There's a popular refrain that's been voiced in the Phillies' clubhouse ever since their pint-sized shortstop won an MVP in the same season (2007) that saw the franchise end a 14-year-long playoff drought: as he goes, we go.
That player is Jimmy Rollins, the longest-tenured player on the team. Rollins is making that mantra ring true again through three games in 2011.
Limited to a career-low 88 games because of calf and hamstring injuries in 2010, a healthy Rollins has banged out two hits in each of the Phillies' first three games, all wins in a season-opening sweep over the Astros.
In the series finale, Rollins singled twice, walked twice and showed off his Gold Glove range at shortstop, too.
"It's been fun," Ryan Howard said of watching Rollins. "I think a lot of people kind of wrote him off a little bit. They're trying to say that he's old, or from last year, he's lost this, he's lost that, people are talking about him declining.
"Sometimes people have off years. Sometimes people get hurt. So I think Jimmy's going to open up a lot of people's eyes. If he just has his normal year, he'll be fine."
Rollins' role this season may be more critical than ever. The long-time leadoff hitter has been tabbed to hit third in the absence of five-time All-Star Chase Utley.
Phillies' manager Charlie Manuel believes Rollins' mentality in his new spot in the order may lend to more success than people realize.
"I think he can be more aggressive at the plate in the three-hole," Manuel said. "I think when he leads off, he's really concentrating on getting on base more than people really realize. I think in the three-hole, he knows he's free to swing the bat there and he looks for balls to hit.
"If you're patient and you're looking for balls to hit, sometimes you're going to walk. It's not like we're talking about teaching to walk, it's about staying aggressive with an offensive mindset of getting a good ball to hit, and if you don't get one you'll walk. But, yeah, I guarantee he feels like he can be more aggressive in the three-hole."
Rollins is 6-for-12 with two walks, one strikeout and one stolen base through three games.
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