Monday, June 29, 2009
Rollins to return Tuesday; GM eyes arms
ESPN.com news services
Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins will return from a four-game break Tuesday after being benched in hopes he would clear his head amid a deep slump.
Rollins, hitting .211 with a .254 on-base percentage, six homers and 27 RBIs in 68 games this season, will take his customary leadoff spot in the Phillies' lineup "unless something really changes between now and then," manager Charlie Manuel said, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
"With his speed -- and [Shane] Victorino and [Jayson] Werth and [Chase] Utley can steal some bases -- that's what sets our offense up at the top of the order," Manuel said, according to the paper.
Manuel had said he wants Rollins, hitless in his last 19 at-bats, to "sit and watch and relax."
So Rollins hasn't taken batting practice during the break, though he has worked on his swing by taking soft toss and hitting from a tee.
"I'm getting the right stroke down, which is good. I've been doing very well," Rollins said, according to The Delaware Daily Times. "It's like, 'There it is, you dodo brain ... it took you so long to remember that?' "
Getting a productive Rollins back in the lineup isn't the only priority for the Phillies.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. says the Phillies have been shopping for pitching help in recent weeks -- without much luck.
"We have interest in a lot of guys and we have talked to several teams about pitching across the board," Amaro told MLB.com Monday. "But a lot of it just depends on which pitching becomes available. And if they do become available, if we have the right fits for them."
Amaro said boosting the output of the rotation is key, though the Phillies could stand to improve their bullpen, too.
The Phillies' starters have an NL-worst 5.21 ERA and are averaging less than six innings per game. The bullpen ranks 11th in the NL with a 4.11 ERA.
"When you have this many teams in the race it's very thin," Amaro said. "It's always thin. Again, there were three teams who got pitching last year. Three teams out of 30. That's 10 percent.
"We can say, 'Pretty please can we have a pitcher?' but that doesn't mean one will become available."