Manuel thinks Rollins' power will return
Shortstop's slugging has been down since MVP season
PHILADELPHIA -- With one swing late in 2007, Jimmy Rollins secured his place in Phillies history -- and his Most Valuable Player award. The shortstop dug in against Atlanta's Chuck James and lofted his 30th home run to left-center field, becoming the second man in franchise history to join the 30-30 club.
Since that September evening, though, Rollins has hit just 14 homers in 185 games, including three in 2009.
Manager Charlie Manuel thinks the home runs will return.
"Power's still there," Manuel said. "I'm not saying he's going to hit 30 this year. ... But I'm saying he possibly could. If he did it once, why can't he do it again? He's 30 years old."
Opposing pitchers responded to Rollins' blossoming long-ball potential by attacking him differently, Manuel said, relying on high fastballs -- often out of the strike zone -- and slow breaking balls. Hittable fastballs and hard sliders became things of the past.
"They respect the fact that he has power now," Manuel said. "They work on him more. ... When Jimmy's patient, he'll get better balls to hit."
Rollins averaged 3.82 pitches per plate appearance entering Wednesday's action, on par with his career average. But his skipper sees an over-anxious hitter trying too hard to emerge from a skid.
Once Rollins finds his swing, Manuel said, the power will return. And the 5-foot-8 shortstop, hitting just .228 through Tuesday, has made strides recently, although not without the occasional regression.
"Some nights he's real close," Manuel said. "And other nights he kind of goes back."
David Gurian-Peck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.