By Tim Jimenez
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The longest tenured professional athlete in Philadelphia has decided to return to the only pro team he has known. The Phillies and Jimmy Rollins have agreed to a 3-year, $33 million contract with a vesting option for a fourth year.
“I see you all know by now. Gotta deal with me for 3 (4) more years,” Jimmy Rollins tweeted.
News of the deal was a hot topic at Chickie’s and Pete’s in South Philadelphia. To most fans at the bar, the deal was not a surprise.
“I knew he loved it here and I really thought he was going to stay,” said Dawn from South Philadelphia, who follows the three-time all-star on Facebook.
Even though Rollins’ offensive numbers have gone down since his 2007 MVP campaign, fans said his value does not just come at the plate.
“He’s one of those guys who really gets everybody else motivated on the team,” Kristen from Wilmington, Delaware said. “I think he’s the heart and soul of the team.”
“He’s a great shortstop, defensively great,” one fan said. “His bat needs to come up a little bit. But in the locker room, I think that’s where he’s going to make his biggest impact.”
There was more of a mixed reaction to Rollins’ likely return to the leadoff spot.
“He’s got to foul stuff off if he’s going to be the leadoff guy,” one fan said, criticizing Rollins’ approach at the plate.
“I never thought he was a leadoff hitter,” Dave from South Philadelphia said. “Maybe drop him down in the lineup? But they don’t really have too many options to lead off. He’s got to go up there and take some pitches. He can’t go up there and keep swinging away.”
The overall consensus was that of approval. Rollins, many fans said Saturday night, was the best option and deserved to be rewarded for being a major contributor to the team’s success. Fans mentioned the shortstop eventually retiring in a Phillies uniform. However, even with Rollins returning, in addition to the other offseason acquisitions, some fans were not ready to book the team’s trip to the World Series just yet.
“We’ll see,” one fan said. “Honestly, we’ll see.”