After saying in spring training that he had retired from the prediction business, Jimmy Rollins unretired yesterday afternoon.
Well, sort of.
Mired in an early-season slump that has resulted in his not being in the starting lineup on each of the last two Sundays, Rollins took extra batting practice about four hours before the Phillies beat the Washington Nationals last night.
Afterward, he sat at his locker with a big smile on his face.
"I felt pretty good, ready to rock and roll," the Phils' leadoff man told The Inquirer. "I'm ready to hit .400 for the next month."
Now that's a prediction that manager Charlie Manuel would love to see come true.
"Jimmy will get going," Manuel said. "He's what you call baseball. You don't do good all the time. The game will always test you."
Rollins entered last night hitting .162 in 16 games. His on-base percentage was a microscopic .205. Rollins had scored just seven runs in those 16 games, and the Phils had won six of them. Last season, the Phils were 42-15 when he scored at least a run.
The shortstop scored two runs in last night's 13-11 win, hitting two doubles and a single.
Rollins has fared well in the prognostication department. Before the 2007 season, he called the Phils the team to beat in the National League East, and the team responded with its first division title in 14 years. Last year, he predicted 100 wins, and the Phils finished with 103 en route to winning the World Series.
Rollins made a less-publicized forecast in August 2005. He said he would hit .400 for the month of September. He hit .402 for the month and finished that season with a club-record 36-game hitting streak.
"The last time I said I was going to hit .400 for the next month, I hit in thirty-something straight," Rollins said, smiling.
Dobbs gets the nod
Greg Dobbs was in the starting lineup for the first time this season, getting the nod over Pedro Feliz at third base.
"Pedro will be in there [tonight]," Manuel said. "I need to get Dobbs in the lineup now and then. We need his bat to remain sharp."
Dobbs led the majors with 22 pinch-hits last season, but started off just 1 for 11 in that role (and 1 for 12 overall) this season.
Dobbs hits lefthanded, so it made sense to play him against righthander Shairon Martis. The Nats will pitch lefthanders tonight and tomorrow night. The righthanded-hitting Feliz had started all 17 games before last night and was hitting .298 with a homer and 11 RBIs. Feliz was hitting .467 (7 for 15) with runners in scoring position.
"I'm very happy with Feliz," Manuel said.
Daily Hamels update
Cole Hamels, knocked from Thursday's start by a Prince Fielder liner to the back of the left shoulder, returns to the mound tonight against Washington's John Lannan.
"Hamels is ready," Manuel said. "He says he has no soreness. The reports are good."
Setback for Ruiz
Catcher Carlos Ruiz, on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his right rib cage, was held out of a triple-A rehab game last night when he felt discomfort in the area. He will be evaluated today.
Make room on the mantel
All fans attending tonight's game get a Manuel bobblehead doll.
Manuel had a classic quote in January when he first heard he'd be honored with one.
"If somebody would have told me when I first took this job that I'd have a bobblehead, I would have told you at the time that I'd be headless," he said that day.
Yesterday, Manuel said he'd give the dolls to family members "so I don't have to buy Christmas presents."