NEW YORK - Two things about Jimmy Rollins: He doesn't shy away from the bold proclamations he makes. And, frankly, they usually come true.
On Monday night, the loquacious shortstop dropped yet another prognostication, telling talk-show host Jay Leno that the Phillies would beat the Yankees in five games in the World Series.
Yesterday, even as the Yankees brushed off the prediction as good-natured fun, Rollins wasn't backing down.
"If I say something, it's how I really feel," Rollins said before the Phillies' workout at Yankee Stadium in preparation for Game 1 tonight. "I don't just shoot from the hip and hope things go the right way. I've gotten pretty good response in the past, but that really isn't my objective, to get a response, it's to re-establish the confidence in what we can do and how good we can be."
Three years ago, Rollins boldly proclaimed the Phillies "the team to beat" in the National League East, despite the fact that they had not won a division title since 1993. Sure enough, they overtook the Mets on the last day of the season to clinch the crown.
Before last season, Rollins predicted the Phillies would win 100 games. While they finished the regular season with just 92 wins, they won 11 games in the postseason to boost their total to 103.
And on several occasions this season, Rollins has predicted the Phillies would face the Yankees in the World Series, which is exactly where they find themselves.
While the Yankees hope Rollins is wrong, they also don't seem to put too much stock in his prediction.
"If we're nice, we'll let it go six," Rollins told Leno, "but I'm thinking five, close it out at home."
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who shared time with Rollins in the World Baseball Classic, chuckled.
"That's a nice guy, so at least he gave us six, if he's going to be nice," Jeter said. "I've got no comment on that. Jimmy likes to have fun. He likes to have fun and joke around."
But at least one of Rollins' teammates isn't taking it as a joke.
"I love it," centerfielder Shane Victorino said. "I'm going to follow his lead. If he makes that statement, I'm going to follow it. Again, though, more than anything, it's how you and people portray it, how fans portray it. As a player, I'm like, 'OK, he's making a prediction.' If I don't go out there and say I'm going to win, I might as well not be playing in these games."
For whatever reason, Shane Victorino has played himself into a favorite postseason target of opposing fans.
Last year during the NLCS, he was part of a bench-clearing incident at Dodger Stadium after Los Angeles righthander Hiroki Kuroda threw a pitch at his head. This year, Dodgers fans reserved their loudest boos for the diminutive centerfielder. Apparently, the hate has trickled to New York, where yesterday the tabloid New York Post ran a front cover that featured Victorino's uniformed upper body super-imposed on the lower torso of a short-skirted cheerleader. The headline? "The Frillies are coming to town."
"You've got to ask the New York Post - why are you asking me?" Victorino said. "I don't know why they picked me. I think it's awesome. My legs look good, though. I shower at night. I didn't know my legs look that white."
When the Phillies informed Brett Myers they were leaving him off the NLCS roster, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told the righthander that he still might get a chance to throw the biggest pitch of the team's season. Whether those words prove prophetic remains to be seen, but the Phillies took the first step in making it a possibility by adding Myers to the World Series roster yesterday.
The veteran righthander, who rushed back from early-June hip surgery only to suffer a lat strain in mid-September, looked sharp in one inning of a simulated game on Sunday, convincing brass that he could help the team in the World Series.
To make room for Myers, utility infielder Miguel Cairo, a former Yankee who was on the Phillies' rosters for the NLCS and NLDS, was removed from the World Series roster.
"Going off his two 'sim' games, he's a lot sharper," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "His delivery is much cleaner, much more under control. His breaking ball is there like it was before, but his fastball command is much improved."