Phillies Notebook: Rollins hoping to make a mark in LA
The longtime Phillies shortstop is looking forward to helping the Dodgers get to a World Series.
JIMMY ROLLINS already played through one Phillies rebuild. He came along shortly after Curt Schilling was traded away and a couple of years before Scott Rolen's ugly Philadelphia divorce was finalized.
Rollins made his major league debut on Sept. 17, 2000, at Veterans Stadium, during a season that ended with the Phillies losing 97 games. During the franchise's 132 years of existence, only 15 Phillies teams have finished with more defeats.
Rollins jokingly tried to separate himself from that Terry Francona-led team yesterday.
"Two weeks, bro," Rollins said.
Rollins would have been just fine sticking around for another season with the Phillies in 2015. In October, he told GM Ruben Amaro Jr. he wanted to honor his contract. But when reality sunk in and he saw an opportunity to make a run at another championship, Rollins was ready for a cross-country trek to Los Angeles.
"It's west [coast], one," Rollins said in a teleconference with Phillies beat writers yesterday, his first comments since being traded to the Dodgers earlier in the day. "But most importantly, they're like where we were in our run. Maybe even slightly younger than when we were in the middle of our run. They have a great staff. They have a team over here that is built to win right now. And that's what is important, going out there every day knowing that you're going to compete with a chance to win - and not just win April through September, but a chance to win October."
In 2 months, Rollins will join fellow MVP Clayton Kershaw, Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke and his new Dodgers teammates when spring training begins in Glendale, Ariz.
A native of Alameda, Calif., a suburb of Oakland, Rollins was ready for the move back to the West Coast, even if it means having to find new homes in Arizona (for spring training) and in LA, too. Chase Utley, a southern California native, has been texting Rollins with real-estate help during the last week, when the trade was agreed upon but not yet official.
Rollins, who has been spending his offseason in Tampa, also has let himself wonder what he'll look like in a new uniform.
But it'll be hard to hang up the old one for good, too. Entering the final year of his contract, Rollins began to face the reality that he might not finish his career with the Phillies, the only team he's ever played for.
"I asked a lot of questions about it to my agent and family members knowing this day was going come whether it was now or next year - the possibility of me having to switch teams is real," Rollins said. "I just kind of looked at the guys that I grew up watching - 49ers great Joe Montana. As great as he was, there eventually came a point that it was Steve Young's turn. When he left, I don't think it hurt his legacy.
"I hope to accomplish a number of more things in whatever uniform I'm wearing, but my career and accomplishments and me becoming who I am all happened in one uniform."
Rollins will welcome his old teammates (well, at least the ones who will still be around) when the Phillies visit Dodger Stadium in early July. A month later, he'll have his South Philly homecoming when LA arrives at Citizens Bank Park for a three-game series (Aug. 4-6).
Soon enough, Rollins will have a spot reserved for a him at Ashburn Alley, home of the Phillies' Wall of Fame. Maybe his No. 11 will be retired one day along the outfield wall at Citizens Bank Park, too, an honor reserved only for Hall of Famers.
In leaving Philly, Rollins will have the opportunity to get his second ring and bolster his resume in a big-market team, too.
"I didn't really put it in that context, but winning always helps," Rollins said of his Hall of Fame chances. "You don't necessarily have to win to get in, but winning always helps."
Yesterday, Rollins was asked about the possibility of succeeding Derek Jeter in New York. Earlier this offseason, a report surfaced that the Yankees had inquired about Rollins' availability.
"If I had been 10 years younger," Rollins said, "then, yeah, it'd make perfect sense to me to go there and have a lot of time to . . . you never would forget about Derek Jeter, but to come in and make a mark, after Derek Jeter, you can only do that if you're there for a significant amount of time.
"Also, the Yankees, they beat us in 2009. They have a recent World Series. The Dodgers, if I'm correct, the last time were in the World Series was when they won the one that broke my heart back in 1988 [beating the hometown Oakland Athletics]. They do have the history like the Yankees do, but they haven't won a World Series in a long time. So that's a new challenge, something that I feel that hopefully we can accomplish and I can be a part of, another drought being broken."