He didn’t have to be in Clearwater until later in the week, but Jimmy Rollins showed up at the Carpenter Complex yesterday. Him being there early says a lot.
It says he’s chomping at the bit to get himself into tip-top shape, itching to put 2010 in his rear view mirror.
It says he wants to lead by example. So many of the “kids” in this system undoubtedly look up to Rollins and as he gets into his 30’s, it appears he’s taking that role and running with it.
It says he’s excited about the prospects of the 2011 Phillies club, complete with a pitching staff that is rivaled by few.
It also says he wants to get paid. Rollins is in the final year of a five-year, $40 million contract and is looking to cash in on a fine “walk year.”
You can’t blame Jimmy Rollins for wanting to forget about last season, or for being one of the first in line to see the five starters, or for putting himself in the best position to score another long-term contract with the only team he’s known. And all of this is equally important.
You, me, your mother, we all know J-Roll had a forgettable 2010. He was limited to only 88 games and 394 plate appearances, by far the lowest totals of his MVP-caliber career. Getting to Clearwater early will help him move on from that swiftly.
He’ll also get to embrace the older brother role in camp. With guys like Dom Brown and John Mayberry Jr. looking to take the next step forward, it’s nice to have a presence like Rollins there. Maybe Young James understands there is knowledge to impart upon these young men.
But maybe, above all, Rollins knows there may not be another opportunity to make big money beyond this season. At 32, and with legs that have failed him recently, it’s possible that J-Roll is on the downswing of his career, the side of mountain where so many stars slide uncontrollably down that slippery slope. It’s also possible that with the proper conditioning, and with an eye on a few prizes, Rollins will turn in an impressive campaign like we’ve seen in the past.
The start of spring training isn’t just for pitchers and catcher after all. It’s also for those looking to take on a new challenge and reinvent themselves at an opportune time. Jimmy Rollins knows this.