I feel like I have written about 10 defenses of Jimmy Rollins over the last calendar year, but the short stop's wherewithall as a leadoff hitter was a topic of conversation again today, so I ended up writing about why he is STILL the proper choice to hit at the top of the lineup in a column that will hit the paper tomorrow (and the website shortly before). Clarification: I actually think Chase Utley would be a pretty darn good leadoff hitter, but that ain't happening.
Anyway, tomorrow you can read all about why Rollins will and should be leading off instead of Ben Revere. Today, I'll leave you with the Jimmy things that did not get into the paper.
My favorite is that Ben Revere is now "Tootsie Pop."
On whether the Phillies have improved enough to catch the Nationals: "Adams, 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."
On him saying last year that if the Phillies were healthy the Nationals were a second-place team: "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."
On what they have to do to chase down the Nationals: "Nothing. Nobody is in first place. No one is in last place. So, when the season starts everybody is 0-0. Play some good quality baseball, we’ll be right where we need to be."
On the importance of having a healthy Howard, Utley and Halladay: "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 acomplete 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."
On what he would say to folks who say Phillies are an old team and their best days are behind them: "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."
On the young players fighting for roster spots: "They're good. When I was there, we had young talent, but not really the veteran guys who had success. They were going from the twilight years into the light and weren't really able to stick around for this. I was able to be here through it all. We weren't a bad team at all when I came up, we were just third to the Mets and Braves and a long ways back. These guys have seen us win, have an opportunity to make a name for themselves so that when we are gone, they can keep that tradition going. That would be something nice around here. That isn't something we've had around here. Teams have this short span, and then they are bad for a long time. That's not the direction this organization wants to go. We've been there and the fans have been through that, and that's not fun for anybody."
On whether he thinks any of the young players can have a breakout season: "I hope they all do. I hope they all are in the running for some kind of special award at the end of the year. Darin Ruf, what he did last year between the beginning of the season and through winter ball -- 52 home runs -- I wonder what he can do if he gets a whole season up here if he makes the squad. Domonic has had some opportunities, but not a true opportunity to just go out there and play. It's always, 'You can't do this, you can't do that.' Then he got hurt, went back to Triple-A, came back up. So he was doing the yo-yo. Whoever makes the squad and gets in the outfield gets to go out there and play every day. You give them a real look and find out if they can play at this level."
On Jayson Werth's comments that the Nationals are the most complete team he has ever played on: "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."