Charlie Manuel wanted to sit down with veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins before the first full squad workout and talk about the upcoming season, including the offensive approach he wants to see out of his team. Manuel called the meeting "positive" and later expanded, detailing his feeling that the Phillies teams of 2007, 2008 and 2009 were more energetic and enthusiastic with their approach to the game. He wants to see those teams return.
"You guys watched us play," Manuel said. "We still like to play and we still like our at-bats, things like that, but 07, 08, 09, those were our years where we had life and energy in the way we play the game, run hard, slide hard, things like that. And that's actually when our fan base got better, and they got better because of the way we played and also the effort that we put into it. I think that over the last couple years wha's happened, those same guys like to hit, believe me, they still like to win games, but they've kind of settled in. We can get back and make it exciting again. For ourselves. And if we do that, the fans will always like the way we played."
Rollins is entering the first year of a three-year, $33 million deal he signed this offseason. Last year, he hit .268/.338/.399 with 16 home runs in 567 at-bats. But Manuel thinks that Rollins, even at the age of 33, has more potential than that.
"He's got more in him," the manager said. "You hear talk about his hitting and stuff like that, the only thing he has to do is, I was telling you yesterday about being selective. If you notice, Jimmy can get in the count 2-1, 3-1 quite a bit. Then he'll chase a ball up out of the strike zone and hit a fly ball to center field, something like that. I talked him about that. Being a little bit more selective, getting a better ball to hit -- what he wants to hit. If he looks for a fastball and it's not a strike, then try to lay off it. Learn and practice that way, and also in the game.
"I want to talk to all of our guys. I want our guys to talk about hitting. I want guys like Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins and Howard and Victorino, I want to have more talk about hitting, talking about getting good balls to hit, not giving away at-bats, things like that. With our pitching and everything like that, we need to score the runs that we're supposed to score. If we have a guy on third base with less than two outs early in the game, we need to score one run. If we have two guys on, we need to make sure we score one run, instead of a guy standing there maybe trying to bust the game open."
As for Rollins specifically?
"I just wanted to sit down and talk to him about some things, and I felt like this was a good time," Manuel said. "So did he. It was good. Everything about it was good. It was all positive.
"We talked about how we wanted to play, we talked some about his hitting. It was good. Jimmy's always been a good student as far as knowing how to play the game and all about the game and I felt like before we got going here that I would want to sit down and talk to him."