry Collins with the Mets still hopeful that their window had not yet closed.

Jason Giambi knows his future is back in an MLB dugout — just not yet

The only team Jason Giambi has any desire to coach right now is his son’s tee-ball squad, but he envisions moving up a few levels down the road. After spending a 20-year career with the Athletics, Yankees, Rockies and Indians, the former first baseman has enjoyed family life in Las Vegas since retiring following the 2014 season. With three kids ages 1 to 6, Giambi is in no rush to get back in the game. Yet he acknowledges he has managerial aspirations.

From Little League to Boston, Mookie Betts' mom has never stopped coaching him

The coach-pitch level of Little League offers little distance between the mound and the plate, but cat-like reflexes are rarely required when tossing to 4- and 5-year-olds. With her son at-bat, however, Diana Benedict was caught off guard. This was more than two decades ago, long before exit velo — not that children would have such tools at their disposal — but Benedict swears it was a "rocket."

Indians’ Trevor Bauer talks pine tar, spin rate, experiments and more

Indians hurler Trevor Bauer made waves last week when he suggested the use of foreign substances by pitchers was a rampant issue in baseball. Bauer, who has always taken a scientific approach to his career, said the implication was based on experiments he had performed to see what substances like pine tar could do to a pitcher’s spin rate. Speaking with Sporting News, Bauer discussed his research and why foreign substances and spin rates are such a big deal.

How Twins pitcher José Berríos got so darn good

José Berríos’ last start was like no other. Toeing the rubber at Estadio Hiram Bithorn on April 18, the 23-year-old had already proclaimed this night to be the biggest of his young career. The Bayamon, Puerto Rico, product was home, participating in a two-game series on the island between his Twins and the Indians. With somewhere between 150 and 200 of Berríos’ closest relatives and friends set to attend, Minnesota tweaked its rotation so that the right-hander could spend his homecoming on the mound.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. defies the odds in impressive Blue Jays debut

NEW YORK — It’s uncommon for a prospect to skip Triple-A. It’s even rarer when that player knocks in three runs in his major league debut. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. did exactly that on Friday night, though. Called up from New Hampshire earlier in the day, the Blue Jays second baseman introduced himself to The Show with two go-ahead singles at Yankee Stadium in an 8-5 Toronto win. The first rip — the first hit of Gurriel’s career — led him to cross his arms over his chest as he reached base.

Tampa native Denard Span at home in Rays uniform — and mom is thrilled

Denard Span was not impressed the first time he laid eyes on a Devil Rays uniform. The Tampa native was 14 or so and the team was brand new to Major League Baseball. In true 1990s style, the Devil Rays’ original home duds featured the team name in a spectrum of teal, green, yellow and purple on the front, underlined by the tail of a manta ray. The backs featured blocky names and numbers in all purple.

MiLB's Copa de la Diversión will celebrate Hispanic culture in baseball

It’s hard to tell whether John Traub is an executive or an equipment manager these days. The vice president and general manager of the Albuquerque Isotopes, Colorado’s Triple-A affiliate, can’t seem to escape apparel requests. When Traub visited big league camp in Arizona, Rockies head honchos greeted him by asking for Albuquerque’s new cap. One Isotope, outfielder Noel Cuevas, reached out via text message, hoping to get a jersey with his girlfriend’s name stitched across the back.

A chat with Godzilla: Hideki Matsui on Yankees job, Shohei Ohtani, and adjusting to America

NEW YORK — Hideki Matsui last played in the majors in 2012, but the international star still finds himself connected to the game. Known as Godzilla during a 20-year career that spanned Japan, New York, California and Tampa Bay, Matsui is now doing what he can to give back to baseball at multiple levels. Speaking with Sporting News, he talked about retirement, working for the Yankees, transitioning to America and more.

Mets’ T.J. Rivera focused on fatherhood as Tommy John rehab continues

NEW YORK — Most baseball players would have a hard time calling Tommy John surgery a blessing. Mets infielder T.J. Rivera has good reason to make an exception, though. Rivera has yet to resume throwing since going under the knife Sept. 14, but he has taken on a new job in the meantime. The 29-year-old became a father Dec. 6. Since then, Ava Rose and Rivera’s wife, Ashton, have kept him extra busy.
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