Jimmy Rollins has been the vocal leader of the Philadelphia Phillies for over a decade, famous for his proclamation of the Phillies being the team to beat in the NL East. However, the shortstop appeared to have found himself in new manager Ryne Sandberg’s doghouse this week. Rollins was benched three straight games this week in favor of Freddy Galvis, despite being completely healthy. Sandberg’s explanation is that the team wanted a better look at Galvis, but it could also be disciplinary action against Rollins.
On Tuesday, the Philadelphia Daily News featured this quote of Rollins’ response when asked about the team’s spring futility; “Who cares?” It is understandable where Rollins coming from, as preseason success does not directly translate to regular season success. However, as a member of a team that has been accused of being complacent in recent years by fans and former manager Charlie Manuel, Rollins could have chosen his words better. It is not the first time Rollins has caught flak for something he said, as back in 2008 he called the fans frontrunners, and received some backlash for his comments. However, his comments this time seem to have upset more than just the fans.
Sandberg is in his first full year as manager for the Phillies, and he already seems to be sending a message to his clubhouse by benching Rollins. The manager has made it clear that he would like to see more urgency from his players, and Rollins quote may have rubbed Sandberg the wrong way. After Wednesday’s game Sandberg praised Galvis when he said, “Freddy’s a guy that I like in the lineup” while adding “The biggest thing I like is his energy and positive influence, his positive influence on everyone around him”. The most telling thing was Sandberg’s interesting response when asked what he could say about Rollins in that regard, “No comment.”
It is a bit puzzling that the new manager praises the young infielder for his positive influence but offers no comment on the franchise’s top shortstop. When he was asked about the situation Thursday morning, Rollins admitted that Sandberg was “obviously upset about something” and that the manager would let him know what about when he was ready. This is not the first time Rollins has been benched, as Manuel would often bench the shortstop when he showed a lack of hustle or arrived late at the stadium.
While Sandberg did meet on Thursday, it was to discuss Rollins’ “Who cares?”comment rather than the shortstop’s benching. Afterwards Sandberg clarified that Rollins was referring to the fact that he did not care about his own poor performance this early in the Spring. Sandberg wants everyone on the team to care so it makes sense that he met with Rollins about his comments. Whether or not Rollins’ benching was disciplinary or not, the shortstop has to watch what he says.
Rollins is often one to speak his mind, and it does not often get him in trouble, but once in a while he puts his foot in his mouth. It is one thing to make a claim such as “We’re the team to beat” and back it up with an MVP season. However, it would be best if he kept comments such as calling the fans frontrunners and asking “who cares?” to himself. All it does is bring negative attention to not only Rollins but the team as well.
Rollins should be a little more like teammate Chase Utley, who rarely speaks to the media, and when he does he often provides basic answers. Rollins no longer has the benefit of winning to have some of his comments overlooked, and he should keep that in mind when he speaks to the media in the future.