Jimmy Rollins Benched, and Appears to be in Ryne Sandberg’s Doghouse
By Pete Dymeck
Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Clearwater is in flux. The Philadelphia Phillies offense is underwhelming and the pitching staff continues to be assaulted with injury after injury. To make matters worse, shortstop Jimmy Rollins will be benched for a third consecutive day tomorrow.
How is it that Rollins – the leader of the Phillies clubhouse – could be benched for a third consecutive day without any explanation?
Matt Gelb of Philly.com is reporting that Rollins will ride the pine for a third consecutive day despite no indications of health issues. Regarding the 35-year-old shortstop, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. reiterated the point that Rollins remains healthy.
According to skipper Ryne Sandberg, Rollins is “fine.” However, Sandberg had “no comment” when asked about Rollins’ “energy and influence.”
Something clearly stinks in Clearwater.
Spring Training statistics mean as much as an extra calorie means to a hot dog eating champ. But for what it’s worth, Rollins is hitting a meager .133 with one home run, three RBI and four walks. His lowly two hits places him near the lowest echelon for all Phillies this spring.
Everyone agrees: Unless some over-achievement occurs, dark clouds loom ahead for this organization. Maybe Rollins has the foresight to see the forecast. Instead of turning the adversity into ambition, he is simply stuck in a rut, troubled by the staggering task at hand. That is, how can the Phillies compete with the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals in the NL East?
More speculation may suggest this is nothing to look at too deeply. Sandberg has commented that he would like to see more of Freddy Galvis in the field. Then again, it’s not like Galvis is dominating at the plate. Known to be more glove than bat, Galvis is hitting just .148 this spring. He has just one HR, two RBI and three walks. His four hits in 27 at bats don’t make him much more productive than Rollins.
In 422 career plate appearances, Galvis has hit just .230. Therefore, to suggest the Phillies would be grooming Galvis to replace Rollins at shortstop in the more immediate future is near-sighted. Galvis hasn’t shown the ability to hit at an appreciable level in the majors.
Sure, Rollins production has declined. In 666 PA, Rollins hit just .250 last year with six HR. That’s 17 fewer dingers than the year before in just 33 less PA. Rollins also tallied a career-low 39 RBI in 2013.
The dismay at Rollins is stunning. At 35 years old, he is no longer the same shortstop who took home the National League MVP in 2007. However, the Phillies could do much worse.
If anything, Rollins is likely to be toting around a bad attitude at his dismal performance this spring. This lack of positivity could be the basis for Sandberg benching the veteran in three consecutive games. If anything, Sandberg is likely trying his hand at some tough love in order to motivate Rollins. After all, it wasn’t too long ago when former manager Charlie Manuel benched Rollins for not legging it out to first base.
Being stuck in a doghouse is no fun. It’s not the first time Rollins has been sent to the backyard either. This minute complication is nothing significant unless it continues throughout Spring Training. Only then would we be able to hold Sandberg’s “no comment” to the boiler to test its veracity.
Until then, expect the smoke to clear in due time. It won’t be long until Rollins is back out at shortstop, hitting near the top or middle of the Phillies lineup.