Rollins on Phillies’ Age, Chances to Win and Leading Off
Jimmy Rollins is always an interesting guy to talk to and this afternoon proved no different. Just outside the Phillies clubhouse at Bright House Field, Rollins talked about the Phillies’ age, their chances to win and why hitting leadoff isn’t terribly important to him. (Note: In a separate conversation later, Manuel sounds like he absolutely plans to hit Rollins first, bristling at the mere suggestion he should hit him anywhere else. So if you’re hoping Ben Revere is in the top spot Opening Day, I wouldn’t hold your breath.)
Here is a taste of what Rollins told reporters. Check MLB.com later for more:
Q: Jimmy, you turned 34 this winter and you have a gray whisker, how does it feel to be crossing that threshold of baseball middle age?
A: I don’t gray much. But when I do, I make it Dos Equis.
Q: Last year you said if the Phillies were healthy the Nationals were a second-place team. Do you still believe that?
A: Yes, but it doesn’t matter. That was last year. And this year is different. Nothing has changed in our mentality or my mentality about how I feel about where this team should be or will be. The players we have, I like it. I was talking to Charlie, the bullpen is good. The lineup has an opportunity to be real deep. Play some good quality baseball on both sides, the mental side of the game, it’s going to be a fun team.
Q: How big is it to have a healthy Howard, Chase and Halladay?
A: Very big. Those are three huge pieces of the puzzle. But not only that, have Cliff have a little bit of luck this year. If those guys are healthy you know they’re going to perform. Their track record shows it. Unfortunately, when they’re not healthy the track record shows for that, too. But they look good. Chase I knows feel good. Ryan, I got to work out with him in the offseason before we started all of this, he was loking and feeling good, his weight is at a place where his legs can handle it. And everybody is in the right mindframe. We’r e a complete team. We’re not going out there with role players. We’re going out there with everyday players, every game. And that’s the plan right now until that changes.
Q: What do you say to folks who say Phillies are an old team and best days are behind him?
A: Well, half of it is true. We’re definitely an older team, especially when you look around our division. Are the better days behind us? It’s going to be sunny in Philly when we get there. It looks like some pretty good days ahead of us for me.
Q: Do you like the moves you made in the offseason compared to the Nationals and Braves?
A: Adams, Young, and Young, the two Youngs. Unfortunately the one is not going to start the season with us right away, but we did what we needed to do. We just needed to fill a couple of holes and get the other guys back healthy, and we’ve done that. Adams is going to be huge from what he’s done and being able to continue that, it’s going to be great. Mikey Young, he’s just a professional hitter, as Sarge would say. The little man out in center field, Tootsie Pop, Ben Revere, he’s going to bring that energy. Shane left, and we’ve got a guy who can come in and steal bags, so we don’t miss a beat there. It’s different, but it’s a great dynamic what we have now. It’s a good feeling. As you can see, it’s nice and calm. Last year, everybody was uncertain. There’s a lot more certainty around here.
Q: Do you expect to be the leadoff hitter?
A: I expect to be in the lineup for 162.
Q: Does it matter?
A: Not really. In the past, yeah, but I can’t say as much anymore. Whatever.
Q: Why? In the past you’d be like, I’m a leadoff hitter, I’m a leadoff hitter.
A: Which I am, and that will never change, but you are asking about caring, and that part, not really as much …
Q: Is that wisdom? Are other things more important to you?
A: Basically, yeah, that’s a good way to put it. There are more important things, like winning, when you don’t do it for one year, it’s whatever it takes.
Q: Last year you were still the favorites. Now everybody looks to the Nats and Braves. What’s that like?
A: They have some exciting players. They are two exciting teams. They needed something to talk about, and they have that excitement with the moves they made. They were first and second in the division last year. They deserve the talk.
Q: Werth says the Nats are maybe the most complete team on paper. Do you agree?
A: He’s probably right. We had some teams here that found ways to win, but we were by no means a complete team. We found ways to get the job done, to compensate for our shortcomings. He’s over there, he knows his players, the talent level. He should be excited.
Q: So you’re a team that needs a lot of things to go right?
A: That’s 30 teams. Thirty teams need things to go right.
Q: With Doc, Chase and Chooch free agents, do you think this is your last best shot to win a World Series?
A: Nope, nope. Not at all. I’d love to do it with these guys. It would give the team more incentive to bring them back, but I don’t think it’s one last shot. If you know you’re going to lose somebody at some point — be it retirement, or traded, free agency, injured — you just have to find somebody to replace them, or do the job well enough to give the team a chance to win.
Q: Do you think Charlie’s contract status could become a distraction if you get off to a slow start?
A: Nah, not at all. We don’t plan on doing that, anyway.