Schmidt speaks leadoff and Rollins listens

"Long drive...that ball's outta here, homerun Michael Jack Schmidt!" Who knew that homerun hitting Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt would be the one to get Jimmy Rollins to learn the true meaning of what it takes to be a leadoff man? Rollins, who at times fancies himself a homerun hitter, is changing his approach thanks to a discussion with Schmidt.

Last season, Schmidt and Pat Burrell were seemingly joined at the hip and it was Schmidty who taught Burrell to be more selective. That insight helped Burrell cut down on his strikeouts and has made him into one of the more dangerous hitters in the league. Somewhat ironic, considering that Schmidt did his share of swinging through pitches. Now, the advice is perhaps even more ironic as Schmidt tutored Rollins on being a leadoff man.

For all of his abilities, Rollins has quickly become known for having a stubborn streak to say the least. Greg Gross talked to him and Larry Bowa did the same. Finally, Bowa dropped Rollins out of the leadoff spot this spring and even that didn't seem to get through to the young shortstop. Finally, the memories and words of a Hall of Famer did the trick.

Schmidt talked of his pal Pete Rose and how pitchers hated to face him because he was a pest. He was always finding some way to get on base and when he did get on base, he was a locomotive that seemingly couldn't be stopped. Schmidt stressed how opposing pitchers feared Rose and how he was afforded the kind of respect that Rollins wants. In fact, Schmidt told Rollins that a lot of pitchers feared Rose more than they ever did the homerun hitters, because it was Rose doing a lot of the damage on the bases.

Perhaps more than the talk of respect, Schmidt also planted another thought in Rollins' mind. Guys who hit second in the order don't win MVP awards, but guys who hit leadoff do. Finally, a way to get through to the kid. Rollins wants respect and the quickest way to get it would be to win an MVP award or at least be in the running.

However it got done, the fact is that it may have finally gotten done. Jimmy Rollins, after a conversation with Michael Jack Schmidt, just might be on the right path. It worked for Pat Burrell and if Rollins heeds the advice, it may just work for him, too.

Philly Baseball Insider Top Stories