Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bunt work paying off for Rollins; Defense delivering

LIVE ZONE: PHILLIES GAME 2

Bunt work paying off for Rollins; Defense delivering

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(Steven M. Falk/Staff file photo)
(Steven M. Falk/Staff file photo)

LIVE ZONE: PHILLIES GAME 2 

We have a new addition to Phillies Zone this season called the in-game blog and tonight, I am your in-game blogger. Read and enjoy.

Defense matters

After watching spring training and the first two games of the regular season, it's pretty obvious that fans of big offense and lots of runs are not going to be thrilled by these 2012 Phillies. At least not until Chase Utley and Ryan Howard return and maybe not even then.

Fans of great defense and incredible pitching, on the other hand, should be happy.

It's not surprising that Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee have come out of the gate with dominating pitching performances and, really, it should not be all that shocking that this team has a solid defense.

As much as the Phillies figure to miss Utley's bat, they are a better defensive team with Freddy Galvis at second base. The kid has incredible hands and more range than Utley. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins has been making incredible plays for more than a decade and he started a game-changing double play in the first inning on opening day. Gold Glove third baseman made a sensational diving play in the second inning tonight.

Bunting practice pays off for J-Roll

Jimmy Rollins said during spring training that he spent more time working on his bunting than at any point since 2007 when former coach Jimy Williams worked with him. Late in the spring, Rollins was frustrated that he had not been able to lay down any bunts successfully in Grapefruit League games, but it has been obvious in these first two games of the season that his work has paid off.

The shortstop laid down a bunt for a base hit in his first at-bat of the season Thursday against the Pirates and dropped into a similar spot tonight. He didn't get a base hit this time, but he advanced Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco and that resulted in the game's first run when Hunter Pence followed with an infield single.

What's strange, of course, is that Rollins is now batting third, not a spot in the lineup usually reserved for bunting.

Whatever works.

According to BaseballReference.com, Rollins' career-high for bunt base hits was nine in 2004. He batted .289 that season, the third highest average of his career. The year Rollins hit a career-high .296 and won the MVP in 2007, he had four bunt hits. He has had a total of eight bunt hits in the last four seasons, including one each in 2008, 2009 and 2011. He had five in 2010 when he only played in 88 games because of injuries.

 



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