The Jimmy Rollins Era is in its nascent stage, but I'm already enjoying it immensely for its straightforwardness.
Rollins, a 37-year-old who has already won a World Series ring, didn't hold any particularly romantic notions about his new employer upon signing:
Rollins said he signed with the White Sox on Feb. 22 largely because there were no other viable offers out there and he wasn't ready to retire.
"I got a chance to play and control my playing time," Rollins said. "There's no more than you can ask for, to have an opportunity to do that. Other places, I would have been coming off the bench as a utility player no matter how well I did unless somebody got injured. So, sometimes you have to take a shot, and I'm taking a chance."
The club's side also checks out. Robin Ventura said Rollins is going to make the team unless "something happens physically where it wouldn't work," where he hopes to mix-and-match the veteran with Tyler Saladino based on the demands of the day, and also to keep Rollins fresh:
"With Jimmy's age, if he goes on a run, you want to make sure you're not wearing him out," Ventura said. "You have those conversations about what it's like to get to that age. It's a compliment to him, a feather in his cap that he's gotten this far at that age still playing shortstop. … At that age you realize you can't go every day like you used to."
These blueprints basically match up with what I'd hoped for, so something about this team's construction is finally making sense to me. After being thrown one curve and waiting for another that never came, I'm glad to be making contact again.
The expectations surrounding Todd Frazier drift ever upward. He was the subject of two national columns on Wednesday, both of which cover much of the same ground with which we are familiar -- he's New Jersey as Cake Boss and twice as affable, and just the personality the White Sox need to jar them loose from mediocrity's stranglehold.
The kicker on Jerry Crasnick's version basically sums it up:
"We're gonna make some noise this year, man," Frazier says. "Everybody talks about the Cubs and the young guys they have. Don't get me wrong -- they're a good club. But people are gonna remember us this year, because we're going to come out with guns blazing."
Two weeks into camp, Frazier sounds and acts like a guy who was made for Chicago's South Side. The mandate now is turning all that talk into action.
But with more than a month until Opening Day, talk is all we have, and Frazier's the kind of guy who will supply it for visiting writers.
Which is fine. It's easy to slip into fatalism while following the Sox, but this build-up appears to be a natural byproduct of Frazier's effervescence, and everybody involved should want him to preserve his innocence as much as possible. But with every story that touches on these points, the more it becomes evident that the club has really hitched its wagon to him. He might not be able to drive the Sox to the postseason by himself, but there are some important people counting on him to show up.
This being the case, Ventura's trying to give him support. After the Sox laid a spike strip to Brooks Boyer's best-laid plans in April, Ventura is starting the final year of his contract by altering his approach to spring training lineups:
"Not (playing) longer, but it's just more playing together, maybe back-to-back (games) a little bit more," he said, referring to his regulars. "I'm not doing anything to punish them. It's just to get them ready."
There must be a reason he's trying something different, so I assumed it was because of the slow start. But Ventura insisted it's "because they're a new group," with infielders Lawrie, Todd Frazier and Jimmy Rollins and catchers Dioner Navarro and Alex Avila.
"Trying to get them together as much as you can and as often as you can without punishing them," he said.
Whatever Ventura has communicated to his players, it's registering with Rollins, who seems to be getting attached to White Sox business in short order. He told Paul Sullivan not only that the Sox "will get it done this year," but they'll get Ventura an extension as well.