ATLANTA — The door opened at 4:23 p.m. and Jimmy Rollins smiled. Charlie Manuel chuckled from inside the visiting manager's office at Turner Field. The Phillies lineup was already made in Manuel's head and it included Rollins even before he issued an apology during a seven-minute chat.
"He walked in there," Manuel said, "and manned up."
A day earlier, Rollins was benched for not running out an infield pop up. It was two weeks to the day Manuel admonished Rollins for a similar lack of hustle. Manuel viewed the latest offense as disrespect toward him, his teammates and the entire organization.
Rollins said the act was not premeditated and he reached an understanding with Manuel. The shortstop admitted he does not hustle on every play. "It just doesn't happen that way," Rollins said.
He does not believe it is an issue.
"There's obviously a spotlight on it," Rollins said. "If I was the only player to ever do that and do that in this game today it would make sense. But I broke the rule, like I said. That was the result of it."
Manuel said he briefly contemplated sitting Rollins again Friday. Rollins figured he would play because he had not made a scene when removed and confessed to the gaffe.
Rollins said he had just emerged from the underground batting cage Thursday before his sixth-inning at-bat. He wanted more work on his righthanded swing because he had popped up in his previous at-bat.
When he did it again, he said he was immediately overwhelmed with confusion.
"The first thing was you didn't get the run in," Rollins said. "Second, it's like damn you were just in the cage literally working on that. How do you do it again? And that was really about it. That's all that went through my mind."
Manuel said he could understand that. But it did not preclude Rollins from running.
"I don't want to try to have to make Jimmy run," Manuel said. "I want Jimmy to want to run. I want Jimmy to want to run because you're supposed to run and you should run. That's what baseball is all about."
The manager, of course, knows that is unlikely to happen. Rollins, 33, is rooted in habit. The Phillies committed four more years to him this past winter. He is one of the best defensive shortstops in the game and above average in offensive production.
None of that, Manuel said, justified what he saw.
"That doesn't mean you let it go," Manuel said. "You don't let it pass."
Rollins was asked if he feared fans will eventually remember him for his lack of hustle rather than the world championship, MVP award, Gold Gloves and All-Star appearances.
"No, not really," Rollins said. "They're isolated incidents. From maybe my third year it was already something. Actually, my first year. Let's be real. It was always something. That's the decision people will make."
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