Bryson Stott’s Phillies start a test of resilience

Bryson Stott's Phillies start a test of resilience

Bryson Stott’s first big-league game wasn’t just a test of his baseball skill, his work in the infield and in the batter’s box.

It was a test of his makeup, his resilience, his ability to overcome one of those innings when the game punches you in the face in front of 44,000 people.

He passed the test.

« That’s him, » teammate, Vegas homie and best bud Bryce Harper said. « He doesn’t let anything faze him.

« Just goes to show he’s ready to be here and he’s excited to be here. »

Stott, 23, was the Phillies’ first-round draft pick in 2019. He is considered the team’s shortstop of the future, but right now the club needs him at third base.

He’s still learning to play the position and it showed in the seventh inning when he threw away a couple of balls — both times he had to charge the ball — and failed to make a diving stop on a tough but possibly makeable play.

The Phillies had taken a 6-1 lead into the inning. The sloppy defense and a three-run homer against Aaron Nola allowed the Oakland A’s to score four times in the frame and make it a one-run game.

At this point, the crowd of 44,232 and everyone watching at home was thinking Here we go again with the $%#@&% defense. One could almost feel the anxiety rise in the ballpark as the bullpen now had to try to protect a one-run lead.

But the Phillies held on and so did Stott.

Nick Castellanos doubled home a run in the bottom of the seventh to put the lead at two runs again and the whole ballpark exhaled.

Then, in the top of the eighth, the ball found Stott at third base again. Twice. Right back on the horse.

This time, he handled the two plays with ease. Good hands. Strong throws. Just like Puddin’ Head Jones, Scott Rolen and Pedro Feliz used to do.

« To be able to get those two in a row was awesome, » Stott said after the game. « My mentality was ‘the next one.’ Keep everything under wraps and get back to it. Trust myself. I know I can make those plays. »

The Phillies scored two more runs in the bottom of the eighth to salt away a 9-5 opening day win. Stott had his second hit of the day, an RBI double against lefty Kirby Snead, in the inning.

All in all, it was a huge bounce-back inning for Stott — offensively and defensively.

« He says that he’s pretty mature and can turn the page, » manager Joe Girardi said. « I went up to him (after the two plays in the eighth) and said, ‘Outstanding.’

« That’s not easy, opening day, you probably have jitters anyway. You get two really tough plays (in the seventh) and he’s not able to make them. I mean, he didn’t get a play like that all spring. Then he makes two plays right out of the gate the next inning and doubles off a tough lefty. It says a lot about his maturity. »

Rhys Hoskins was also impressed with Stott. Impressed but not surprised.

« I think we learned about him in spring training, » Hoskins said. « He responded to pressure and the expectations of him trying to make the team. But to do it on this stage for the first time. Tough inning, but so what. He comes back right away with harder-hit balls.

« I don’t think anyone is worried about him. »

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