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10/18/09 8:33 PM ET
Phillies would welcome a Rollins breakout
Shortstop scuffling atop defending champions' lineup
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Jimmy Rollins relishes the big moments in baseball.
The Phillies could have used a little more offense Friday.
They could have used a little more Rollins.
Rollins entered Game 3 hitting .111 (1-for-9) with one run scored and one strikeout in the NLCS, and .214 (6-for-28) with one double, two runs scored and six strikeouts in the entire postseason. Rollins, the Phillies' leadoff hitter, ranked just sixth on the team in runs scored.
"Actually, from what I've seen, they're pitching him pretty tough," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said before Game 3. "At times he really works the count pretty good. He takes pitches. But the Dodgers have been getting ahead of him, and they've been throwing a lot of slow stuff. The other day I felt like [Dodgers right-hander Vicente] Padilla was aggressive with him, and he moved the ball in and out on him, and he made some real good pitches on Jimmy. I mean, they've been pitching Jimmy pretty tough. He'll be all right."
Phillies hitting coach Milt Thompson agreed.
Rollins will be OK. But right now, Thompson said, Rollins "is hooking everything. He's trying to pull everything instead of working up the middle. Just work up the middle. That's the key."
The Phillies were 89-66 this season when Rollins played. They were 61-19 (.763) when he scored a run and 28-47 (.373) when he did not score a run. The Phillies are 482-221 (.686) when he has scored a run in his career, and 268-435 (.381) when he has not.
The team's record when Rollins scores a run often is overstated. For example, the Phillies are 40-11 (.784) this season when Pedro Feliz scores a run, 21-6 (.778) when Carlos Ruiz scores a run and 9-4 (.692) when Eric Bruntlett scores a run.
It isn't so much the fact that the Phillies typically win when Rollins scores -- they typically win when any player scores -- but because he is at the top of the lineup he has the most opportunities to score. They need him to get on base, and take advantage.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.