Rollins to lead off for Dodgers this season
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Adjusting to his new team, Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins was happy to see something familiar: his name in the leadoff spot.
After posting a lineup Tuesday with Rollins at the top of the batting order for the Dodgers' Cactus League opener Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox, manager Don Mattingly said he expects Rollins to be his leadoff hitter this season.
''That's the one guy, I think, we are pretty sure about,'' Mattingly said. ''Jimmy is really kind of that leadoff guy.''
''I like that feeling of going out there and leading the way,'' said Rollins, whom the Dodgers acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies on Dec. 19. ''To be back there as of now, you feel like you're that fire starter again, like you'll be that spark plug to get things going.''
Rollins led off 1,456 times in 15 years (2000-2014) with the Phillies. Among active players, he is second to Ichiro Suzuki with 1,775 at-bats. Rollins, however, was batted second more often than first during his last two seasons in Philadelphia. In 2013 and `14, he batted second (182 times) almost twice as much as first (82).
''There's a different approach,'' said Rollins, who batted .243 last season with 17 home runs and 55 RBIs. ''Batting in the two-hole or even batting third, I just never felt like I got into the game. It just feels like the game starts later for you.
''Leadoff definitely fits my personality more,'' he added.
Rollins, a three-time All-Star and the 2007 NL MVP, had 28 steals in 34 attempts last season.
''I was disappointed with 28 bases,'' said Rollins, who missed the last 19 games of the season with a strained left hamstring.
Last year, second-baseman Dee Gordon led off for the Dodgers 133 times. Gordon, noted for his speed on the basepaths, was traded to the Miami Marlins on Dec. 10.
Right-fielder Yasiel Puig led off 11 times, but the Dodgers might want to use his power deeper in the batting order, especially with the trade of Matt Kemp to the Padres.
Left-fielder Carl Crawford led off seven times, but he says he prefers to bat second. He was second on the lineup card for Wednesday.
Rollins, Mattingly said, ''gives us a guy from both sides, he gives us a guy with speed. He profiles up there. He's the guy you can pretty much play every day, and he's a consistent guy up top.
NOTES: Pitcher Erik Bedard is scheduled to start Wednesday. Carlos Frias, Juan Nicasio, Sergio Santos, Adam Liberatore and Josh Ravin are also expected on the mound. ... Players' association executive director Tony Clark met with the Dodgers in their Camelback Ranch clubhouse Tuesday. Everything from domestic violence to pace of play rules were discussed, Clark said. ... Pitcher Zack Greinke is the Dodgers player-representative from 2015.