Clifton for the Sweep, Plus J-Roll Speaks

Clifton for the Sweep, Plus J-Roll Speaks

Cliff Lee (9-6, 2.83) toes the rubber this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park and will take on right-hander Aaron Harang (8-2, 3.29) as the Phillies look to continue their hot play of late and sweep the Padres out of town. The Fightins have taken the first three of this four game series with San Diego, and if they can earn the victory today, it will be their second consecutive four-game sweep of the Pads this season.

It's an early 1:05 pm start this afternoon from South Philadelphia.

We thought we'd use this game thread to take a look at what young James Calvin Rollins had to say about a wide range of topics. J-Roll spoke at length with Delaware Online's David Hale about how he's feeling physically, how he's been swinging the bat, how he keeps refueling the tank after all these years, and how he would feel if things didn't work out next season and Jimmy had to put on another team's uniform.

You can read Hale's article about Jimmy or opt for the full transcript of their discussion here.

There are plenty of insightful quotes from Rollins, and we could have highlighted many of them, but Jimmy on his approach is quite interesting.

Q. It’s not that you’ve changed who you are as a player, but
your walk rate is up this year, you’re seeing more pitches, swinging at
fewer first pitches.

A. It’s a little different, yeah. You just get
smarter. My approach hasn’t changed, you just get smarter with it.
There’s certain things that you naturally become better at. You start
recognizing it. You make adjustments. My approach is the same. I’m going
to be aggressive. Sometimes, it’s like — I don’t feel like swinging at
the first pitch. Other days, I’m swinging. You find what works. Some
days I don’t have the energy to swing at the first pitch, so I look for a
walk. You take a couple pitches and then you start getting into a
rhythm of the at-bat and can carry that through the whole game. In the
past, you feel a little tired – well, I’m going to make something
happen. I should go out there and force something to happen. It usually
doesn’t work out that way.

The second thing that sticks out, as Jimmy mentions above, is his energy or lack there of.

Perhaps all of that Red Bull is failing to give him wings as advertised.

From watching Rollins play the field, you wouldn't have thought for a second he has lost a step, is lacking energy, or is banged up. Jimmy's still a world class defender.

But occasionally you see him run to first on a basically routine ground out and his foot isn't exactly on the gas pedal. We know Jimmy's a bit banged up and getting older, but Hale's quotes from Rollins really make it seem worse than I had thought it actually was.

Jimmy on his thought process on stealing:

The way I choose to steal a base or the situation is always the same. If
it’s a base I have to steal, I’m going to steal it. If I don’t
necessarily have to steal it, it’s how do I feel today? How are my legs?
I’m not just going to run if I’m not feeling good and take a chance of
getting thrown out. If it’s a situation where I absolutely have to go,
the adrenaline takes care of you. My legs are a little tired today, my
knee’s bothering me – but I have to go. And then you make that first
move and it’s like – whoosh. Then you stop and it’s like, oh shoot that
hurts. But during that time you do what you have to do and it doesn’t
bother you.

At least we know he can get the job done when he absolutely needs to, but do those sound like quotes from a guy you'd give big money and big years to?

Make no mistake about it, Jimmy Rollins is one of the Phillies leaders and we most certainly hope to see him back at Citizens Bank Park next season and beyond. But will Jimmy and his agent see eye-to-eye with Ruben Amaro Jr.?

J-Roll says, after spending his entire career in Philly, he doesn't get attached.

"I’ve never been attached to anything. I understand everything is temporary," Rollins told Hale.

I'm not sure I believe him though.

>>Rollins Talks About His Season, His Role & His Future [Philled In]

Sir Charles and Shaq made things personal last night and it was fantastic

Sir Charles and Shaq made things personal last night and it was fantastic

Shaq always has the trump card -- and by that we mean championship rings -- to throw in Charles Barkley's face. But with that said, Sir Charles is probably a much better trash talker and therefore has a superior mouth to defend himself with and throw barbs back in Shaq's direction.

The mouthy duo got into it a bit last night and it teetered between fun and lighthearted and a little personal.

Shaq attacks Chuck for only playing in one NBA Finals and therefore not really knowing what he was talking about. Charles claps back at Shaq for having ridden Kobe and Dwyane Wade's coattails. 

During an NBA playoffs that has been mostly boring, at least these two can still entertain us.

Fletcher Cox should be at Eagles OTAs, but absence likely meaningless

Fletcher Cox should be at Eagles OTAs, but absence likely meaningless

Fletcher Cox wasn’t at practice with the rest of his Eagles teammates on Tuesday -- well, 86 of them -- and that’s okay. It’s May, and participation in offseason training activities is strictly voluntary. Furthermore, if Cox wants to take a vacation, he is entitled to do so under the collective bargaining agreement.

Cox really should be at OTAs. The Eagles gave him a contract potentially worth over $100 million just last year, and with that comes an obligation. Cox arguably did not live up to that contract last season, too, so he could use the practice. And if he needed a vacation, why didn’t he take one during the three months he was off from work?

As far as I’m concerned, both takes are true. Cox is free to do as he wishes, and people with careers in sports should understand better than anybody the strain it places on families, so I can’t blame most of these guys for taking a little extra time. Then again, this drama with Cox seems like it was completely avoidable, and looks especially bad in light of his contract and disappointing season, so I can’t blame people for being angry, either.

Yet, Cox’s absence almost certainly will have no bearing on the outcome of any games this season. It’s not a sign of disrespect for Eagles coach Doug Pederson or that he’s losing the locker room. It’s not going to send a message to teammates that participation is not expected or important.

Cox missing OTAs on Tuesday was of no consequence to the Eagles at all. By training camp, it will be a forgotten footnote in the story of the 2017 season, only to be mentioned in future Mays whenever somebody else exercises the option to skip a voluntary practice.

Even then, there is clearly a double standard, because the reaction isn’t the same for everybody. When Brandon Graham missed last week while he was believed to be “holding out” for a new contract -- can’t hold out when it’s voluntary -- there were equal parts rage and support for the cause. Jason Peters and Donnie Jones are out this week, too, and while some displeasure has been voiced, those absences were largely met with apathy.

Marcus Smith was missing on Tuesday as well, and it’s not immediately clear why. Pederson made no mention of the former first-round draft pick, and practice was almost over before reporters bothered to notice. In theory, this is a huge mistake, because Smith is fighting for a roster spot. We also don’t know where he is -- perhaps there’s a reasonable explanation -- so it’s unreasonable to jump to conclusions or become outraged.

This is the part where once again we remind everybody that it’s May and these practices are non-contact. And while Cox going away for a week will still be indefensible to some, it never hurts to put yourself in another person’s shoes. Maybe, for whatever reason, he was literally unable to make the trip at a time that would not interfere with Eagles business. Maybe he was simply getting grief at home because he's away so much.

That undoubtedly will be impossible for some people to accept. And, hey, maybe Cox just doesn’t care. Regardless, the practices are voluntary, Cox is expected back next week, and absolutely nobody is going to be talking about this eight months from now, eight weeks from now, or even eight days from now.