J-Roll breaks silence, speaks to the Delco Times
Rollins, mired in the longest slump of his career, is starting Tuesday in Atlanta, batting leadoff.
Here's the exclusive, Jimmy on Jimmy:
By RYAN LAWRENCE
TORONTO — Jimmy Rollins said he wasn’t “completely on board” when Charlie Manuel told him it was time for an extended break Thursday in Tampa, but he didn’t see any point to barter with his manager.
“You can’t fight the powers. It isn’t like it’s something you can argue about,” Rollins said in his first public comments since his four-game hiatus began Thursday. “It’s something he wanted to do and something he felt like he needed to do.”
Rollins will be back at the leadoff spot when the Phillies open a three-game series at Atlanta Tuesday.
Rollins hasn’t taken batting practice with the team in any of the four games he’s been out of action, but he has put his bat to work.
“I haven’t been in the dugout (a lot). I may go out to the bench, but then I come right back in and do some more work with flips or on the (batting) tee,” Rollins said. “Then go back on the bench, hang out in the tunnel, watch the game and go back and do some more flips.”
“You get bored, bored as hell. What am I going to do? Sit around and not do anything?”
Initially, that’s what Manuel had in store for Rollins. He wanted the struggling shortstop, who is hitless in his last 19 at-bats and hitting .211 for the season, to relax and get his mind away from the game.
“The first day I was taking swings in Tampa Bay and I knew Charlie might be mad, but I said, ‘Oh well, I have to get my work in,’” Rollins said. “I’m not going to sit around for a day or two, not do anything and then come back and try to find it, not in the middle of the season.”
So, does Rollins believe he has found the swing that largely has been lost since spring training.
“I’m getting the right stroke down, which is good. I’ve been doing very well,” Rollins said. “It’s like, ‘There it is, you dodo brain ... it took you so long to remember that?’”
Rollins’ importance is illustrated by the team’s 70-22 (.761) record when he scores a run over the last two seasons. The Phillies didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard in the first two games Rollins sat, either.
“We weren’t playing well when I was in the lineup either,” said Rollins, whose replacement, Eric Bruntlett, is 1-for-15 in the last four games. “It’s been a while.”
In addition to being hitless since June 18, Rollins is batting .167 in the last month (22 games) and has an on-base percentage of .204, numbers that have put his candidacy for batting leadoff in question. But Manuel plans to continue to hit Rollins first since he did win an MVP as a leadoff hitter and the team won back-to-back division crowns along with a World Series title.
Shane Victorino is 2-for-15 with two walks in the four games at leadoff in place of Rollins.
Although he didn’t use the word “pressing,” Rollins admits he may have been guilty of trying too hard in escaping the longest hitting funk of his big-league career.
“That was a part of the reason (Manuel) gave me time off. He sees me as a I-want-to-do-something type of player,” Rollins said. “Well I wasn’t doing anything (at the plate), so it became, ‘Today I’m going to try to steal a bag.’ But then you’re trying to force the issue and that doesn’t always work ... it’s just, relax, kick back and let it come to you.
“It was a big part of Charlie’s speech. Don’t go out there and try to force it; the game will come to you. If you try to force it, it won’t ever come to you and then you’re also getting away from what you normally do the way you go about doing things.”
Rollins says he’s healthy, physically and mentally.
“It’s just finding the right stroke,” Rollins said. “Confidence isn’t the problem; it’s about getting the results.”