ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) The Los Angeles Angels acquired infielder Brandon Phillips from the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night, swinging their second trade of the day to add veteran hitters for their playoff push.
The Angels also acquired four-time All-Star outfielder Justin Upton from Detroit. With a new second baseman and a new left fielder, Los Angeles has addressed its two most problematic positions heading into the final month of the season, and the Angels inserted both into the starting lineup Friday at Texas.
The Angels (69-65) are 1 1/2 games out of a playoff spot despite several major injuries to their pitching staff and one of the AL's least prolific lineups. Los Angeles trails Minnesota (70-63) in the race for the league's second wild card spot, and the Yankees (71-62) are just 2 1/2 games ahead.
The 36-year-old Phillips was in his first season with Atlanta, which acquired him in the offseason after 11 productive years in Cincinnati. He has been solid for the Braves, batting .291 with 11 homers and 52 RBIs.
Phillips was a late scratch from the Braves' lineup before their game against the Cubs on Thursday, and the Georgia native spent most of the night speaking to family members by phone while he considered whether to accept the trade.
''I let my family make the decision for me,'' Phillips said. ''It was really tough to leave the team that I grew up watching. This decision was much harder than leaving the Reds, honestly, just being around the family and stuff like that.''
Although he has played third base in August, Phillips is likely to play largely at second base for the Angels, who are struggling at the position. The three-time All-Star is a four-time Gold Glove winner joining a solid defensive team.
''The dream is to get a (World Series) ring, and that's what I have a chance of really doing right now,'' Phillips said. ''I hope that I can help the team out.''
Atlanta also agreed to pay the Angels $990,437 on Sept. 30, and the Braves received minor league catcher Tony Sanchez from Los Angeles. As part of the February trade to Atlanta, Cincinnati agreed to pay the Braves $10.75 million and cover the $2.25 million in deferred payments Phillips is owed as part of his $14 million salary this year.
Just as Upton should address the Angels' years of problems in left field, Phillips is arriving to fill the club's other perennial area of concern.
Danny Espinosa began the season as the Angels' starting second baseman, but the Orange County native hit just .162 before being released in July. Nick Franklin, Kaleb Cowart and utilityman Cliff Pennington have all filled in with minimal effectiveness.
The Angels' second basemen have a combined .589 OPS this season. Phillips' OPS is .752, and he has dipped under .700 in only one season since 2004.
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