Who knows if general manager Rick Hahn will be buying or selling before the July trade deadline, but Adam Dunn and John Danks have taken it upon themselves to make an addition to the White Sox clubhouse whether Hahn wants him or not.
This new member of the team doesn’t hit. He doesn’t throw. He doesn’t talk. He doesn’t eat. In fact, he doesn’t do a whole lot. Mainly he just sits there and creeps you out.
His first name is Phil. He doesn’t have a last name. He stands three feet tall.
Oh, and he’s a toy chimp.
But if Phil has one redeeming quality, he could become the secret ingredient that leads to a successful White Sox season.
“He’s our 26th man,” said a boastful Danks, standing there like a proud papa.
Talks about acquiring the hairy ape started on May 21, when the White Sox were flying home from Kansas City after a tough 3-1 loss to the Royals. Dunn was flipping through the Sky Mall magazine that was in the seat pocket in front of him when he noticed the little chimp was for sale.
“I showed Danks," Dunn recalled. “I’m like, ‘This is pretty cool.’ Two days later he shows up at my locker. So Johnny got it for me.”
Dunn originally was going to give it to his kids. They love animals.
“But he didn’t make it home,” Dunn said. “He stuck, and I hung it in my locker.”
The monkey had a sticker that said he was made in the Philippines, so Dunn named him Phil. He decked him out with a White Sox jersey and ski cap.
“I had to put sunglasses on him because if you look at him in the eyes, he’s a freaky-looking fella.”
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That he is.
After Phil arrived, the White Sox went out and swept the Cleveland Indians in a three-game series.
Just like that, Phil had become a hero.
But not for long.
The White Sox then lost two of three to the San Diego Padres. Maybe Phil was getting too big for his britches. And maybe he started disrupting things inside the clubhouse.
“There have been some instances where things happened that probably shouldn’t have happened, and he was right there in the middle of it,” Dunn explained. “I just know that bats fall on your foot that probably shouldn’t have fallen on your foot. There have been some other things. His hands go places they probably shouldn’t go and hit you in places they probably shouldn’t hit you. Obviously he can’t do this by himself, but something is going on there.”
Despite these freaky occurrences, Dunn decided to bring Phil on the White Sox next road trip to Los Angeles. He put Adam Eaton in charge of him.
“It was interesting. He was very disrespectful at times,” said Eaton. “I brought him to my hotel room. My wife came on the road with me. He was hiding in the corner. My wife came in later. She opened the door and she turned around and Phil was right there. She jumped and screamed. He’s a nice guy, but he’s got a little edge to him.”
When it was time to go to Dodger Stadium, Eaton says that Phil popped some attitude.
“He said he’s a veteran and he should take the second bus to the ballpark (like veterans do). I actually left him in the room.”
With Eaton serving as Phil’s babysitter and chaperone, the White Sox won two of three from the Dodgers but then got swept by the Angels.
But instead of blaming Phil, Eaton blames himself.
“He had the winning streak at home when we first got him. He was a little off on the road. I think that might have been my doing,” Eaton said. “I think that I might be switched up (on the next road trip). I heard that I didn’t do a good enough job taking care of him.”
Meet Phil. He's the man.. pic.twitter.com/cnlUeKkK3w— Adam Eaton (@AdamSpankyEaton) June 2, 2014
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Phil the Chimp might sound like a whole lot of monkey business, but when the White Sox won the 2005 World Series, chairman Jerry Reinsdorf had a special ceramic statue of John Wayne which he believed helped carry them to the title.
Maybe Phil has some of the same magical powers.
“He could,” Dunn said about his special friend.
But Phil shouldn’t get too cozy in the White Sox clubhouse.
“If things don’t go right,” Dunn said, “bad ending for old Phil.”