Charlie Manuel has said it over and over. He's got two rules - hustle and be on time - and he enforces them for every player on the roster. On Thursday, Jimmy Rollins wasn't on time and Manuel enforced his rule by benching his starting shortstop and leadoff man.
Rollins arrived nearly an hour after the players were supposed to be at Shea Stadium for their 12:05 game against the New York Mets. By that time, Manuel had already found a bottle of white-out to take Rollins name off the lineup card and put in Eric Bruntlett.
Earlier in the season, Rollins was pulled out of a game at home against Cincinnati when Manuel caught him not hustling. After that move, Rollins admitted that he deserved the benching, but has a different opinion this time.
"We're not gonna agree on this one," said Rollins. "I agreed with him last time, but we're not going to agree on this one." Rollins, who often opts to drive himself to games rather than use the team bus, said he was caught up by too many traffic lights in the city. The nine mile trip from the team hotel to the stadium apparently took Rollins over an hour to maneuver.
Bruntlett went 3-for-4 with two doubles on the day, helping to ease Rollins' benching. Of course, Rollins has a career .280 average against Mets starter Oliver Perez, making it a bad day for him to be benched. Rollins also came into the game with a ten-game hitting streak and saw that snapped when he was called upon to pinch-hit in the ninth and grounded out to end the game.
Manuel, Rollins and the rest of the players on the team that talked about the incident all believe it's over and won't be a distraction to the club as they battle to regain their hold on first place in the NL East. For his part, Manuel has closed the issue. "That's all I've got to say about it. I talked to him about it. That's all I want to say," stressed Manuel.