Rollins talks about being benched

Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

Jimmy Rollins got a phone call on Tuesday morning that he wouldn't have to be on the bus for Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Although he had been penciled in the lineup previously, he was no longer in the starting nine. He could stay in Clearwater.

Rollins showed up ready for work shortly after 8 a.m. on Wednesday. Again, he wasn't in the starting lineup. And Thursday's lineup had already been posted, too, with his name absent.

Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg praised reserve shortstop Freddy Galvis on Wednesday afternoon, applauding the slick-fielding infielder's energy and positivity. When asked about Rollins' attributes in the same area, Sandberg offered a "no comment."

Rollins responded on Thursday morning.

"Everyone is allowed to have their opinion," he said. "That doesn't make it right."

Rollins spoke for 8 minutes this morning about his sudden spring training benching. Here is almost all of that conversation:

Q: Why do you think you’re not in the lineup today? It’s unusual for a starter.

Rollins: Yeah, I don’t know. You’ll have to go ask the manager. I don’t write the lineup.

Q: Do you think it’s unusual, though?

Rollins: Oh, it is unusual. Yes, but I’m not going to try to second guess or predict or come up with a reason why.

Q: So yesterday Sandberg is asked about Freddy Galvis. He says he loves his positivity and energy. The next question is how has Jimmy been in that regard this spring and he gives a no comment. What do you make of that? Does that bother you?

Rollins: Well, everyone is allowed to have their own opinion. It doesn’t make it right, but he’s the manager so he gets to have the last say.

Q: What’s your relationship with Ryne so far?

Rollins: It’s good. We talk. Except for the last two days we talk every day. We talk about baseball behind the cage when we’re doing our hitting drills. I let people challenge me throughout situations and have fun. No one has a problem with that.

Q:When would you want to talk with Ryno about this?

Rollins: Whenever he comes to me.

Q: Do you think there’s a method to this? Do you think he’s trying to light a fire under you or something?

Rollins: I don’t know. I don’t know. There’s no fire that needs to be lit, though. Never has been, especially when things count.

Q: And you’re healthy? You could play today?

Rollins: Yeah, I’m healthy. I could play. I probably started getting healthy over the flu about Monday, when I had all my energy back, when I felt like, OK, I don’t have just spurts of energy. It helps when you’re full energized and ready to go.

Q: You were in Tuesday’s lineup, but then it was whited-out. What happened?

Rollins: I don’t know. I just got a call in the morning that said you’re not on the trip.

Q: Disappointed not to play? There is some benefit to these games, right?

Rollins: Yeah, that’s the point. Play in the games, get ready, make sure you get your work in, to get the timing off the pitchers, to see breaking balls from the machine, the flips, the tee, you’re pretty much getting one pitch and trying to groove your swing. In the game you’re working on situations, counts when they come up. And then go out there and try to execute them. Get you ready for the season so when they happen in the season you have some confidence. You’ve executed. You feel good. Now it’s just a matter of doing it when it counts. I’ll have time.

Q: You need 434 plate appearances for $11 million option to kick in in your contract. Do you have fear they might try to manipulate that during the season?

Rollins: That hasn’t even crossed my mind.

Q: You’re a smart guy, what’s your take on sitting out 3 days. what are they trying to accomplish?

Rollins: You have to go ask (him). I’ve never - I’ve been around and I don’t necessarily comment on front office and managerial decisions.

Q: Are you confused by it?

Rollins: I wouldn’t say confused, because that hasn’t really crossed my mind. Other than, OK, I’m not playing, maybe they’re giving another guy a shot to help with their final decisions of what they need to have on the team.

Q: When this happened with Charlie Manuel, when he’d pull you for not running out a ball or whatever, would he call you in office afterwards?

Rollins: Yeah.

Q: That’s how it happened with Charlie?

Rollins: Yeah.

Q: Does it bother you that Ryno “no commented” when asked about your energy and positivty? He could have easily said…

Rollins: Yeah, but he didn’t. Obviously he’s upset about something. That doesn’t mean it’s over the course of spring training, it could have been one specific incident. but he’s upset about it. That's something when he’s ready, he’ll let me know.

Q: On Monday, you told the Daily News, “Who cares” regarding offense stinking it up this spring, that those game results/stats don’t really matter. That story landed Tuesday. You were taken out of lineup Tuesday. This related?

Rollins: Possibly. You got the point of the conversation, and it’s true. ... It’s apples and oranges. No matter how much you want the orange to taste like an apple, it’s an orange. No matter what. No matter how much you want these games to count for something, when April comes around, people aren’t talking about this. People aren’t talking about, ‘Well he had a great spring training.” Maybe for the first 2 days or the first week. But if you start out 0-5 that doesn’t matter. If you start out 5-0, that doesn’t matter because you’re doing it right now.

Q: If he has a problem with you, would you like him to come to you and tell you?

Rollins: I'm sure he will. He's a former player. He knows what it's like to be on this side.

Q: Will this thing work between you and him?

Rollins: Yes. Why wouldn't it work?

Q: We're at the 13th of March and it appears as if he is benching you?

Rollins: That's OK. It's the 13th of March, not April.

Q: Do you expect to play tomorrow?

Rollins: I expect to play every day. But whenever he writes me in the lineup I'll get in.

Q: He said he wants the offense to do better. You said 'Who cares?' Was it too strong of a comment?

Rollins: I agree 100 percent. I made that clear. No one wants to go out there and lose.But ultimately, at the end of the day, what does it mean? What really does it mean? Until April starts, what are you going to do besides keep working? Nobody down here is snapping helmets and throwing bats and cursing out umpires yet. But in April, the very first pitch in April, that starts because the competitive edge comes out when every single pitch matters. A 2-0 count going to 3-0, but now it's a 2-1 count, you're putting the hitter and pitcher in a different position. All of those things matter. Here, you might get some chirping. But in April you have guys getting kicked out and cursed out.

Q: You've had 15 at-bats. Are you behind or on schedule?

Rollins: I don't know. It's really more of a feeling. I was starting to feel good. But my daughter got sick with the stomach virus and the next thing you know, I'm sick with the stomach virus. For the next week, you're pretty much fighting that off. First game, I actually pulled myself out of the lineup. I just didn't have the energy to go out there and take ground balls. Literally, I'm dead. I'm feeling good in that regard. I'm looking forward to getting back out there.

Q: Does three days out of the lineup set you back baseball wise?

Rollins: No. No. No. I'm still doing my work. It isn't at the same speed, but I can turn myself up in the Iron Mike, as we like to call it. Get close. Just continue to keep my hands fast. That's what I was doing before.


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