It’s a small sample, but Jimmy Rollins of the Philadelphia Phillies so far appears to be the player Rollins wants to be and the one manager Ryne Sandberg does not want to see.
The player Rollins wants to be is the guy whose grand slam was the difference in a 14-10 Opening Day win over the Texas Rangers. The player Sandberg doesn’t want is the total body of work so far, a guy sitting squarely on the Mendoza Line (.200) with a 2-for-10 performance so far.
Rollins wasn’t in Arlington for the rubber game of the three-game series due to his wife giving birth to their second child but, when he comes back, he should heed Sandberg’s advice to concentrate on hitting the ball on the ground and bringing up that average, and not so much concentrating on the long ball. All spring, Sandberg said he wanted Rollins to concentrate on keeping the ball in play and not going for the fences. While Rollins still has some pop in his bat, swinging for the fences is more likely to produce last year’s bad average of .252 again.
Rollins gave a clue into what he was thinking on Monday when he said it might have been nice for his career 200th homer to be a slam, but that’s not what Sandberg is thinking. Rollins is stubborn though, and it’s hard to teach old shortstops new tricks.
If Rollins doesn’t hear that message soon, the already strained relationship between shortstop and manager doesn’t figure to have much room for improvement.