MIAMI — The Phillies are so desperate for offense that Jimmy Rollins was in uniform Tuesday night.
Well, half kidding.
Rollins was in uniform before Tuesday’s game, but he wasn’t making a comeback. Though he has not officially announced his retirement – as Ryan Howard did on Tuesday – Rollins’ playing days are over. He will likely make an official announcement in the next year or so and the Phillies would surely give the former National League MVP, World Series champion and all-time franchise hits leader a fitting sendoff.
For now, Rollins is spending a few days in Miami to impart a little pennant-race wisdom on his former club. Brad Lidge recently spent some time with the club and offered wisdom to some of the young relievers.
Rollins, who will turn 40 in November, watches many of the Phillies’ games at his Tampa home. He is familiar with the club, its place in the standings and recent struggles. He is eager to be a resource and he knows a thing or two about chasing down a division leader in the month of September. Remember 2007? It started with Rollins famously saying the Phillies were the team to beat in the NL East and ended with them coming from 7½ games down with 17 to play to overtake the New York Mets and make Rollins’ words prophetic.
“Obviously, things haven’t gone well lately, but I just want to remind the ones that haven’t been through it that there’s a lot of time left,” Rollins said. “We were in a much worse situation. I was talking to Odubel (Herrera) about how fun it was. We were in the same position.
“You still need a little help along the way, but these guys are in a better position. They’re not as far back as we were.”
The Phillies entered Tuesday night having lost 17 of their previous 26 games. They were four games behind first-place Atlanta with 25 to play. The Phils were 3½ out of the wild card, trailing two teams.
“We’re always looking to utilize the expertise of our legends,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “Jimmy’s presence is perfect right now in our clubhouse.”
So what is Rollins’ message to the young men who are where he once was?
“Just make sure you find ways to win and not find ways to lose,” he said. “There’s a mentality. It’s a mentality of hope versus knowing. When you hope to win you kind of hope things go your way and when they don’t it’s like, ‘Aw.’ When you know you’re going to win, you don’t know how, but you find that way. You can’t hope to win, you have to make it happen by knowing it’s going to happen. You have to believe it and know something good is going to happen.”
Rollins talked about the importance of not overthinking a situation.
“You have to know how to get out of your own way because when you’re struggling that’s what it is a lot of times,” he said. “It’s not that you’re overmatched, it’s not that you’re not prepared. It’s that your brain turns on and you’re thinking and you’re interfering with your natural process. When you’re walking down the hall, you don’t tell your right hand to turn on the light switch, you just do it, and playing sports is the same thing. You’re mind is clear, you know what needs to be done and you do it.”