Rollins shrugs, Amaro fumes over report

Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Posted: March 21, 2014

DUNEDIN, Fla. - Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins was calm, cool, and composed. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. couldn't have been more livid.

Both were responding to an ESPN.com report claiming that some Phillies officials want Rollins to be a better leader through his work habits. Some in the organization want to trade him if he does not improve, the website said.

After morning batting practice before Wednesday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Rollins said he had heard about the report.

"I have a whole bunch of friends who are calling me or e-mailing me, and asking what is going on," Rollins said.

Rollins, who has a full no-trade clause, was relaxed as he discussed the matter and did not seem irritated - for one simple reason.

"Because they can't trade me," he said. "It doesn't matter."

Amaro was more outspoken on the subject.

"It's absolutely silly. . . . Jimmy Rollins is our shortstop," the GM said. "One of the ways we're going to be able to win is with Jimmy being Jimmy. In fact, those are the kinds of articles that get thrown out there: Not only are they a distraction, they're dangerous and they're untrue."

Rollins will be paid $11 million this year. His option in 2015 will be guaranteed for $11 million if he has 434 plate appearances this year and does not end the season on the disabled list.

When asked whether the Phillies reached out to him to discuss the ESPN report, Rollins smiled and said, "Maybe, maybe not."

Amaro was asked whether he would discuss the matter with Rollins. "If we do, it's not for public knowledge," he said.

Rollins had been benched by his former manager, Charlie Manuel, for a perceived lack of hustle.

In his first full season as Phillies manager, Ryne Sandberg did not wait long to send a message. He sat Rollins in three consecutive Grapefruit League games last week.

Like many of his teammates, Rollins is having a difficult time at the plate. He went 1 for 4 against Toronto and is hitting .115 (3 for 26).

Rollins, 35, is coming off a subpar season. He batted .252 with six home runs, 39 RBIs, and a .318 on-base percentage in 2013.

The shortstop was asked whether there is a perception that he is being picked on because he is coming off a bad season.

"Am I coming off a bad year? Yes," he said. "That part is true."

Amaro didn't hesitate when asked whether Rollins needs to be a better leader.

"I don't have any issue at all with Jimmy," Amaro said.

Sandberg said after an 11-6 loss to Toronto Wednesday that the Rollins situation would not affect his team.

"No, there is no distraction there," he said. "So that is a nonissue."

The Phillies deny that they want to trade Rollins, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't budge if he agreed to lift his no-trade clause.

Rollins has said that one of his goals is to become the Phillies' career hits leader. He enters the season with 2,175 hits, 59 behind Mike Schmidt's team record of 2,234.

Still, despite all the apparent turmoil this spring, Rollins has high expectations. "I am looking forward to a great year," he said.

So is Amaro.

"Jimmy is our shortstop," Amaro said. "We plan on him being our shortstop. We hope to win another championship with him - at least one."


mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

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