Jimmy Rollins eager to prove himself with Giants, the team 'that took a ring from me'

Jimmy Rollins eager to prove himself with Giants, the team 'that took a ring from me'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Post-practice, Jimmy Rollins relaxed at his locker and added some orange shoelaces to his cleats, sharing with locker mate and San Francisco center fielder Denard Span how much he appreciates a pop of color in his baseball gear again.

Now the veteran infielder just needs to land a long-term job with the Giants out of spring training.

"Last year was the first time I wore black," Rollins said, smiling. "I wore red, Dodger Blue. This has got that vibrant orange so it's OK. It's been a long time since I wore something with no pop of color."

Rollins was with the White Sox last season. That after a one-season stint in Dodger Blue and bright red for 15 years with the Phillies.

The 2007 NL MVP agreed to a minor league deal in December to join a club that has liked him for years. Last season, Rollins joined Chicago with the hopes of landing an everyday job and did so. He made the roster as starting shortstop but was designated for assignment last June.

That was three days after his third daughter, Brie — "like the cheese," he notes — was born. Back home in the Bay Area, Rollins' parents are hoping he makes the team so they get more regular time with his girls. Camryn is 4 and Logan 2, while the baby is now 8 months.

"It's good to be in a place that they wanted me for a few years now, and I've known that," Rollins said. "I've been under contract with the exception of last year. The opportunity to play was more pressing at that time, so I went with what appeared to be the better opportunity to play, not necessarily the better team. The way it happened last year not playing a full season and getting a phone call, `We still like you, we'll give you a shot at least.' I'm like, `Shoot, I'm there, what numbers are available.'"

He got No. 7, the one he wore last year. His longtime No. 11 was Carl Hubbell's and is retired and "I figured the little brother to No. 11 is 7."

Third baseman Eduardo Nunez is thrilled to have someone like Rollins in camp to push the rest of the infielders and offer his veteran insight — and a fun personality to boot.

"I love it," said Nunez, limited by a hamstring injury down the stretch and in a four-game NL Division Series defeat to the Cubs. "That's great. The competition is fun and that's what makes you better."

The Giants made things more interesting in the competition for infield positions by adding another versatile infielder to the mix Friday. Aaron Hill agreed to a minor league contract and would earn a $2 million, one-year deal if he is added to the 40-man roster.

Hill joins a growing list of veteran infielders in the mix to try to land a job out of spring training, along with Rollins and Korean Jae-gyun Hwang. Manager Bruce Bochy reiterated that Nunez is the starting third baseman with Conor Gillaspie expected to play as well after his surprising contributions in the playoffs last fall.

The 34-year-old Hill, who has familiarity with the NL West from his years with the Arizona Diamondbacks, spent last season between Milwaukee and Boston. He batted .262 with 10 home runs, 14 doubles and 38 RBIs in 125 games. Hill spent the previous five seasons with the D-backs.

"It's great to have this kind of depth and talent with the veterans that we have," Bochy said following his team's first full-squad workout. "We'll let it play out."

For Rollins, there are still memories of losing to San Francisco in the 2010 NL Championship Series as the Giants went on to capture their first championship since moving West in 1958.

"A clubhouse that took a ring from me. Like KD, if you can't beat `em, join `em," he said, referencing Warriors star Kevin Durant's decision to leave Oklahoma City and join the Golden State group that beat him in last year's Western Conference Finals.

Notes
RF Hunter Pence is going through all baseball activities except for hitting after he injured a side muscle during a workout in Houston before arriving in the desert. "He's real close," Bochy said.

IronPigs rally to help Phillies end West Coast trip with 2 straight wins

IronPigs rally to help Phillies end West Coast trip with 2 straight wins

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — Ben Lively, his eyes wide before his eighth big-league start, looked around at his teammates moments before the game.
 
"Dude, this is a really familiar dugout," he told Rhys Hoskins.
 
Indeed. Six of the Phillies' nine starters Sunday afternoon at AT&T Park were recent teammates at Triple A Lehigh Valley. They recently graduated to the majors and on this day joined together in rallying for a 5-2 win over the San Francisco Giants as the Phils closed out a West Coast trip with two wins and five losses (see Instant Replay).
 
It was a very entertaining ball game for several reasons:
 
The Phillies came back from a run down in the eighth inning and scored three times on a succession of five straight singles against Giants reliever Hunter Strickland.
 
Closer Hector Neris pitched himself into a tight spot when he plunked Buster Posey with a first-pitch fastball to load the bases in the bottom of the eighth. Posey took exception with the pitch, said something to Neris and moaned about it to reporters after the game (see video).
 
And then there was the IronPigs. All of the recent additions from Triple A had a hand in the win. All five of the Phillies' runs were driven in by players recently promoted. In Saturday night's win, a cast of recent additions drove in 10 of the Phillies' 12 runs. So, newcomers drove in 15 of the Phillies' 17 runs the last two days.
 
"We were pretty talented down there and I think it's good for this organization to have that kind of burst of energy," Hoskins said. "Hopefully it carries over to the homestand."
 
The IronPigs' impact started with Lively, who was recalled before the start and delivered six innings of two-run ball — "just what we needed," manager Pete Mackanin said.
 
It continued with utility man Pedro Florimon starting in left field, throwing out a runner at the plate and driving in three runs, including the tie-breaking run in the eighth.
 
Jorge Alfaro started behind the plate and drove in the tying run with a base hit in the eighth after coming back from an 0-2 count.
 
In all, the Phillies had five straight one-out hits in that inning — by Hoskins, Maikel Franco, Alfaro, Nick Williams and Florimon. All but Franco was in Triple A until recently.
 
"It's awesome," Lively said. "Everyone is getting an opportunity. A lot of people are making the best of their opportunities. That fires me up more than anything."
 
Two others who had been at Lehigh Valley this season, Adam Morgan and Luis Garcia, chipped in with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.
 
Hoskins gave the Phillies a little breathing room in the ninth inning when he bashed his fifth homer in his first 11 games in the majors. All of them came on this trip to his home state with a slew of friends and family in the seats.
 
"I think we could have come away with a couple more wins, obviously, but we're feeling pretty good going home, split the series after dropping the first two," Hoskins said.
 
The wins were the Phillies' only two in the state of California this season. They went 2-11 in the land of the Double-Double.
 
The game was not without some drama. With two outs and runners on first and second in the bottom of the eighth, and the Phils clinging to a two-run lead, Mackanin summoned his closer, Neris, as the dangerous Posey — who had already singled and doubled — stepped in the box.
 
Neris' first pitch, a 95-mph fastball, hit Posey in the side. The usually mild-mannered Posey was angry and said something to Neris before cooler heads prevailed.
 
After the game, Posey was still angry.
 
"I'm pretty certain he hit me on purpose and it's just a shame because I wanted to compete in that at bat," Posey said. "I guess he didn’t feel he could get me out.
 
"It was a big spot. It would have been fun to hit."
 
Neris was incredulous when he heard what Posey said.
 
"Not a chance," he said when asked if he hit Posey on purpose. "I don't want to put the tying run on second base. I don't want to hit anybody in that situation."
 
Mackanin said there was no way Neris threw at Posey.
 
"If Hector hit him intentionally, I'm not real happy with Hector to put the tying run on second base and the go-ahead run on first," Mackanin said. "It doesn't make sense to me."

Best of MLB: Red Sox extend AL East lead with dominant win vs. Yankees

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Best of MLB: Red Sox extend AL East lead with dominant win vs. Yankees

BOSTON -- Jackie Bradley Jr. tripled in two runs and singled in another, and Rick Porcello pitched six innings of a combined three-hitter to help the AL East-leading Red Sox beat New York 5-1 on Sunday and extend their lead over the Yankees to five games.

The Red Sox won for the 14th time in 17 games, taking two out of three from New York for the second weekend in a row. The archrivals meet again in the first week of September for a four-game series at Yankee Stadium.

Porcello (8-14) allowed all three New York hits, striking out four and walking three to win his fourth straight start. Three relievers provided a perfect inning apiece.

Porcello has allowed two runs or fewer in all six career starts against the Yankees in Fenway Park. That's the longest such stretch for a Red Sox pitcher since at least 1913, the ballclub said.

Sonny Gray (7-8) allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks in five innings.

Brett Gardner homered near the Pesky Pole for the Yankees, who had won five of their last six (see full recap).

Cubs score 3 in 10th inning to complete sweep of Blue Jays
CHICAGO -- Alex Avila capped Chicago's three-run 10th inning with a two-run single, and the Cubs swept the Toronto Blue Jays with a wild 6-5 victory on Sunday.

With two outs and the bases loaded, Avila lined a base hit into right field against Roberto Osuna (3-4). Ben Zobrist scored easily and Javier Baez slid in safely just ahead of the throw from Jose Bautista.

Avila threw his arms in the air when it was over, then was mobbed by happy teammates near first base. The improbable rally also included two batters reaching on swing-and-miss strikeouts, and Kyle Schwarber scoring on a wild pitch.

Toronto grabbed the lead with two runs in the top of the inning on Kevin Pillar's RBI single off Koji Uehara, and Norichika Aoki's bases-loaded loaded walk against Justin Wilson (4-4) (see full recap).

Giancarlo Stanton hits MLB-leading 45th homer in win over Mets
NEW YORK -- Giancarlo Stanton hit his major league-leading 45th home run and Adam Conley struck out a career-high 11, leading the Miami Marlins over the New York Mets 6-4 on Sunday.

Stanton connected for a three-run shot off Jacob deGrom (13-7) as the Marlins scored four times in the seventh inning for a 6-1 lead. Stanton had homered in six straight games before coming up short Wednesday night.

Conley (6-5) allowed one run and three hits in seven innings. Brad Ziegler pitched the ninth for his sixth save.

Yoenis Cespedes homered for the Mets, who have lost six of their last nine games. They fell to 6-15 on Sundays this season, including 2-9 at Citi Field (see full recap).