Jimmy Rollins benched in Phillies' 3-2 win over New York Mets
The Phillies avoided what would have been their second straight sweep at the hands of the Mets at Citizens Bank Park with a tout, 3-2 victory on Thursday afternoon.
TWO WEEKS earlier, Jimmy Rollins did his penance.
He sat in the visiting manager's office at Milwaukee's Miller Park and listened to Charlie Manuel repeat the only two rules he asks his players to follow: be on time and hustle.
Following his meeting with Manuel in Milwaukee, Rollins said he regretted not running out a ground ball in Miami a day earlier.
He wasn't benched that night against the Brewers, however. Manuel felt he got through to his longtime leadoff hitter.
Apparently he didn't.
When the Phillies took the field in the seventh inning of an eventual 3-2 win over the New York Mets on Thursday afternoon, Michael Martinez moved from rightfield to shortstop and Rollins moved from shortstop to the bench. Rollins failed to run out a pop fly a half-inning earlier and Manuel wasn't giving him any more free passes.
"It's up to me to back up what I say," Manuel said.
Rollins, on the other hand, didn't have much at all to say about his latest transgression on the basepaths.
"Hell, no," Rollins said when asked if he was addressing the issue. "[Manuel] already told you what happened. There you go."
Rollins' nonchalance out of the batter's box and his no-comment, petulant attitude as he walked out of the clubhouse and en route to a charter plane bound for Atlanta overshadowed an otherwise positive afternoon of baseball in South Philadelphia.
Kyle Kendrick (8-9) sidestepped two early home-run balls and won his fourth straight start; he has a 1.23 ERA over that stretch.
Third baseman Kevin Frandsen continued his path toward winning a roster spot in 2013 with his first four-hit game since 2007 with the Giants. Frandsen, who has started seven straight games and 28 of the last 30, is hitting .355 since his promotion a month ago.
Catcher Steven Lerud, or "Rudy" as his teammates call him, got into the feel-good mix. In his first major league start since being called up last weekend, the 27-year-old Lerud banged out his first major league hit, a single in the fourth inning, and gave the ball to his mom before returning to the clubhouse.
Everything was coming up roses at the end of a homestand that saw the Phillies win six of 10 games (overall, it's eight of their last 12 games). Everything except Rollins' running, which stunk something bad from the sound of his manager in the postgame press conference.
Manuel, who said he gets frustrated when anyone doesn't hustle, even opposing players, was visibly miffed that the guilty party on Thursday was the same guy he spoke to about the very topic 2 weeks earlier, the player with the most seniority in a Phillies uniform, and thus, a supposed team leader.
"The problem is supposed to be handled," Manuel said. "I'm willing to handle the problem the best way I can."
Will Rollins be benched for Friday night's game in Atlanta?
"I don't know," Manuel said. "That's between Jimmy and I."
The two incidents this month are far from the only two times that Rollins has failed to run out a fly ball in his 13 years in a Phillies uniform. And Thursday afternoon was also not the first time he had been reprimanded for his actions, either.
On June 5, 2008, Rollins was pulled from a game at Citizens Bank Park against the Reds when he didn't run out a popup to shortstop . . . a popup that was dropped. About 6 weeks later, Rollins showed up late for a matinee game at Shea Stadium and was taken out of the starting lineup.
On Thursday against the Mets, Rollins hit a two-out double in the third inning and went on to score to trim a 2-0 deficit in half. In his next at-bat, Rollins popped out to second base.
Two innings later, in the sixth inning, he popped up another ball, this one right in front of home plate. Although Rollins has popped up 21 percent of the balls he has put in play this season, tied for the most among major league players, he looked particularly displeased with his second one in consecutive at-bats, quickly putting his head down and chucking his bat aside.
Although he was slowly rounding first base when Mets lefthander Jonathon Niese flubbed the popup, letting it go right through his hands, Rollins was in no position to take second base. Rollins wasn't running as much as he was coasting. He subsequently stole second, then was tagged out on a rundown after a grounder to second, when he started for third base, where Kendrick was staying put.
When he returned to the dugout, Manuel called him aside.
"I asked him if he thought he ran to first base," Manuel said.
"He gave me an answer like, 'No, not at the end,' or something like that," Manuel said. "That's all he said."
After Rollins refused to offer up his own explanation, the proverbial ball is back in Manuel's court. He can stick with Thursday's punishment and move on, or he can decide to make a bigger point in sitting Rollins on Friday, too.
"I guess I handle it the way I want to handle it," Manuel said. "That's the way I look at it. Can I handle it? I don't know. We'll see. I just got to a place where it's a reflection on myself. It's a reflection on our team. It reflects on our organization."