Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins drove a 10th-inning Dan Jennings pitch over the left field wall at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday night to give his club a 5-4 walkoff win over the visiting Marlins. As Rollins trotted out of the batter’s box to begin his celebratory stroll around the bases he appeared to shout a few words at his own dugout. Turns out, he was actually jawing at a fan — a Phillies fan, presumably — who was sitting in the first couple of rows and had been rudely heckling him throughout his decisive at-bat.
Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com has more ….
At first glance, it appeared as if Rollins might have been emoting toward his teammates. But upon further review, Rollins was giving an earful to a heckler in the box seats.
“Some fan in the stands popping off,” Rollins said. “He was right behind our dugout. He was close enough to yell, and he pissed me off, honestly.”
Rollins said the fan said “something pretty ignorant” after the first pitch of the at-bat. He would not expound.
But Rollins had no qualms recounting what he said to the fan as he broke from the batter’s box.
“I very politely told him to shut the F up,” Rollins said.
And that’s just the way he said it.
“He started chirping right after my first swing,” Rollins said. “I wanted to do it right when he said it, but I still had an at-bat to get through.
“You hear it a lot. A lot of times you want to say something back. This time I was able to.”
Rollins was pressed as to what the fan said that made him so angry.
Again, he would not expound.
Rollins, 35, is batting .316/.395/.553 with seven runs and 10 RBI in nine games played this season.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.