Rollins Is A Happy Man

by on December 18, 2011

I talked on the phone a few minutes ago with Jimmy Rollins. here is what he said about his three-year, $33 million contract with the Phillies, a lengthy negotiation process and more:

QUESTION: are you happy this is finally over?ROLLINS: yes, I’m glad that it’s over. It’s good that it’s over for both parties. It’s an issue that’s been going on. Negotiations take time and both parties usually get a good idea where a finish line can be. it usually takes time to get there, but we got there.

QUESTION: are you happy with the deal? you had asked for five years, and I also had heard you were unhappy with the pace of the negotiations.ROLLINS: I never said that or even hinted toward that in any way. No, it’s not true. I wasn’t upset at the pace. I was glad it took a while because both sides were showing that they care. This is a business. there is a sports side of it and a business side of it, and the business side of it is always the most difficult part. Making sure that the numbers fit and the years fit and that both parties can be happy going forward is how business is. This is where we both sit and both parties feel comfortable going forward.

QUESTION: Do you feel you met the Phillies half way? you wanted five. they wanted three. but it sounds like the vesting option for the fourth year is easily attainable.ROLLINS: That’s very accurate. The tough part is you’ve got to stick to your guns and they’ve got to stick to their guns. you negotiate. if I hadn’t started so high then we probably would have been looking at a two-year deal with a vesting option for three. People that understand business, they get it.

QUESTION: as long as you’re healthy you feel you will get that option?ROLLINS: Exactly.

QUESTION: Did you ever think during this process you wouldn’t be back?ROLLINS: I never really thought of it in that sense. I thought about what it would be like to play here or play there, but never like, “I don’t think it’s going to get done.” there was never a stop sign like, “We’re not going any further, so think about it,” and then talks reconvened and feelings changed. it was never that situation. I imagined being on the West Coast with my family, my mom and dad coming to every game. that would have been fun, but it never got to the point where it was like, “This might be a reality.”

QUESTION: you had a four-year offer from the Brewers?ROLLINS: it was on the table. they sent over a four-year deal. it was a guaranteed four years. it wasn’t a vesting option to get to four years. it was four years. It’s tough to go to a new team not knowing what the future is going to be over there. I’ve been here for a long time and I see what’s been going on here, especially the last five years. you go to something uncertain, or you stay somewhere that you’re familiar with and you know the situation and what the organization is about. is the money tempting? always. you always look at it like, “Oooh.” but then after that the reality kicks in as far as what is really going on with winning and moving and all that other stuff.

QUESTION: You’ve seen teammates leave the organization for other teams without success. Did that cross your mind during this process, like the grass isn’t always greener?ROLLINS: Not really. I don’t have a problem with change. I love to travel. I love to see different places and learn new things. Change, I’m not afraid of that. we have to think as athletes: I’m going to get money to go there and I’m going to get money to stay here. OK, that’s a wash. where do I have the best chance of winning and to hopefully one day be on the (Hall of Fame) ballot? For me, it was here. I’ve been here and I just feel the more you’re in the playoffs the more you have a chance to be recognized as a great player in the future and hopefully make the ballot.

QUESTION: Do you feel if you stay healthy you can reach 3,000 hits?ROLLINS: I’ve got to get back on that. 2010 crushed me. I should already be at 2,000 right now. oh well.

QUESTION: What do you think about the offseason moves the Phillies have made?ROLLINS: We’ve got Cinco Ocho (Jonathan Papelbon) to close the games out, which is a good. He’s definitely a proven closer, and he’s pitched in a city like Boston, so it’s really no different coming here. It’s something he’s used to. Bringing (Jim) Thome back, we’ve always said we wanted some pop off the bench. No matter what Thome’s numbers are off the bench, when he has a bat in his hands the other team is like, “Don’t make a mistake.” Ty Wigginton, I’ve always admired the way he’s played the game. I hated playing against him. He killed us no matter what uniform he put on. He absolutely killed us. I don’t know if he liked playing in our ballpark or just seeing red, like he’s a bull, but now he’s going to be wearing a whole bunch of red. I like that move. He plays the game hard. From the other side of the field, he does everything he needs to do to win. He’s a Phillie-type ballplayer. I think they’ll love him here. And Laynce Nix, another left-handed bat that can come in and man left field and get plenty of AB’s. He’s a strong hitter. He hits the ball to all parts of the field. And in our ballpark is a benefit. So we’ve solidified a lot of areas I think were kind of question marks. you go into the season feeling better knowing if somebody goes down, especially in the outfield and the infield — Ty probably is going to get a shot to play third and first — somebody can step in and be a Major League ballplayer. Not taking a chance on some guy that you don’t know much about because he doesn’t have much history in the big leagues.

QUESTION: Because of the disappointing end to the season a lot of people think there needed to be bigger changes to the roster, even though you won 102 games. Do you like this team?ROLLINS: I’m very excited. It’s going to be a little different without the Big Piece (Ryan Howard) in there, but we’ve added some guys that play the game right. It’s more about playing the game right and not relying on the home run. For years we played the game right and were getting the home runs. Last year we didn’t get a lot of home runs, but we had great pitching. There’s no doubt about that, but you still have to score runs to win ballgames. Between the pitching and playing the game right we scored enough runs to win. you don’t just get wins by having great pitching. Of course, I’m going to stand up for the offense. but if I have to choose a great offense or a great pitching staff, I’m going with a great pitching staff. That’s what we have.

QUESTION: So now that this is finished are you going anywhere? Vacation?ROLLINS: I already have a trip scheduled to Africa. I’m going to participate in Right to Play’s Pearl of Africa Series over in Uganda. That’s involving the Ugandan little League team that was denied visas to come over after they qualified to play in the little League World Series. … I’m going to go over there, put on clinics, help build some batting cages and things of that nature, just see the kids and watch the series. then I’ll be back in January and head back down to Tampa.

QUESTION: So you’re going to be in Uganda for how many days?ROLLINS: twelve. Yeah, it’s going to be awesome. they love baseball over there. I didn’t know, but these kids can play. obviously, Africa is a soccer continent and they play cricket and all those European sports, but these kids are like … wow. It’s like they grew up with baseball. they understand the game. they understand the concept of a team. And these kids are orphans, they’re escaping the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) and child abductions out in Africa. these kids have had a rough life, and they hopefully have a chance to change their life through baseball. It’s an awesome story, man.

Rollins Is A Happy Man

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