For nearly two weeks, the Phillies maintained that the sprained left ankle that had kept shortstop Jimmy Rollins out of the lineup since April 8 wouldn't linger long enough for him to have to be placed on the disabled list.
On Sunday, they bowed to the inevitable.
With Rollins' ankle making little progress, the Phillies finally put him on the disabled list. But because Rollins pinch-hit in Saturday's loss to the Mets, they were unable to backdate the move, leaving the reigning NL MVP ineligible to be activated until at least May 5.
"In retrospect, of course it's a mistake," assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. conceded. "But it's a matter of time and circumstances. You can only go on how the guy feels and what the (medical) studies show. And frankly, he had no symptoms, no swelling. There was nothing out there that made us believe that he wouldn't progress and, in a few days, be ready to go."
Regardless, it marks the first time in Rollins' eight-year major league career that he's heading to the disabled list. Rollins, 29, has never played fewer than 154 games in a season, and his streak of 230 consecutive games played was snapped April 9.
Rollins was injured April 8 at Shea Stadium when he spun awkwardly into second base on a fake pickoff attempt. He hasn't started since April 8, but he has made four pinch-hit appearances, going 1-for-4.
Before Saturday's game, Rollins exhibited better mobility while fielding grounders at shortstop, and he appeared to run well to first base on a grounder in the sixth inning. He also reiterated that he thought he could remain on the active roster, even if he couldn't start.
But after conferring Saturday night with athletic trainer Scott Sheridan, Rollins agreed he'd be best served by not pushing his ankle, even in pinch-hitting situations.
"Hopefully, by the time I'm done (on the disabled list), it'll be 100 percent, and I won't have to think about making a turn and being able to score from first, which is something I pride myself on," Rollins said.
The Phillies should have acted much quicker on making their move to DL Rollins than they did. There should have been no more than a week's time between the injury and the time that he went on the DL, since Rollins is too important to mess around with. In fact, you can argue that unless the sprain was mild enough for him to be back in a couple of days, he should have been DL'd immediately. At this early stage in the season, there is no reason risking perhaps the most important player on your club by placing hopes that he can "return to the lineup in a day or two".
While the injury is described as a sprain and an MRI showed no damage, anytime a player mentions hearing or feeling a "pop" as Rollins did, you have to be careful with the diagnosis. In orthopedic terms, a "pop" isn't good. Don't be surprised if Rollins does, in fact, take longer than 15 days to return to the lineup, or if he isn't 100% once he does return. And as for Saturday's pinch-hitting appearance that set this all in motion, you have to wonder if Rollins would have been called upon if it wasn't against the Mets. If it were against the Marlins, would there have been another move made?
Just something to ponder.