Soon after the Los Angeles Dodgers included Dee Gordon in their trade with the Miami Marlins, they found his replacement at second base in the form of Howie Kendrick. However, while Kendrick was taking over at second base, the Dodgers were left without a clearcut option to bat leadoff.
The void atop the lineup figured to have been filled when the Dodgers acquired Jimmy Rollins from the Philadelphia Phillies, though it wasn’t exactly set in stone. Manager Don Mattingly changed that on March 3 when he announced the veteran shortstop would bat leadoff this season.
Rollins said it was a role he embraced, then used Spring Training to demonstrate he’s more than capable of jumpstarting the Dodgers’ offense. In 22 Cactus League games, Rollins hit .313/.333/.531 with one home run, two triples, seven doubles and added six RBIs.
Rollins singled in his first at-bat of the 2015 season, but it was what he did in the eighth inning that’s endeared him with Dodger fans — if he hadn’t already accomplished that. After falling behind in the count 0-2 against Shawn Kelley, Rollins laid off three consecutive pitches to force a full count.
The 36-year-old shortstop then fouled off two pitches before hitting a three-run home run that proved to be the difference in the Dodgers’ 6-3 win. Rollins finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs, a walk and a run scored.