Rollins has all-stars in his eyes

Posted: March 30, 2007

BRADENTON, Fla. - Jimmy Rollins didn't win the Silver Slugger last year. The National League shortstop who did was the Mets' Jose Reyes.

Rollins didn't win a Gold Glove, either. That went to the Giants' Omar Vizquel.

Rollins wasn't an All-Star. The NL shortstops were Atlanta's Edgar Renteria, St. Louis' David Eckstein, and Reyes.

All of which helps explain why the Phillies' quicksilver shortstop didn't spend the offseason hanging out at his home in Alameda, Calif. He spent most of the winter in chilly Philly, in a batting cage in New Jersey, working out with hitting coach Milt Thompson.

"He's on a mission," Thompson said yesterday before the Phillies closed out the Florida portion of spring training with a 5-5 tie against the Pirates at McKechnie Field. "He wants to go out and prove he's one of the best shortstops in the game.

"He felt slighted last year because he didn't win the Silver Slugger, didn't win a Gold Glove. Plus he wants to go home to play in the All-Star Game [in San Francisco]."

Players often talk about how little spring-training stats mean, and that's true even when the numbers are exceptional. Everything will be reset to zero when the Phillies open the season Monday against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park.

Still, it's hard not to be impressed by what Rollins has done in March.

He's batting .386 with four doubles in 57 at-bats. More important, as a leadoff hitter who has been criticized for striking out too much and not walking enough, he has done a remarkable job of working pitchers. He has whiffed just four times while working 12 walks, pumping up his on-base percentage to an amazing .493.

Phillies 5, Pirates 5

Ryan Howard hit his first home run since March 8, a majestic shot in the third inning off Pirates starter Shawn Chacon.

Ryan Howard hit his first home run since March 8, a majestic shot in the third inning off Pirates starter Shawn Chacon.

"That got some attention, didn't it?" asked Charlie Manuel. "I think one swing like that can change the whole attitude at times."

Howard, who entered the game in a 1-for-25 slump, also had a broken-bat single in the first.

Catcher Carlos Ruiz (sore shoulder) played in a big-league game for the first time since being injured on March 15. He pinch-hit and then stayed in the game to catch. Outfielder Michael Bourn had stolen seven straight bases without being caught, but he was thrown out at second in the ninth.

On the first pitch of the game, Bourn smoked Chacon with a line drive. Chacon crumpled to the dirt but, fortunately, the ball hit him in the upper chest and he was able to remain in the game.

The Phillies are 11-16-3 this spring.

Phillers

While most of the team flew back to Philadelphia last night, catcher Chris Coste (strained hamstring) and righthander Jon Lieber (strained ribcage muscle) remained in Clearwater. Coste will continue to get at-bats in minor league games and rejoin the team on Saturday. Lieber will be on a throwing program. It's not known when he'll leave Florida. Both are expected to start the season on the disabled list . . . Righthander Freddy Garcia (biceps tendinitis) did fly with the team but is also expected to open the season on the DL . . . The Phillies will complete spring training with two games against the Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park. Cole Hamels will face Julian Tavarez tonight at 7:05 and Adam Eaton will start against Daisuke Matsuzaka tomorrow at 1:05. "I want to see Dice-K," Charlie Manuel said. "I'm just glad he doesn't pitch for the Mets or the Braves." *

While most of the team flew back to Philadelphia last night, catcher Chris Coste (strained hamstring) and righthander Jon Lieber (strained ribcage muscle) remained in Clearwater. Coste will continue to get at-bats in minor league games and rejoin the team on Saturday. Lieber will be on a throwing program. It's not known when he'll leave Florida. Both are expected to start the season on the disabled list . . . Righthander Freddy Garcia (biceps tendinitis) did fly with the team but is also expected to open the season on the DL . . . The Phillies will complete spring training with two games against the Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park. Cole Hamels will face Julian Tavarez tonight at 7:05 and Adam Eaton will start against Daisuke Matsuzaka tomorrow at 1:05. "I want to see Dice-K," Charlie Manuel said. "I'm just glad he doesn't pitch for the Mets or the Braves." *

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