Jimmy Rollins is officially back in action!
The former NL MVP and catalyst for the most feared lineup in baseball was back up and running at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night, occupying his usual position in the middle of the infield for the Phillies 12-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
While his presence may not have been needed on Monday, as Kyle Kendrick pitched eight strong innings while Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth put the game out of reach by knocking in 10 of the 12 runs, the game also featured a clearly healthy J-Roll for the first time since early April. When you read the stat line, you will see that Rollins was 2-4 with a double and a RBI groundout in his return. Not too shabby, right?
However, what you won’t be able to see is the fact that he was able to leg out the double with ease, showing the acceleration and speed that makes him one of the most versatile players in all of baseball when healthy. Also not visible on the boxscore is Rollins’s lack of defensive rust that he showed against the Pirates, making multiple plays in the field that would back up his track record as a perennial gold-glove award winner at the SS position.
Yes, it was just one game. But, the fact of the matter is, if you watched the game against the Pirates, it’s quite visible that the Phillies are a COMPLETELY different team when J-Roll playing. That is offensively, defensively, and even in the clubhouse. Truth be told, that may not be a good thing, as changing the dynamic of the team that had an NL best 23-13 record entering Monday’s contest may be risky. However, in this case, getting an all-star shortstop and clubhouse leader back in uniform will most likely help, not hurt, a team that has been in the World Series the past two seasons like the Phillies have.
And to think, Chase Utley wasn’t even in the lineup against the Pirates.
: Ryan Howard knocked in six runs and hit his 9th career grandslam on Monday night. He is also virtually hitting .300 (.299 to be exact). The fact that people still complain about his performance (listen to 610 WIP if you don’t believe me) is beyond me.
: If you have been following the Phillies all season, it’s pretty clear that Jayson Werth’s performance to this point is making the front office cringe when thinking about the trade deadline or the off-season. It shouldn’t even get that far. I don’t know how because I’m not a GM or a master in finance, but if the Phillies can figure out some way to sign him to a long-term deal, they need to do it, and do it soon (shaking money of local trees may be the best option).
: To make room for Rollins on the 25-man roster, the Phillies optioned Wilson Valdez to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. After watching his defense, especially against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday night baseball, I pray to the baseball gods that he clears waivers. Besides J-Roll, not many infielders (including current Phillies backup Juan Castro) have the arm strength and range that Valdez showed in his stint with the big club. After all, defense wins championships, right?
: J.A Happ is not expected back until at least the beginning of June and Pedro Martinez is rumored to be talking to the Mets about a comeback this season. Hmmmm..
: Aroldis Chapman will make his introduction to the Phillies organization this week. However, it won’t be in Philadelphia. The Reds top prospect will be pitching against Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Wednesday as a member of the Louisville Bats. Could be interesting, especially since the Iron Pigs are heading home from a week-long road trip, the finale being a 15-inning extra inning win against the Gwinnett Braves (Triple-A affiliate for Atlanta).
: Between the Flyers and the Phillies both being in action, it looks like the storyline of the Sixers chances of obtaining a top pick in the NBA Draft Lottery will be overshadowed in Philadelphia on Tuesday. Oh how I hope for Evan Turner..