MILWAUKEE — Brandon Phillips is expected to be back atop the Atlanta Braves’ batting order Saturday when they take on the Brewers at Miller Park.
Phillips has missed Atlanta’s last two games after straining his groin while trying to steal second base in the first inning of the Braves’ game against the Mets Wednesday. He sat out Thursday’s contest and took batting as well as infield practice Friday at Milwaukee, but manager Brian Snitker decided to give the veteran one extra day.
“He’s doing good,” Snitker said Friday. “We’ll try and stay away from (using him on defense Friday), but hopefully he’ll be good to go tomorrow. That’s the plan.”
Acquired in a winter trade with the Reds, Phillips has been off to an outstanding start with the Braves, batting .352 with five doubles, two home runs and nine RBI in 19 games.
The 35-year-old vowed to avoid the disabled list after the injury happened.
“I’m going to wrap it up,” Phillips told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I’m going to do something. I’m going to be like Chipotle burrito, I’m wrapping that thing up. I’m not going on the DL, I promise you that.”
He’s had his way with Milwaukee during his years with the Reds, posting a .292 average and .772 OPS in 174 games. He’s been slightly better on the Brewers’ home turf, batting .298 with nine homers and 60 RBI at Miller Park.
Phillips has thrived against Jimmy Nelson, the Brewers’ scheduled starter Saturday, going 8-for-21 with a pair of home runs over the last three seasons.
Against the Braves, Nelson has done well. He’s 0-1 with a 2.31 ERA in two career starts, including a no-decision in his only start last season, when he allowed just a run over six innings while striking out eight in a 2-1 Brewers victory.
He’ll be trying to bounce back after a tough outing his last time out. Nelson walked six batters in a loss to the Cardinals.
“Walks are always frustrating,” Nelson said. “I went through a stretch there where I lost some (velocity).
“You just try to calm down, slow down and not try to do too much. (Catcher) Manny (Pina) did a good job of slowing me down. I battled to get out of it, tried to minimize the damage and give our guys a chance.”
Nelson shouldn’t have to worry much about run support; the Brewers feature the National League’s most productive offense this season and lead the majors with 40 home runs and 91 extra-base hits.
It’ll be up to Jamie Garcia to stop them. The veteran left-hander has had his way with Milwaukee over his nine previous seasons with the Cardinals, posting an 11-6 record and 2.88 ERA in 20 career starts, including a 5-2 mark and a 3.80 ERA in eight starts at Miller Park.
He comes into the game 0-1 with a 4.24 ERA in four starts this season and has given up only four runs in 12 1/3 innings over his last two starts, goes for Atlanta on Saturday.