PHILADELPHIA -- Big, bold move from Phillies manager Charlie Manuel heading for Game 6 tonight: Jimmy Rollins will return to the top of the Philadelphia lineup for the first time since Game 1 of the Division Series against Cincinnati.
The Phillies traditionally are at their best with a strong Rollins batting first. But this has not been a typical season for Rollins, whose various leg ailments have sabotaged him to the point where 2010 has been as bad a year statistically as the 2007 NL MVP has had.
Two calf strains sent him to the disabled list on two different occasions. Later in the season, he was bothered by both a strained hamstring and a strained quadriceps.
Rollins is hitting just .200 with a .272 on-base percentage in eight games this postseason. But when he attempted to steal second in Game 4, the Phillies took notice. Even though he was thrown out, Manuel and general manager Ruben Amaro took that as a sign that Rollins was regaining confidence in his legs.
When Rollins stole second and third in Game 5, the shortstop confirmed the initial feeling.
"The last couple of games I've seen him play, he's got more legs underneath him," Manuel said. "His foundation at the plate has been better. The other day, when he showed me he could run ... I've always looked at him as our lead-off hitter, and he's the guy. He's very knowledgeable about how to run the bases and steal."
Shane Victorino, who has batted first in each of the first five games of the NLCS for the Phillies, moves down to sixth, the spot Rollins had been holding.
"It's not that Victorino can't do it," Manuel said. "But this guy [Rollins], he's a top-notch base-stealer and base-runner."
Among the things Manuel likes about Rollins, the skipper said, "He's kind of got a little hot dog to him, and he's got a little, what do you call it, charisma. And he gets over there and starts telling the fans to yell and all this stuff.
"And the more he talks, the more I think he's going to put into performing, if that makes sense."
Yes, it's going to be an interesting night in Philadelphia tonight.
Likes: The scene in Texas as the Rangers won the AL pennant on Friday night. A lot of good people are running that organization, and a hearty congratulations to all of them. Look forward to covering the Rangers' first-ever World Series. ... Nolan Ryan's reaction when the Rangers won. ... The dozen or so folks who immediately said, "Yep, uh-huh, Tom Hicks said the Rangers would win a pennant with Alex Rodriguez on the field." ...Cannot begin to describe the gorgeous fall weather in Philadelphia. It was 60 degrees, sunny and warm when I went for a late-morning run, again down Ben Franklin Parkway, around the Philadelphia Art Museum and then along the river on Kelly Dr. What a vibrant city Philadelphia is. The pedestrian traffic, runners, bikers, walkers, sightseers ... a kaleidoscope of people, colors and activity. And a nice yellow tint to the fall leaves. ... The filet mignon at The Capital Grille (and the Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake). ... Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central finishing their high school football season with a 58-0 pasting of Windsor (Canada) Assumption. On to the playoffs. Go Falcons.
Dislikes: Now, I don't mean to complain. And I say this at the risk of knowing I may sound like a spoiled child. But you get so accustomed to high-definition television these days. And at my hotel in Philadelphia, not only is there no hi-def, but there aren't even flat-screen televisions in the room. And the old-school televisions that are in the room, well, they're small. Smallest I've watched since, like, college. Now none of this would matter. But it's Saturday, college football is on the tube, and I had a couple hours in the afternoon before heading to the ballpark for this 8 p.m. start.
Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Now Texas has gotten a bad reputation
"Because of what happened in Dallas and Waco
"And our corporations well they are corrupt
"And the politicians are swindlers and loco
"But when it comes to music my friend
"I believe these words are as true as St. John the Revelator's
"Our Mr. Vaughan was the best that there ever was
"And no band was cooler than the 13th Floor Elevators
"So screw you, we're from Texas"
-- Ray Wylie Hubbard, Screw You, We're from Texas