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The Strike Zone

Is Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg feuding with Jimmy Rollins?

Jimmy Rollins has been riding the pine since Monday. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)Jimmy Rollins has been riding the pine since Monday. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

There's been some drama developing in Clearwater at the Phillies' spring camp between manager Ryne Sandberg and longtime shortstop Jimmy Rollins. That according to Phillies beatwriter Matt Gelb, who noted that Rollins hasn't appeared in a starting lineup for three days now, and that Sandberg and Rollins have not spoken since Monday. To throw some fuel onto that fire, Sandberg didn't explain why Rollins was benched Wednesday, then raved about the "energy and positive influence" of fill-in Freddy Galvis, before delivering a simple "no comment" when asked about Rollins' attitude.

Offered Rollins on Thursday: "Obviously he is upset about something."

Clashes with a manager are nothing new for Rollins, who fought with former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel throughout their tenure together and was benched twice in 2012 by Manuel for not hustling. It's unlikely that Rollins is in any danger of losing his starting shortstop spot—after all, for all the energy he may bring, Freddy Galvis still owns a career line of .230/.269/.375—but it's clear that Sandberg is trying to set the tone early for Rollins. Whether benching Rollins without telling him why and then complimenting other players through the media is the best way to do that, however, remains to be seen. Rollins, it seems, isn't too happy with Sandberg's actions.

"Everyone is allowed to have their own opinion," Rollins said. "It doesn't make it right, but he's the manager, so he gets to have the last say."

The Rollins-Sandberg drama comes in the midst of a spring that's been anything but easy for the Phillies. Earlier this month, the team learned that ace Cole Hamels will likely be out until late April due to shoulder issues. Highly-touted Cuban import Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez has been an abject disaster and has already been re-assigned to minor league camp. The team has struggled to hit so far this spring, including Rollins, who was slowed by a stomach virus at the start of camp. All that's added up to a 3-10 record in Grapefruit League play.

Of course, it's only March 12, which is plenty of time for the team to turn things around and for Rollins and Sandberg to mend their relationship. If they can't, however, this bad spring could get that much worse.

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