Jimmy Rollins wants to retire as a Phillie, but only his way

Former Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins with Phillies manager Gabe Kapler during Phillies alumni events before the Phillies played a spring training game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, FL on Sunday, March 4, 2018.

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Jimmy Rollins put on a pinstriped Phillies jersey Sunday for the first time in nearly four years. Rollins, at Spectrum Field for a ceremony to honor the 2008 world champions, had not returned to the Phillies since he was traded after the 2014 season.

The team’s all-time hits leader hasn’t played since the Giants released him at the end of spring training last year. Before that, he spent 2015 with the Dodgers and the first half of 2016 with the White Sox. But he has yet to officially retire. The Phillies asked Rollins if he wanted to sign a ceremonial contract this summer and retire with the team. Rollins had seen former teammates do that. It’s not for him, he said. Rollins does want to retire with the Phillies, but he has his own plans.

“If I get signed to a one-day thing, I’m playing,” Rollins said. “If they want me to retire and they just announce it, that’s fine. But if you sign me to a contract, I’m playing. I don’t do honorary contracts. I’m going to play that day. I may just run out onto the field and pull a hamstring, but I’m going to jump that line one more time.”

Rollins has a meeting scheduled soon with general manager Matt Klentak to discuss a possible role. Rollins would like to join the Phillies in some capacity but is not sure what role would suit him. He lives in Tampa with his wife and daughters. He’s not interested in coaching but said he could work on assisting some players or on special assignments. Perhaps he can persuade Klentak to open a spot on the roster for him so he can retire the way he wants to.

“You have somebody in low-A ball that you don’t care about anyway,” Rollins said with a laugh. “He’s coming off and I’m going on.”

Camera icon YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Former Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins with former manager and current guest instructor Charlie Manuel look at their phones before the Phillies played a spring training game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, FL on Sunday, March 4, 2018.

Rollins stayed on the field after he was honored and spoke with manager Gabe Kapler. The two played against each other and worked together on television for Fox Sports. Kapler’s a smart guy, Rollins said. And he’s “the right guy” to manage the team as the sport shifts toward an emphasis on analytics. Has Kapler always been this intense?

“Yes. I haven’t seen him as a manager but as a player, everything he did was so serious,” Rollins said. “It’s not like he doesn’t have a personality, but it’s kind of like that Jon Gruden, how everything he does and his eyes were like this, even when he’s happy. That’s just who he is. Some people are made like that and that’s what makes him tick. Hopefully, the players aren’t intimidated by that, because you never want to be intimidated by your manager. But that translates onto the field with the type of team that he wants and the type of style that he wants played. Hopefully, that translates onto the field into the right way.”

And if Rollins gets his way, Kapler will be his manager. Just for a day.

“Jimmy knows that my office is always open,” Kapler said. “Jimmy knows that he can put on a uniform at any time. Jimmy knows that we want him around at any time because of the impact he can make on and off the field and the influence he’ll have in that clubhouse.”

Kingery again

Camera icon YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Phillies infielder Scott Kingery celebrates his run score in the fourth-inning during a spring training game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, FL on Sunday, March 4, 2018.

Scott Kingery continued to impress as he went 2 for 3 with a double and a steal as the Phillies topped Toronto, 4-2. Kingery, who played both second base and shortstop, has seven hits this spring in 18 at-bats (.389). Four of his hits have been for extra bases, including three home runs.

“Every day he becomes more and more likable as a baseball player and as a man,” Kapler said. “His teammates love him. The coaching staff loves him. I think the organization is really, really impressed with the way Scott has carried himself.”

Extra bases

Roman Quinn played shortstop for the second time this spring. … Jerad Eickhoff allowed two hits and no runs in 2 2/3 innings…Vince Velasquez starts for the Phillies on Monday as they host the Twins.