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Giants Release Jimmy Rollins

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Is this the end of a hero’s career?

MLB: Spring Training-San Francisco Giants at Texas Rangers Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Friday evening, the Giants officially released Jimmy Rollins after informing the former MVP that he had not cracked San Francisco’s 25-man roster. Rollins had just five hits in 40 spring at-bats, posting a .472 OPS as he lost an infield roster spot to Conor Gillaspie, Eduardo Nunez and Kelby Tomlinson.

And so now we are faced with the difficult emotional reality that is Jimmy Rollins’s actual, professional dilemma: Has the end finally arrived for the Phillies legend? With Ryan Howard having failed to latch on with a club the spring, the early moments of 2017 are proving unkind to two of the cornerstones of the best Phillies teams ever, certainly forcing them to consider what their immediate futures hold.

Rollins, if this is the end for him, has no uncertainty about the color of his past and legacy in Philadelphia: He is a former MVP, a World Series champion, the greatest shortstop in Phillies history and an immortal name in the Delaware Valley. He proclaimed the Phillies the team to beat in 2007. He hit that 20th triple on that final day that year. He roped a walk-off double into the right-center field gap off Jonathan Broxton. He is a four-time Gold Glove winner and one-time Silver Slugger winner, the only shortstop in the history of the sport with 500 doubles, 200 home runs and 450 stolen bases.

More than that, he’s the charismatic, gap-toothed face Philadelphia fans came to associate with “leadership,” even as his occasional run-ins with Charlie Manuel over a pop-up or two he wouldn’t run out over the course of a season left a subset of fans with a bitter aftertaste.

Maybe this isn’t the end of Jimmy’s playing career. Either way, it’s certainly not the end of his time around the game, as he showed an instinctually deft touch behind the desk during postseason television coverage. And maybe he’ll want to try his hand at coaching one day. Who knows?

The fact of the matter is this: It’s likely that Jimmy Rollins has taken the field and stepped into the batter’s box during a Major League game for the last time, though the hope lives on that he can find a team in need; same as Howard. His accomplishments leave him just as worthy for future Hall of Fame consideration as, say, Yadier Molina or Omar Vizquel, but his place in local history was secured long ago. There may be a statue of Rollins outside Citizens Bank Park one day; there will absolutely be a plaque for Jimmy Rollins on the Wall of Fame one day.

That’s a a deeper discussion for another day. For now, a Phillies legend is a free agent once more, and it’s as good a time as any to reflect on the greatness that was - and still is - Jimmy Rollins.