Rollins, Amaro: No truth to trade report
Phillies GM responds to ESPN.com story that club wants to deal shortstop
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies had just started batting practice Wednesday morning at Bright House Field when general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. called over Jimmy Rollins to a spot in shallow left field.
They spoke for a couple minutes, with Amaro concluding the conversation with a pat on Rollins' back.
Amaro and Rollins declined to discuss the conversation, but they most certainly were discussing an ESPN.com report Tuesday that said there is strong sentiment within the Phillies organization that it would be better served trading Rollins as soon as possible. It followed manager Ryne Sandberg benching Rollins three consecutive games last week and offering a pointed "no comment" when asked about Rollins' influence in the clubhouse this spring.
Rollins said he isn't bothered by the report.
"Because I can't be traded," he said before leaving for Dunedin, Fla., to play the Blue Jays in a Grapefruit League game at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. "It doesn't matter. I don't care which way it is tried to be twisted or said, or if it is exactly how it was said, or even if it was said -- I can't be traded. It doesn't matter. If I was tradable, it may have weight because that means I could be moving soon. But I am not tradable, and so it doesn't matter."
Amaro repeatedly called any suggestion the Phillies want Rollins out "silly" or "silliness."
"Absolute silliness," he said. "Jimmy Rollins is our shortstop. One of the ways we're going to be able to win is with Jimmy being Jimmy. … We have no intention of moving Jimmy. We need Jimmy to play for us to win. It's as simple as that."
Asked if he believes Rollins needs to be a better leader or if that is an issue, Amaro said, "I don't have any issues at all with Jimmy."
The Phillies have explored their options regarding a potential Rollins trade the previous two Trade Deadlines and again this past offseason, so the idea the Phillies would move Rollins at the right time with the right opportunity is not far-fetched. But Rollins has stated multiple times over the past year he has absolutely no intentions of waiving his 10-and-5 trade rights, which give him veto power over any potential deal.
Rollins said he is not troubled that somebody could be trying to make him look bad.
"It might be a little late for that," Rollins said. "That's probably happened years ago. You're persecuted long before the day you're sentenced. You're already found guilty or innocent by the people, so it's a little late for that.
"Everybody wants to be loved or liked. But good or bad, right or wrong, people are going to love you, and some are going to hate you regardless. You can't change their opinions to swing either way."
Amaro reiterated several times the Phillies need Rollins to play and play well if they expect to return to the postseason for the first time since 2011. But one thing that could be a distraction to Rollins is if he believes the front office doesn't like him.
"Nobody, there's nobody that is upset with Jimmy," Amaro said. "Jimmy Rollins is our shortstop. I'm happy to have him. Like I said, we need to have Jimmy be as good as he possibly can be for us to win."
Rollins had the worst season of his career last year. He said he isn't worried the hammer is being dropped because he is not performing like he had in the past.
"That's OK," he said. "Am I coming off a bad year? Yes, that part is true. I've never hid from the truth. That's OK. They can't be harder on me than I am on myself. It's OK. ... I'm looking forward to a great year."
Sandberg said he doesn't think the recent Rollins stuff could become an issue.
"No, there's no distraction there," Sandberg said. "That's a non issue."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.