Alec Bohm, now an All-Star starter, revels in the moments that shaped his big-league path

CHICAGO — Before he hated this place and before he started at third base in a World Series and before he became a National League All-Star, there were 12 agonizing days in August 2021. Alec Bohm lost his job to Ronald Torreyes, a diminutive utilityman whose career was about to end. The Philadelphia Phillies did it in the sloppiest way imaginable. Bohm had no future in the organization.

They kept Bohm on the roster for almost two weeks without him starting a game at third base. There were hurt feelings. One of the club’s mental skills coaches attempted to intervene when three reporters waited to talk to Bohm one afternoon in Arizona. He was broken. It wasn’t even the low point.

And Wednesday, when Rob Thomson found Bohm in the small trainer’s room at Wrigley Field, wasn’t the apex. “You’ve come a long way,” Thomson said. Bohm was going to start in the All-Star Game. That honor means something different to every player. Bohm is a quiet guy who has internalized a lot in this game. He doesn’t turn 28 until August. He has seen things; he batted between Didi Gregorius and Jay Bruce in his debut, a lopsided game that concluded with veteran infielder Neil Walker on the mound.

Bohm called his parents and answered a few messages. He reflected. Then, he went to work.

“It’s obviously one of those things that makes you think about all the time,” Bohm said after he homered in another Phillies win over the Chicago Cubs. “All the games you played. The good ones, the bad ones. All that stuff. It kind of makes it all worth it.”

The game tore Bohm down, then it rewarded him. He is one of the best run producers in baseball this season. He has become a serviceable third baseman. He’s still shy, but now it’s in an endearing way — and not debilitating.

“He’s got a good confidence about him,” said Trea Turner, who will share an All-Star infield with Bohm. “He’s not scared of anybody or anything. It’s not necessarily how he talks, but just how he carries himself day to day. That’s probably what sticks out the most — the confidence in himself to succeed. The moment doesn’t seem to big.”

That, three years ago, is not something anyone envisioned for Alec Bohm.

Zack Wheeler was in the trainer’s room Wednesday evening to prepare for his start when Thomson delivered the news to Bohm. “That was pretty cool to watch,” Wheeler said. The ace was there when Bohm debuted in 2020. He looked like he belonged until, a year later, he did not. Doubt threatened to derail everything. Bohm had pedigree as a high draft pick, but that did not guarantee him anything. The Phillies made him available in trade talks after the 2021 season. They discussed moving on from him during 2022 spring training. He didn’t start on Opening Day that year; Bryson Stott was the third baseman.

All of this is why Wednesday’s news mattered to Bohm. It mattered to the Phillies, who have since discovered better methods to develop unfinished players while in the majors. They have created a better culture to grow a winning mentality. Bohm reached a point where he did not have to look over his shoulder after every error and every strikeout.

This was a collective success.

“It means a lot because I saw where he started,” Thomson said. “I saw his first spring training out of the draft. To see him at that point and to see him now, it’s a completely different guy. Completely different player. Completely different person. I’ve been a development guy all my life, and to see those things happen, it really perks you up.”

Wheeler nodded when asked about Bohm.

“He’s one of my favorite guys to watch,” he said. “He has a good-looking swing and plays hard. He shows up every day and he plays every day. He’s a team guy and he’s a good human. So it’s cool to see.”

Wheeler appreciated Bohm’s swing in Wednesday’s win. His two-run homer put the Phillies ahead — a lead they’d later squander, then retake — and it boosted his RBI total to 70. He’s the fastest Phillies hitter to 70 RBIs since Ryan Howard had 72 RBI in the team’s first 86 games of 2008. Bohm is hitting .299/.351/.494.

He is doing things the Phillies always dreamed he could do. Now, he’ll have a bigger stage to show his progress. He might even participate in the Home Run Derby.

There are people to thank, and he’ll have time for that. Bobby Dickerson, the crusty infield coach who found a way to Bohm’s heart, is one. Bohm had family at Wrigley Field and, long after Wednesday’s game ended, he was still in full uniform because he had to see everyone. He has more to accomplish. But the bad times — like those 12 days in August 2021 — have shaped him.

“It’s all part of it, yeah,” Bohm said. “Good times, bad times, all that. You play baseball long enough, it’s not always going to be pretty. A lot of those failures are teaching moments too. Little ways to make yourself better in the long run. All of it’s kind of happened exactly how it should. It’s brought me to where I am today.”

Thomson could feel it as he relayed the news.

“He had a big smile on his face,” Thomson said. “He was almost like, ‘Yeah, I made it. I’m here.’”

(Photo of Alec Bohm hitting a two-run homer against the Cubs: Kamil Krzaczynski / USA Today)

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