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October 29, 2009

Jimmy Rollins


Q. Six days off before last year's World Series, six days off before this World Series. You guys still played well and got off to a good start. Is it harder than it looks, or what's the key?
JIMMY ROLLINS: Um, I just think it's the personality of this team. I guess we've kind of become accustomed to waiting, had to wait a couple days to finish Game 5. So that was a little practice for us, I guess.
But we go out there, take our ground balls every day, and really, I think, everybody was resting up very well until we really found out who we were playing, and we weren't together at the time, but when we came back to the clubhouse, it was like the light switch was back on.

Q. You talked about it a little bit last night, but could you talk a little bit more about World Series personality Pedro as opposed to the regular season and how you know he's locked in?
JIMMY ROLLINS: I mean, he's still laughing a lot, don't get me wrong, but it's kind of just a bit more of a smirk than just pure laughter right now. I noticed that a couple days ago. Usually he's cracking jokes and we're having a lot of fun, and he still does the same, it's just toned down. He kind of gives you that serious look like he's off into space but he's working on his game plan.
And during the season, on game day, he was like that. The other four it was kind of like, yeah, whatever.

Q. Just another question on Pedro: Did he alter at all the mood of the clubhouse when he came in July or have any kind of measurable effect?
JIMMY ROLLINS: Other than joining in and performing the way he did, it's really hard to say. We had a good clubhouse, a whole bunch of guys that were clowns, so he fits right into that category. You know, another press savvy guy. (Laughter). I don't know why that's funny.
Other than him just bringing his full résumé, what he is, what he's meant to baseball, I'd say he pretty much just fit in rather than made a significant difference.

Q. In terms of everyday players, Ibañez is the major addition to this year's team. Can you describe the ways that you think that he's had an impact on the way that the team plays.
JIMMY ROLLINS: Definitely. There were less balls falling in the outfield, so that meant teams were getting extra outs on balls that should have been outs. They were turned into outs this year. Although we were looking for a right-handed bat in the off-season, just picking up a great hitter can't be overlooked. And the season he had, the production, especially prior to him getting injured, the man was a superstar.
Coming down the stretch, he still found a way to come up with big hits. Although his numbers fell off a little bit, he was there when it counted. Those are the things you need down the stretch, guys that find a way to get the job done, not just have a great first half and fall off when the games really are important. He found a way to do that.
But if anything, for me at least, on the left side, I got a little rest not having to go out there and catch as many fly balls.

Q. Neither Cliff nor Pedro were on your team in the beginning of July. Was there a feeling around the team that you guys needed some help in the rotation in order to get back here where you wanted to go to the World Series? And what kind of lift did they provide when they did arrive?
JIMMY ROLLINS: I'll address the second half. Cliff definitely provided a lift. Just knowing the type of year he had come off of, the excitement that he brings just being a new player, but a star player at that, that always brings excitement. You always want to prove that you're a team worthy of a guy like that, and if he performs here, good things are going to happen.
Was it completely necessary? In our minds, probably not. We won without them, so we figured if worst case, we didn't get anyone, we'll find a way to do it again. But in getting them, we really felt our chances did improve, though.

Q. You're in a ballpark where a lot is made of legacies and where different players stand in the franchise's history. Have you thought about your own place and what -- I'm not saying you think about it right now because obviously you're focused on the games, but before last year the franchise only had one World Series title. Have you thought about kind of what that means to where the core of this Phillies team will be looked back at in the history of the franchise?
JIMMY ROLLINS: No, not really. We still have so much work to do, I believe, and I believe everyone in that clubhouse feels the same way. You start looking at yourself and being content and getting happy, you find yourself sliding the wrong way quickly.
And to leave a legacy or your place in history, you have to do it over a course of time. This is just a short picture right now. Three good years, it takes a little more than that to leave a mark.

Q. You guys had some pretty good at-bats last night against their bullpen. How encouraging was that, not that you guys were lacking it, but does it help the confidence going forward that you guys had some success against them last night?
JIMMY ROLLINS: I think it definitely does, just in general. That first game back, you believe in yourself, but you've got to learn to trust your hands again, let your eyes go to work, still can catch up with the fastball, lay off the off-speed stuff. But right away, it was like the light switch was on once we found out who won, and things just snapped.
The bullpen, just like all year long, we do a pretty good job of finding ways to score runs on middle relievers, and we were able to do that, keep them from getting ahead of us. It helps that they weren't throwing strikes. It's always a little easier when they're 2-0, 3-1 a lot, but when we had a chance to swing, we put some pretty good swings on the ball.

Q. What's the difference between Cole this year and last year? He was so lights out in the post-season. This year he looks like he's struggled a little bit.
JIMMY ROLLINS: Location. He hasn't been able to place his fastball where he wants it. You see the catcher setting up outside, and he's pulling the ball in, and when he's doing that, it makes his change-up a lot less effective. When he's spotting his fastball and he can throw the change-up in the same spot 10, 12 miles per hour slower, it becomes tough to hit. But when he's struggling with one pitch, you can almost start cancelling out the other, and I think that's the biggest difference.

Q. It seems any time Jimmy Rollins and New York get together, you make headlines. I'm interested, do you think about doing that? Is that part of the fun for you? Or has it just happened over the years?
JIMMY ROLLINS: I wish I was that smart. No. They happen to ask the right questions at the right time, and I'll usually do my best to tell the truth about how I feel or what I'm thinking. For some reason, people like to write about it. (Laughter).

Q. Having played in the new and the old Yankee Stadium, you guys seem really comfortable here from the start of the regular season series and yesterday. Is there a difference? Are there ghosts here?
JIMMY ROLLINS: I don't know, I never actually played at the old Yankee Stadium. Brett has, Chase has, and you know, from growing up, I've watched a game at Yankee Stadium, a playoff game, just all the mystique that came with it. What I thought it would be like compared to what this is like, I would have to say it's completely different.
They had a legacy over there from the hallways, the monuments, everything. Here it's brand new. It's a different ballpark. It's prettier, big ol' jumbo screens everywhere. I would have to say it's a lot different from what I would have expected it to have been.

Q. However you define the word "underdog," it's pretty clear you guys are the underdog in the series. Almost unanimously people are picking the Yankees. Do you guys notice that? And what do you think as defending World Champions?
JIMMY ROLLINS: We've heard it. You know, do we notice it? Not at all. We don't feel that way, and that's really the most important thing, that we don't consider ourselves underdogs. We're not going out there trying to prove anything, just going out there trying to win four games. That's our objective, that's what we're here for from Spring Training, and we've found a way to do that. Whatever title they want to give us, that's fine, as long as we keep winning.

Q. Can you talk about the message your team sent last night, the way you came out swinging at everything, from the first to the last inning, but it stood out to me more that there was no waiting for a particular pitch, you were just swinging. What kind of message does that send against a guy like CC Sabathia given how well he's performed?
JIMMY ROLLINS: I don't think we were trying to send a message to them. I mean, I think I bunted twice in the last two years, but I was like, you know what, if I'm going to make something happen on the first pitch, I've bunted on Cee before and he told me if I did it again, he's going to hit me. I thought, well, if I bunt and he hits me, that's another free base.
The whole thing for me from the beginning was we need to make things happen. Let's take the game to them. But it was something for us, not necessarily for them to say, okay, you have to come out swinging. You have to come out and play. We were saying we're going to bring the game out, this is our style of baseball, there's no need to wait for it. We were waiting six, seven days, whatever it was. Everybody was chomping at the bit, and when the lights are on and the umpire says, "play ball," that's exactly what we come to do.

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