Friday, September 19, 2014
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How long can Rollins play?

Jimmy Rollins turns 36 in November and after earning the Phillies hit record with his 2,235th in Saturday’s 7-4 win over the Chicago Cubs, a natural question is how much longer can he play?

How long can Rollins play?

Jimmy Rollins. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
Jimmy Rollins. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

Jimmy Rollins turns 36 in November and after earning the Phillies hit record with his 2,235th in Saturday’s 7-4 win over the Chicago Cubs, a natural question is how much longer can he play?

“I plan on playing until I can’t play anymore,” Rollins said after moving ahead of Mike Schmidt on the all-time hit list. “After that, who knows?”

When ‘that’ will come, nobody knows either.

There has been a lot of Hall of Fame talk about Rollins and so much has been made about his production this season.

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Not to rain on anybody’s parade, but he’s batting just .249. Still, his on base percentage is .344 and that would tie for the third best in his career.

And defensively he remains among the elite shortstops.

Listed at 5-foot-8 and 180-pounds, Rollins has shown outstanding durability in his career. He has played 154 or more games 10 times.

While Rollins has been criticized in the past for not always hustling, those who knows him says that the key to his success is how dedicated he is to staying in shape.

“He is very strong for a little guy,” Phillies bench coach Larry Bowa said. “He is well built, takes care of himself and even if he played until he was 40, I don’t think you would see him out of shape.”

What has made it more impressive is that Rollins has stayed relatively durable while playing shortstop.

“He's played a tough position for as many years as he has and to have the success he's had is special,” second baseman Chase Utley said.

Added manager Ryne Sandberg, “Jimmy’s comes into spring training in good shape, he doesn’t take three weeks or a month to get into shape.”

So Rollins would appear to have at least a few years left. Those close to him feel he can maintain his effectiveness. The key will be how well he can hit. Since 2009, he has hit lower than .270 each year.

In his mind, Rollins feels there is plenty left in the tank. 

“You have to be confident in what you do and in your ability, and then size isn’t going to matter. I know for sure, actually, that when I was drafted the first thing that would be said was, ‘Well, he’s 5-7.’”

Throughout his career, Rollins has proven that his lack of size hasn’t been a detriment.

“After a while people realized that I was able to do anything on the field that a big man can pretty much do,” Rollins said. “I’ve always had that view of myself, and without it I wouldn’t have made it.”

And his track record suggests that Rollins could play while approaching 40. Whether that would be in a Phillies uniform, remains to be seen.

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The place for up-to-the-minute Phillies coverage from The Inquirer beat writer Matt Gelb and columnist Bob Brookover.

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