Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto started for the 1,000th time together when they assumed their positions when facing the Milwaukee Brewers.
Phillips was designated for assignment by the Cleveland Indians in March 2006. The Reds traded cash and a player to be named later (Jeff Stevens) to the Indians for Phillips.
He became a starter for the Reds right away, taking the place of D'Angelo Jimenez. Since then Phillips has played alongside 28 different shortstops.(24 different starters).
Votto emerged from the Reds' farm system in 2007 as a September call up. He took over at firstbase on a regular basis in 2008, playing in 151 games. Now, 1,140 games into his career, Votto started next to Phillips in 1,000 of them.
"It's been a great marriage together," Votto said.. "It's been a really nice run so far. He's a real treat to play beside. I get to learn all the time. He's turning 35 this year and he doesn't seem to be aging. He looks great. He's swinging great. I feel really lucky to play next to him."
Votto has been right there to see the lengthy career highlight reel that Phillips has created for ESPN.
"The highlights aren't what gets me. He does NOT miss a ball. He may have missed one this year. He was playing way back it was a shift play where it skipped off the grass. Playing with him 10 years day-in and day-out, the guy misses no plays. He makes the great play but where he doesn't get credit but he makes the routine play over and over again."
Votto has taken throws from all different arm angles, behind the back, between the legs, around the head.
"I came from a school where I didn't understand the behind-the-back flips and between-the-legs throws," Votto said. "I didn't understand that could be a game play but he's making the those plays in the game with the right play in mind. Maybe tho only play is the behind-the-back flip. Maybe the only play is between the legs. Maybe the only way to deliver a throw accurately to a base is behind his head. At no time did I watch a play and thought to myself, 'oh well that's stupid.' Everything he does is under control. He practices them."
The players have become close on a personal level and have even developed their own unique celebration, a flying, twisting chest bump.
"You know Bryce asked us, 'It's not what the game can do for you.. It's what you can do for the game." We're out there trying to make baseball fun again," Votto said. "Our relationship has grown. I care about his success, for him as a person and for his family. That's the sort of thing that comes over a thousand games. He is someone the fans get excited for. They love having him here. It was a little weird in the off season when he was about to go. I couldn't imagine Brandon Phillips in another uniform."
The Reds in fact traded Phillips twice this winter but Phillips invoked his right to turn down a trade with his 10-year Major League service with five being with the same club.
"I just found out that too (1,000 games with Joey Votto)," Phillips said.."That's awesome playing next to J.V. It's an honor playing next to him We have a great relationship. No one knows Joey like I do. We talk a lot about a lot of things, not just baseball. He's starting to loosen up and smile more."
Phillips recalled his first impression of Votto.
"I can't remember a game but I remember when they called him up in September. He hit two home runs. I thought, "This guy will be special.'"
Below is a list of 1B-2B teammates starting together:
1B & 2B, Team
Jeff Bagwell & Craig Biggio, Astros
Lou Gehrig & Tony Lazzeri, Yankees
Ryan Howard & Chase Utley, Phillies
Mark Grace & Ryne Sandberg, Cubs
Joe Judge & Bucky Harris, Senators
Fred Merkle & Larry Doyle, Giants
Steve Garvey & Davey Lopes, Dodgers
Joey Votto & Brandon Phillips, Reds
Frank McCormick & Lonney Frey, Reds