P.J. Phillips, 26, was born with a competitive spirit. His younger sister, Porsha, is a former WNBA player who now plays in Israel, while one of his older brothers, Brandon, started last week's MLB All-Star Game at second base representing the Reds. Needless to say, things were competitive in the Phillips household. So when P.J. suffered a devastating shoulder injury with the Angels' organization during spring training in 2010 that forced him to miss that entire season and most of the 2011 campaign, that natural drive kicked in and fueled a comeback that has now landed him with the Ducks. After spending last season in the Reds' minor league system, the infielder is striving to get his game back, and ultimately achieve his goal of playing in the major.
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Tell me about your road back to baseball after your injury.
"I've been out for the last two or three years so I just need to keep playing baseball. I'm just trying to strengthen my arm up, and just trying to get into grind mode after the injury . . . it's been hard. It's been a grind and everyone has their own story like that, but I feel a lot better now. I'm about 100-percent now, so I'm just trying to get more at-bats, more games in, and just trying to get comfortable playing baseball after missing two years."
Ever consider giving it up?
"No. I always wanted to play baseball since I was growing up, so until I'm old or I'm not healthy, I'm never going to give that up. Right now I want to finish the year up with the Ducks strong and play winter ball somewhere. I'm healthy now and hopefully I'll get invited to spring training somewhere."
What was it like growing up with so many athletes?
"Well my oldest brother also used to play baseball and now he's a trainer in Atlanta, so it was competitive. Every day someone's coming at you with something, whether it's a card game or bowling, whatever. Everybody's competitive. Of the four of us, my sister's probably the most competitive. She came up with three older brothers. My dad played football and baseball and my mom played softball and basketball at Shaw University . . . But growing up in my family, you just had to be tough because everybody was good at something. You had to be mentally tough and be ready at any time, and my dad kept it like that in the house."
Is your sister the best basketball player in the family?
"Not hands down. I was the best basketball player, but she can hold her own regardless of who she's playing."
What about having Brandon as someone to look up to?
"It's a blessing having a brother making it in the major leagues and showing us the way and how dreams come true. That's what keeps me working hard because I know it can happen."