Longtime major league shortstop Jimmy Rollins hasn’t officially wrapped up his playing career since the Giants released him in March 2017, but it seems the 39-year-old is heading in that direction. Rollins will soon meet with Phillies general manager Matt Klentak to discuss a potential role, according to Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Rollins would like to retire as a Phillie, and while he isn’t interested in coaching, “he could work on assisting some players or on special assignments,” Breen writes. Rollins is best known for his run with the Phillies from 2000-14, a period in which he established himself as one of the greatest players in franchise history.
More from the National League…
- This is “a critical year” for the Braves, in part because it will help them decide how aggressively to seek upgrades via the free agent and trade markets next winter, general manager Alex Anthopoulos told Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. “The ideal scenario is that these guys emerge, they all take these jobs, run with them and become a part of our core,” Anthopoulos said of the Braves’ young talent, and he mentioned shortstop Dansby Swanson, third basemen Johan Camargo and Austin Riley, and catcher Alex Jackson as players who are capable of etching themselves into the team’s long-term plans this season. The most notable member of that group is Swanson, whom Arizona chose No. 1 in the 2015 draft and then traded to Atlanta in the well-known Shelby Miller deal later that year. Swanson’s now coming off his first full major league season, in which he struggled to a .232/.312/.324 batting line in 551 plate appearances. “Dansby Swanson at shortstop; everyone knows about Draft status and talent and all of that, but he didn’t have the year he’s capable of last year,” Anthopoulos said. “He’d be the first one to tell you that. Does he take that step and emerge as our shortstop?”
- At 34 and in the last year of his contract, outfielder Nick Markakis probably isn’t in the Braves’ long-term plans. But he’s still a Brave for now, and his coaches and teammates are glad, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution explains. Braves hitting coach Kevin Seitzer told O’Brien that Markakis is the “ultimate professional” and compared him to Royals luminaries George Brett and Alex Gordon, two people Seitzer’s familiar with from his days in Kansas City. Meanwhile, Swanson is “super thankful” Markakis is still in the fold. The same could hold true for manager Brian Snitker, whom Markakis raved about to O’Brien. According to O’Brien, now-former Braves president John Hart berated Snitker in the manager’s office after a loss last August. Markakis caught wind of it and “made it known, had the message sent up the chain, that if Hart ever treated the manager that way again that Markakis would, in so many words, kick his ass,” O’Brien writes.
- The Diamondbacks’ three-man closer competition is “wide open,” manager Torey Lovullo told Steve Gilbert of MLB.com and other reporters Sunday. The club’s choosing among Brad Boxberger, Yoshihisa Hirano (two offseason acquisitions) and Archie Bradley to replace Fernando Rodney, who converted 39 of 45 save opportunities as a D-back last year before leaving for Minnesota in free agency. Boxberger, though, has been dealing with “general arm soreness,” Gilbert relays, and hasn’t pitched in a game since Feb. 23. It’s unclear when he’ll see game action again, but Lovullo did say he “looked good” and “felt fantastic” during a 25-pitch bullpen session Sunday.
- Elsewhere on the Diamondbacks’ pitching staff, a lack of starting depth is an issue, particularly since the team dealt Anthony Banda to the Rays in last month’s Steven Souza Jr. trade, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic observes. Piecoro goes on to run down the Diamondbacks’ in-house options behind the enviable starting five of Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, Zack Godley, Taijuan Walker and Patrick Corbin. With the exception of the aforementioned Shelby Miller, who won’t return until the summer after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year, no one in the group has much of a big league track record. Fortunately for the D-backs, general manager Mike Hazen realizes they need help on that front. “I think there’s still some work to do there,” Hazen said of the team’s starting depth. “I think it’s an obvious area of focus now that we traded Banda. As I said before, it sort of always was as we went through that process.”