ALLENTOWN — Phil Gosselin had spent at least part of every baseball season since 2013 in the major leagues. But when he was called up to the Phillies on April 17, it was a special moment.
Even though the tour of duty lasted two months, before he was returned to the triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs on June 18, it left a lasting impression on the infielder.
Growing up in West Chester and starring at Malvern Prep before becoming a hit machine at the University of Virginia, Gosselin was a serious Phillies fan. So naturally, his call-up to the Phillies was an emotional one.
“In some ways, it was better than when I was first called up because it was the Phillies, the team I grew up with,” Gosselin said before a recent IronPigs game. “I went to games as a fan, idolized [Chase] Utley, [Jimmy] Rollins, and [Ryan] Howard, all those guys, the way everybody else did.”
Gosselin, who made his MLB debut in 2013 with the Atlanta Braves, hit .245 with three doubles and six RBIs in 49 at-bats for the Phillies this year.
Even though he wasn’t seeing much time with the Phillies, it was like a gut punch to be sent back down.
“I was a little surprised when it happened because you never really expect it, but as with most things in life, the way you react to something is more important than anything,” Gosselin said. “You get sent down, but what people will remember is how you handle it moving forward.”
And Gosselin has handled it admirably, grinding in each at-bat for the IronPigs.
“He is a pro. He understands the situation,” IronPigs manager Gary Jones said. “It’s not the first time it has happened to him.”
No, it isn’t.
Gosselin, 30, has played for 11 minor-league teams and six major-league squads during his nomadic career.
“Anytime anybody gets sent back [to the minors], it is a disappointment,” Jones said. “It’s all about whether you are going to continue to work and play or feel sorry for yourself, and he definitely is not feeling sorry for himself.”
In his two stints with the IronPigs this season, Gosselin is batting .313 and has a .427 on-base percentage in 83 at-bats.
Gosselin, who set a Virginia season record with 100 hits in 2010, was a fifth-round draft choice of the Atlanta Braves that year and has played every position in the majors except pitcher and catcher. He signed with the Phillies as a minor-league free agent in December.
Thanks largely to his versatility, he has played in 308 career major-league games. This year with the Phillies, he was used at shortstop, in left field and at third base.
Gosselin knows the drill well enough. He has to keep hitting in triple A to remain in the major-league conversation. He said getting steady at-bats with the IronPigs has helped him get his rhythm.
Gosselin says his stint with the Phillies was memorable, but he isn’t overly consumed with keeping up with them. Yes, he keeps track of their results, but his focus is on being the best possible triple-A player.
“I was there two months. A lot of the guys became friends and the coaches I really respect, they were great with me,” he said. “I want to see everybody do well, so you keep tabs like that, but I am focused here and just worried about trying to play well, be ready if they need me up there and help the team win.”
Regardless of whether he gets that call, nobody can take away the two months Gosselin had with the team he fervently rooted for during his childhood.