Justin Bour takes lessons learned from Ichiro, others into new role with Phillies

Justin Bour takes lessons learned from Ichiro, others into new role with Phillies

SAN DIEGO — Justin Bour boarded a 5 a.m. flight in Miami for a cross-country flight to San Diego on Saturday morning.

Yeah, it made for a long day but it was well worth it for a journey to first place.

“This is why you play the game of baseball,” the newest Phillie said upon arriving in the clubhouse before Saturday night’s game against the Padres. “You play the game of baseball for these last couple months where you’re making a playoff push and you’re playing meaningful games. It’s definitely a change of pace that I’m very much looking forward to.”

The Phillies acquired Bour, a 30-year-old, left-handed power hitter, from the Miami Marlins for minor-league pitcher McKenzie Mills on Friday.

Bour hit .227 with 19 homers, 54 RBIs and a .759 OPS for Miami this season. Four of those homers came against the Phillies. Last season, he hit .289 with 25 homers and 83 RBIs.

Bour had been a regular in Miami, but the Phillies will use him as a “weapon” off the bench, to use manager Gabe Kapler’s description (see story).

That’s OK with Bour, who went from 23 games under .500 and last place in the NL East to first place in the division with the trade.

“I’m excited to be here,” Bour said. “There’s a great vibe here.

“They’ve been great communicating with me, letting me know what my role is. All I want to do is come in and help the team win, if that’s as a bench guy or playing here and there, whatever the team needs to win, I’m all in on that.”

Bour has a pretty good idea of how a pinch-hitter should operate. He is 14 for 56 (.250) with five homers, 17 RBIs, 10 walks and a .894 OPS in his career as a pinch-hitter. He’s also watched former teammates like Ichiro Suzuki and Jeff Mathis handle the role.

“I’ve learned from some greats,” Bour said. “You can’t compare yourself to Ichiro, but I sort of watched how he continually moved, continually was stretching, stuff like that. 

"I’d say the best piece of advice I got was from Jeff Mathis. He taught me to watch the game, see what was going on, think ahead of the bench coach, think ahead of those guys, always be ready and never find yourself in a situation where you’re being ambushed, and always be ready to go.

“I’m excited to help out any way I can.”

Bour has put up some big numbers in his career against the NL East, and that did not go unnoticed by the Phillies front office when it claimed Bour on waivers and pursued a deal.

Against Atlanta, he has a .302 batting average, 13 homers, 42 RBIs and a 1.023 OPS. Against the Mets, he has a .276 batting average, 9 homers, 29 RBIs and a .870 OPS. Against Washington, he has a .232 batting average with 11 homers, 37 RBIs and a .745 OPS.

The Phillies have 10 games remaining against the Mets, nine against the Nationals and seven against Atlanta.

More on the Phillies

A peek at Phillies' potential roster as two players head to injured list

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A peek at Phillies' potential roster as two players head to injured list

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies on Tuesday offered a couple of clues as to what their opening day roster will look like when they confirmed that outfielder Roman Quinn and reliever Tommy Hunter would begin the season on the 10-day injured list.

Quinn suffered an oblique strain early in camp and only began swinging a bat in recent days.

Hunter is recovering from a mild flexor strain in his right arm.

The Phillies will open their season a week from Thursday against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park.

Things are always subject to change, of course, but here’s what we know about the roster nine days before the season opener:

Starting pitchers

Aaron Nola will get the ball on opening day. Jake Arrieta, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin and Vince Velasquez will round out the five-man rotation to start the season. However, it’s possible that someone like Velasquez could initially be used out of the bullpen because off days would allow the Phils to go with four starters for the first week-plus.


Manager Gabe Kapler and the front office like to go with eight relievers. They will likely include: Right-handers David Robertson, Hector Neris, Seranthony Dominguez, Pat Neshek, Juan Nicasio and lefties Adam Morgan and Jose Alvarez. With Hunter going on the IL, Victor Arano or Edubray Ramos could get the eighth spot. And, as mentioned, Velasquez could temporarily be the ninth reliever.


J.T. Realmuto is the starter and Andrew Knapp is on his way to becoming the backup. Knapp is having a strong spring and he’s also on the 40-man roster, which gives him the upper hand over non-roster players Drew Butera and Rob Brantly.


Rhys Hoskins, Cesar Hernandez, Maikel Franco and Jean Segura are set. Scott Kingery may end up being the lone backup infielder. If the Phils wanted to add a second reserve infielder, they could peel back on a reliever and carry Mitch Walding, who is on the 40-man roster, or clear room on the 40-man roster for Andrew Romine, Sean Rodriguez or Phil Gosselin.


Did you hear that Bryce Harper is a Phillie? He and Andrew McCutchen, both former NL MVPs, will be in right and left field, respectively, and Odubel Herrera should be ready to open in center field after being slowed by illness early in camp. 

With Quinn going on the IL, the Phils can carry both Aaron Altherr and Nick Williams on the bench. Quinn’s IL stint can be backdated to March 25, making an April 5 return possible. At that point, the Phils would have to make a decision because both Quinn and Altherr are out of minor-league options.

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More on the Phillies

At The Yard Podcast: Mike Trout staying in LA; predicting opening day roster; Carlos Santana story

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At The Yard Podcast: Mike Trout staying in LA; predicting opening day roster; Carlos Santana story

On this edition of At The Yard, Corey Seidman and Jim Salisbury react to Mike Trout's record contract which will keep him with the Angels through 2030.

The guys take a look at some of the Phillies' positional battles and how the opening day roster might look.

Also, what to make of the Carlos Santana story.

1:00 — The fantasy of Mike Trout being a Phillie is over.
4:30 — Trout's new contract shows why signing Bryce Harper was so important.
7:00 — Position player battles.
14:30 — What to make of the Carlos Santana story.
18:30 — Santana story reflects poorly on Gabe Kapler's leadership.
23:00 — Important year for Vince Velasquez.
26:00 — What would be your first purchase with $430 million?

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