Four-for-Four: The Fight or Flight Edition

2 of 5


Mar 30, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; General view of a base prior to the opening day baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports


Funny how on-field success has an uncanny ability to mask any and all negativity surrounding a player. Heading into the regular season, shortstop Jimmy Rollins had been painted as an enemy and a locker room cancer for nearly the entire spring training schedule. His back-and-forth jockeying in the media as well as behind closed doors with Ryne Sandberg had brought into question whether the manager even wanted him on the team. His .173 batting average and .270 on-base percentage over the exhibition season even managed to look better than J-Roll did in most of the games. In early March Rollins, when questioned about his team’s struggles in Spring, uttered ‘who cares?’ as far as getting worked up over games that have no impact on the team’s regular season record. Rollins and the Phillies might not end up setting the world on fire with their 2014 season, but the 35-year old shortstop backed up his talk in a big way in the opener.

Not only was the second-inning slam Rollins’ 200th career home run, but the four runs it accounted for ended up being the Phillies margin of victory in the opener. Rollins would tack on another RBI in the second game of the series, before missing the next two to witness the birth of his second daughter. In true J-Roll fashion, however, he managed to get the last laugh even when he wasn’t playing.

With Freddy Galvis still on the shelf after his MRSA scare, the Phillies brought in infielder Jayson Nix to hold down the shortstop position whenever Rollins could not. If Rollins is looking for any sort of leverage to convince the Phillies to keep him on board instead of trading him, all he has to do is point to the performance of their replacement. In three games of action, Nix is 2-12 including five strikeouts. He has come up short on multiple occasions with runners in scoring position, and has made several shaky throws over to first base that have forced Ryan Howard to dig out balls off the short-hop. Rollins will return to the lineup for the Phillies afternoon game against the Cubs on Saturday. If baseball worked like the stock market and one bought Rollins low before the season started, his rise in value might shatter records given all the variables.


One of the trickle-down results of Rollins’ paternity leave was a reshuffling of the Phillies lineup. Moving up in the order to hit behind Ben Revere was Carlos Ruiz. The now-legally ADHD drug enhanced Phillies catcher had just one hit in his first two games of the season, batting out of the 6th and 7th hole. Since Sandberg moved ‘Chooch’ up in the lineup, the results have been quite impressive. In the two starts Ruiz has had out of the two-hole, he has: three hits, three runs, three walks, and is batting .500.

Ruiz’s ability to make solid contact with the ball, approach each at-bat with a keen eye and patience, and some deceptive power make him an interesting option toward the top of the order. With another bonus being the fact that he is right-handed, the Phillies catcher is making things difficult for Sandberg as far as what he will do with Ruiz upon Rollins’ return. Even if J-Roll slides back into his previous spot in the batting order, one has to think that there will be times where Sandberg opts for Ruiz to give the opposition a different look. After years of staying the course with Charlie Manuel and seeing very little fluctuation from a day-to-day standpoint, Sandberg’s neverending shuffling of the lineup and bullpen strategies have caught me off guard in a big way. Some of the moves have worked, some have blown up in his face. Finding out that Carlos Ruiz might be more effective toward the top of the order than at the bottom could be one of the biggest finds of the early season for the manager.


For how low-key and private a guy Roy Halladay seemed to be when he was a player for the Phillies, getting a social-media aided peak into his personal life has unearthed a side of the former Cy Young winner we never got the pleasure of seeing. Aside from taking selfies in airplanes, grilling up hot dogs, or tweeting pictures of his rookie cards, ‘Doc’ maintains an extremely personable, fan-friendly approach to his foray into Twitter.

Halladay threw out the opening pitch for his other former team, the Toronto Blue Jays, on Friday night. Long after the game had wrapped, Ian Denomme of Yahoo Sports Canada snapped a picture of the retired-ace sharing a timeless moment with his son. Grab your tissues folks.

Truly a modern-day ‘Field of Dreams’ type moment for Halladay and his boy. The grace with which he his going about his life post-baseball only makes one appreciate what a treat it was for Phillies fans to even get to observe a sliver of the baseball mastery that was Halladay on the mound.