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Dodgers' Rollins bats ninth in reunion with Phillies

LOS ANGELES - As the Phillies began their stretching lines Monday at Dodger Stadium, the sea of red uniforms was interrupted by one player in blue.

LOS ANGELES - As the Phillies began their stretching lines Monday at Dodger Stadium, the sea of red uniforms was interrupted by one player in blue.

Phillies players took turns embracing Jimmy Rollins as they readied for batting practice. For the first time, the franchise's all-time hits king was the opponent.

"I haven't thought about it, honestly," the Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop said earlier about facing his longtime team. "There's enough going on around here to keep me occupied.

"It'll be good to see the guys. Obviously, I've texted a few of them. Some of them return immediately, some wait a week or two. But, other than that, it's another baseball game, honestly. Going there [from Aug. 4-6] will probably be different, but being here, they're the team we want to beat."

Said Rollins, 36, "I cut my ties when I did and I had to leave all that in the past in order to move forward and accept who I am as being a Dodger, so this is where I am today."

Perhaps as jarring as seeing Rollins in blue and playing against the Phillies was viewing the longtime leadoff man's placement on the Dodgers' lineup card. The struggling veteran batted ninth in the series opener Monday, behind pitcher Yimi Garcia. Because Garcia is a reliever who would require a pinch-hitter after only a couple of innings, there was strategy behind manager Don Mattingly's decision.

Regardless, Rollins has undoubtedly struggled through the first half of the season. The former National League MVP entered Monday sporting a .208 average, the worst among 77 qualified National League hitters. His on-base-plus-slugging percentage stood at .585. His worst OPS in 14 seasons with the Phillies was .667 (2013).

"The other parts are there," said Rollins, who plans to play beyond his current contract that expires at season's end. "The second half I have to go out there and prove that I can still swing the bat."

Rollins, of course, was asked his take on several Phillies-centric topics. Regarding part-owner John Middleton's public emergence last week to introduce the next club president, Andy MacPhail, Rollins said he wasn't surprised.

"He's a great man. I enjoyed John," he said. "Obviously, you know his fire and his passion, and all he wants to do is win. I've always said if there can be another [George] Steinbrenner, it would probably be him. He wants to do whatever it takes to win."

Rollins was also asked about a potential reunion with Cole Hamels, the Phillies' ace and top trade chip.

"That would be nice," he said. "Cole would be close to home. We know what type of pitcher he is, especially in big games. He wants those games. You have two big-game pitchers that are already here [in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke], so that would be three, and that's one heck of a combination."