Rollins keeps contending hopes alive for Phillies
Hosting charity gala, shortstop says club has chance to be buyers at Deadline
PHILADELPHIA -- Dressed in a tan fedora with a matching vest and tie, Jimmy Rollins said he needed to see more of his teammates before he decided who cleaned up the best for his charity event.
It was early in the night at the Rollins Family Foundation Third Annual Charity Gala -- where the theme was "Harlem Nights" and guests were dressed like it was the 1920s -- and only a handful of other Phillies had arrived when Rollins spoke to reporters. But the shortstop has seen as much Phillies baseball as anyone in the last 13 years, and had a better grip when talking about where the 2013 team currently stands.
At 35-38, the Phillies entered Thursday as the third-place team in the National League East, eight games behind first-place Atlanta. Though the Phillies have been stationed around the .500 mark all season and blew a game against the second-place Nationals on Wednesday, Rollins remained positive.
"No one is running away with this division right now, and that's our silver lining," Rollins said. "If that was the case, it'd be different. And we still have to play Atlanta a whole bunch more, so we have a chance to make a dent on their lead."
About a month ago, when the Phillies were 19-22, Rollins said that the team needed to start playing better "before they blow it up," in a reference to the front office selling at the Trade Deadline. The Phillies are currently three games below .500, as they were then, but Rollins said he thinks the team is in a much better place now.
There has been a lot of speculation of what the Phillies will or will not do by the July 31 Deadline, but it's more than a month away, and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has been quiet on the issue. Rollins acknowledged that there is a lot of time before the Deadline, but said if things remain status quo in the division, he could see the Phillies adding instead of subtracting.
"[If] Atlanta right now wins 15 in a row or loses 15 in a row, there are going to be changes," Rollins said. "But I don't see that happening. And if that doesn't happen, we'll probably be more willing to buy, bring in a new arm, a new bat, something that can bring fresh energy. It will all work itself out. But that's a month from now, you don't even know what's going to happen tomorrow."
Part of the reason for the Phillies' mediocrity this season has been due to injury. But they did get a boost when catcher Carlos Ruiz returned from a hamstring injury earlier this week, and second baseman Chase Utley made his second appearance in Double-A Reading on a rehab assignment Thursday night.
Since he was rehabbing, Utley could not be at Rollins' event, but Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard and Kyle Kendrick were some of the notable names in attendance. Rollins said he and his wife, Johari, thought of the theme for the event in November, long before the latest version of "The Great Gatsby" hit theaters in May. A live jazz band, auctions of sports memorabilia and lots of food were all featured at the event, and the proceeds from it were to help young adults living with chronic health issues, as well as families who are struggling financially with extracurricular activities for their kids.
Rollins and Johari spent the first portion of their night posing for pictures with guests. However, Rollins had plans to hit the dance floor later, not with the Charleston, but with his own moves.
"I have a party-starter move," he said. "But it happens in the moment, when it's a little dead or trying to get crunk or turned up."
Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.