CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Jimmy Rollins has some advice for players from the United States who might consider playing in future World Baseball Classics, and it's the same as a famous athletic shoe commercial.
"Just do it," the shortstop said after rejoining the Phillies on Monday. "It was a lot of fun. It's hard to explain it until you've done it, and it's hard to convince someone. But I think guys get excited once they see it on TV. Hopefully they'll take a note from the other countries and really have guys sign up and want to play.
"To go out there and the games and at-bats mean something . . . I know they don't go on your bubble gum card. Do they count as far as winning a World Series? No, but they mean something as far as winning, for the game, for competition. It's the Olympics [since] there is no more baseball in the Olympics. This is what we have, and to put on the USA [jersey], it's a lot of fun. It's hard to explain it until you've done it. It's hard to convince someone but hopefully they respect you enough [to listen]."
In 2009, Rollins hit .417 in the Classic and was the only United States player named to the All-Tournament team. However, he was unable to carry that into the regular season. He was batting .205 as late as July 1 before rallying to finish at .250. This year he batted .321 in six games and was asked what he had learned four years ago that will help him use his success as a springboard for the regular season.
"The last time when I came back, I was excited. The guys here have been just kicking the can around, thinking, 'Geez, Spring Training.' And you're like, 'Man, I just had a great experience!' And you try not to rub it in their faces with all the joy, but this time around it doesn't really matter. It's Spring Training and we have to get things going around here. So, to bring that excitement, which is what happened in '07 when I brought that excitement and people fed off of it. So, I'm trying to take a note of that and keep it going and not go in reverse -- because I went waaaay reverse last time," he said with a laugh.
Rollins, who played in a Minor League game at the Carpenter Complex on Monday, was disappointed that Team USA didn't advance to the final round but thinks the tournament can be beneficial to preparing for the regular season.
"Because you're game-ready, and even more so because you're playing in a pressure situation where two losses and you're out. During the season you go through streaks where you lose two games and, whatever. We can go win the next five and have a great week. There, you lose two games and you're going home. So you have to be on point from Day 1. It's tough, but I wouldn't have it any other way. We don't play for fun, we go out there to win and be put in that situation to see if we'll succeed or not," Rollins said.
And, yes, he wouldn't mind playing again in 2017 when he'll be 38 years old.
"If I'm still good enough at the time, and I can be brought back in any capacity, I'm leaving Spring Training, I'll tell you that right now. I'll be there in a heartbeat," he said.
Halladay still under the weather
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Roy Halladay is still sick.
He lasted only one inning Sunday in a Grapefruit League game against the Orioles at Bright House Field. That followed 2 2/3 innings Tuesday, when he struggled and said afterward he felt lethargic because of a more intense workout program, and because he threw two bullpen sessions in between starts.
Everybody maintains Halladay is healthy, other than the illness that got the best of him.
"We've just got to get him healthy so we can get him back on the mound," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Monday at Champion Stadium.
Understandably, there are many skeptics out there. Halladay struggled in 2012, fighting back and shoulder problems. He pronounced himself fit during a press conference in February. He looked pretty good in his first two Grapefruit League starts before seeing a drop in velocity in his third. His fourth start Tuesday raised red flags.
"Obviously we want to get him on the mound and get him his reps, but we can't do anything about him being sick," Amaro said.
Asked again if Halladay is healthy, Amaro said, "Yeah. There is no indication that he's suffering from any discomfort or anything like that. That's good."
Asked if he is confident Halladay can make 30-33 starts this season, Amaro said, "I am. Listen, we'll find out as he continues to pitch, but Doc's confident and we're confident in him. We'll just have to see how it plays out. Right now we're more concerned about him getting healthy so he can get back on the mound."
Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon might have the same bug as Halladay. Papelbon needed an IV on Sunday, and it wasn't certain if he'd be able to make his scheduled appearance on Tuesday.
Lee stays in Clearwater, avoids Braves
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- If Cliff Lee had made the trip to Lake Buena Vista on Monday, he would have pitched against the same Braves lineup he's likely to see in the first series of the regular season in two weeks.
Instead, he stayed behind and pitched six shutout innings in a Triple-A game against the Pirates at the Carpenter Complex. He struck out nine while allowing four hits. He didn't walk a batter and threw 80 pitches.
Lee said he wasn't sure if it mattered whom he pitched against.
"There's pros and cons," he said. "I mean, I could be able to see their weaknesses. At the same time, they could make adjustments to me. So that can go both ways. You never know."
He was pleased with his outing.
"I didn't walk anyone and they didn't score. I like both of those," he said. "I felt good. I was locating well. Used all my pitches."
Lee was sharp, but said he needs to focus on being consistent.
"Mixing in my pitches and changing locations and sequences. That's just a never-ending deal. So I'm going to continue to work on that throughout the spring and for the rest of the year and for the rest of my career," he said.
Battle for utility spots remains open
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Monday the competition for the team's two utility infield jobs remains wide open with less than a week remaining before they need to make a decision.
Freddy Galvis, Kevin Frandsen and Yuniesky Betancourt are fighting for those jobs, but because Betancourt has an opt-clause he must be informed by Sunday if he has made the 25-man roster. If he has not, he can ask to be released.
After Monday's 17-10 win over the Braves at Champion Stadium, Galvis was hitting .273 (15-for-55) with six doubles, one triple, two home runs and eight RBIs. He is the best defender of the three, and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has been vocal in his support of him. Frandsen has had a very good spring offensively, hitting .298 (14-for-47) with four doubles, one triple, two home runs and six RBIs. Manuel consistently compliments his hitting ability.
After going 4-for-5 with a double and two RBIs on Monday, Betancourt is hitting .450 (18-for-40) with three doubles and nine RBIs. He's looked good defensively at times.
"I think they've all played well enough to be on our club, so it has to be wide open," Amaro said, "Defense is still important, but obviously it's the total package of the player. All three of them have played very well. I'm happy with all three of them."
Asked if he can make up his mind in the next six days, Manuel said, "I can make up my mind in two seconds."
But has he?
"No, I haven't," Manuel said. "Everything comes into play. It kind of depends on where we want to go and what we see on our team. Really. We've got a good battle there, man."
• Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown has been hitting the ball hard since his first Grapefruit League game.
Brown went 3-for-4 with a home run, his fifth of the spring, and two RBIs in Monday's 17-10 loss to the Braves at Champion Stadium. He is hitting .400 (24-for-60).
"Domonic is swinging good, man," Manuel said.
• Darin Ruf struggled early, but has looked better recently.
Ruf went 2-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI. He is hitting .320 (8-for-25) in his last eight games.
"He's hitting better," Manuel said. "He's going to hit. He's hit everywhere he's been. He's got a good swing."
Todd Zolecki and Paul Hagen are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.