Nothing to see here, folks. Let's move along.
Following the Phils' 6-2 victory over the Yankees on Thursday, manager Ryne Sandberg made it clear that his benching of Jimmy Rollins was not for disciplinary reasons. Instead, Sandberg said he merely wanted to get a really good look at Freddy Galvis, and wanted to give him three straight starts to see him more.
If you believe that, I've got some desert property in Arizona I'd like to talk to you about.
Taken in a vacuum, Sandberg's benching of J-Roll and subsequent explanation is somewhat believable. However, when you group the benching with Bowa's comments to ESPN's Jayson Stark and Sandberg's "no comment" when asked if Rollins is a positive influence in the clubhouse earlier this week, it becomes a little harder to believe. Sandberg said he wishes he'd used different words when he made his "no comment," comment (quotes per CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury).
"You know, I would liked to have not said that and expanded on what Jimmy has to offer and what he means to the ballclub," Sandberg said. "He’s an important part of the team."
Sandberg did say, however, that he was somewhat bothered by comments made by Rollins earlier this week, in which Jimmy said "who cares?" in response to worries over the team's offensive struggles this spring.
"I talked to him about that," Sandberg said. "First of all, I know and believe that everyone in the locker room, including my staff, cares. I wanted him to clarify that because I wanted to make sure that he cared."
Sandberg heard Rollins’ side of the "Who cares?" story and was satisfied.
"He was referencing himself and where he’s at right now as far as his offensive stroke and what he’s doing on the field," Sandberg said. "So he was speaking for himself, that he wasn’t that concerned with it being that early in the spring.
"I wanted to make sure -- I know that everyone else in the locker room cares. So when he told me about what he was talking about, it made sense.
"Jimmy cares. I wanted to make sure that he wasn’t speaking for the ballclub with ‘Who cares?’"
Frankly, it would take a pretty naive person to believe that this three day break for Rollins was solely so that the manager could see more of Galvis, who has 422 Major League plate appearances under his belt already. I'm not sure what's left to find out there, although I sure do enjoy watching Freddy play.
However, to be fair to Sandberg, it's important to remember that he is a rookie manager and is going to make missteps along the way. Clearly, he came into camp with the intention of holding Rollins' feet to the fire on some things, and perhaps that got away from him a bit this week.
I have no problem with Sandberg benching Rollins, or anyone else on the team, if he feels it's necessary. But not talking to the player for three days and taking veiled shots at him in the press doesn't exactly foster trust in the locker room. If Sandberg is going to be openly critical of a player's actions, then he should be direct, not opaque.
But these are the kinds of things a manager learns as he goes along.
And even though I'm not buying Sandberg's explanation for one hot second, there likely won't be any ramifications in the long run. There are plenty of spring games left for Rollins to play, and he's likely not going to need much game action to be ready for the regular season. The Phillies' chances this year do not rest on the relationship between Ryne Sandberg and Jimmy Rollins. They rest, in part, on Rollins' ability to get on base, score some runs and play adequate defense.
Hopefully, this little chapter of what is becoming a yearly Phillies soap opera between Rollins and his coaches is over. Hopefully, we got it out of the way early this year.
Somehow though, I doubt it.