Before Jimmy Rollins took the field at Citizens Bank Park yesterday to a rousing ovation from the crowd, he spoke with the Philly media and gave us some gems, as always. Rollins said that despite knowing he and his wife owe me a dinner at the Village Pub, he’ll have to wait until the offseason to make this happen.
And, of course, I understand. He’s a busy guy. And he said something else that I found interesting. He told Ruben Amaro that Ryne Sandberg sucked as a communicator.
“It was a rough place.”
“It isn’t just about the X’s and O’s and executing the game plan,” he said. “You have to manage the players. Manage the game during the game time, but in the meantime, you have to manage the players. That’s something I spoke with Ruben about before I got traded, and I know he said that was something he was going to mention to Ryne. Hopefully, that was a tip, but obviously whatever happened over here, he took it upon himself to say he didn’t really want to be a part of it anymore.”
Rollins’ distaste for Sandberg’s managing methods dates to spring training 2014, when Sandberg benched him for three straight games after Rollins offered a glib “Who cares?” to a reporter who had asked him about a batting slump. The opportunity was there for Sandberg to send a message to one of the Phillies’ most accomplished veterans and, in turn, to the entire team. Except he botched it. He never discussed the decision with Rollins until the punishment was obvious to the press and public, as if Sandberg’s status as a Hall of Fame second baseman afforded him respect that, as a novice major-league manager, he had not yet earned.
“We had him for a year [as a coach] at third base,” Rollins said. “We knew obviously that he was very quiet, and as a manager, you need to be more open because you deal with so many personalities. . . .
“When you’re able to talk things through, you can fix those rough patches or even not even have them. It just didn’t quite work out that way.”
In essence, Rollins painted a picture of Sandberg as a manager who expected players to comply with what he said or did, if he said anything to them at all, merely because he was Ryne Sandberg.
Ryan Howard’s stretch on the bench last season, Cody Asche’s relocation from third base to left field, players mysteriously pulled from games – Sandberg barely bothered to explain any of these moves, and his reticence chipped away at the players’ confidence in him.
It doesn’t seem coincidental that the Phillies have been a sharper, more competent club since Mackanin took over. “He’s the exact opposite,” Rollins said.
Damn it. I miss Jimmy, if only for me needing a free meal at the Pub.
What’s ironic [I think…?] is that Sandberg said that last season the clubhouse wasn’t conducive to winning. And, honestly, with the way the Phillies have been playing under Pete Mackanin, it was probably due to Sandberg’s presence.
Sorry, Ryno. Video of Rollins’ comments below.