Jimmy Rollins says blue-collar Philadelphia is not “conducive to a superstar”

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FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal sat down with Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins (it still feels weird writing that) to discuss a wide range of topics, including how he’s adjusting to his new team and a look back at his time with the Phillies. The entire interview is worth a read.

Rollins was a second-round pick of the Phillies in 1996 and played 15 seasons in Philadelphia, so he essentially grew up there and experienced the bad and the good and the bad again. He told Rosenthal that he “loved” playing in the city and it made him what he is today, but it also sounds like he has a load off his back.

Q: What do you feel like now that you no longer are in Philly?

Free. I feel like I’m free to be myself without someone on my shoulder. Obviously, everyone has parameters and limits. You have to play within the boundaries. But when you’re a leader, rules are a little different for you. When you’re a superstar, rules are a little different. You’re held to a higher standard, which I love. But it brings added pressure. Which I love. But if someone buds, let ’em bud. Instead of trying to keep ’em within this framework. Just let ’em be who they are at that moment.

The general area, the city (of Philadelphia) being blue-collar, it’s not conducive for a superstar. You can be good, but you’ve got to be blue-collar along the way, keep your mouth shut, just go and work. Where obviously, this is L.A. It’s almost like it’s OK to be more flamboyant. You kind of appreciate that the more you’re out there. Because L.A. loves a star.

So in that sense, I feel free. If I want to “show out” a little bit – from the outside looking in, people might say, “You’re in Hollywood.” But no, in some places you couldn’t do that.

I think most fans like in Philadelphia like good players and players who win. Rational ones, anyway. So they aren’t too different from other places. It’s a very tough place to play, similar to other East Coast cities like New York and Boston, but I grew up watching Allen Iverson and he’s beloved there. Los Angeles might be a place where a flamboyant player is more likely to be embraced, but as we see regularly with Yasiel Puig, the criticism is still there too. The main difference for Rollins now is that he was looked as one of the faces of the franchise in Philadelphia and now he can fade into the background with this team. That’s probably a nice change of pace for him.

While Rollins’ comments about Philadelphia will almost certainly get the most attention, perhaps my favorite part of the interview was his thoughts on hustle and why he doesn’t always run 100 percent. It’s something he was criticized for at times, even by his former manager Charlie Manuel, but it’s pretty logical stuff. It’s refreshing to see someone be so forthcoming about it. Anyway, good interview by Rosenthal. Read it if you get the chance.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.