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Rollins: 'Sometimes you have to re-establish yourself'
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CLEARWATER, Fla. – One of Ryne Sandberg’s first tasks when he took over as Phillies manager last year was having a frank conversation with Jimmy Rollins.

From one former National League MVP to another, Sandberg told Rollins he needed to get on base more and keep the ball out of the air. Sandberg told Rollins he needed to get back to being a 100-run per season guy.

Rollins, entering his 14th season as the Phillies’ shortstop, has come into Sandberg’s first spring camp with a smile on his face and some pep in his step.

“You can feel that positive spirit,” Rollins said of Camp Sandberg. “Everywhere you turn somebody is pushing you in the right direction. Not that it wasn’t there before. It’s just new.”

Sandberg likes what he has seen of Rollins over the first few days of workouts.

“He’s in excellent shape,” Sandberg said. “You can tell he worked hard this winter. I think he’s having fun and enjoying the program. I told him his goal should be to score 100 runs and he’s on-board with that.”

For the record, Rollins has scored 100 runs six times, including in 2012. He slipped to 65 during what was a disappointing offensive season –- he had a career worst .667 OPS -- last year.

Where will Rollins hit in the lineup?

“Jimmy is a candidate to lead off,” Sandberg said. “He can also hit second.”

Rollins has long considered himself a leadoff man, but is fine hitting second behind Ben Revere.

“Once we got Ben, I was like, ‘All right,’ “ Rollins said. “I don’t really care where I hit. With Ben, it allows me to be flexible.”

Rollins was a main cog on five NL East title teams and a World Series championship team from 2007 to 2011. But the Phils have missed the playoffs the last two seasons. They had their first losing season since 2002 in 2013 and are being picked by many to be an also-ran this season.

Rollins sees that as a challenge.

“Sometimes you have to re-establish yourself and this would be a great year for that,” he said.

Rollins loves the addition of A.J. Burnett and believes his old pal Ryan Howard is primed for a big season.

“The Big Piece is looking like he’s back,” Rollins said. “He looks fantastic. The first thing you notice is he looks hard. His chest has come back. His arms are looking like guns again. We’re doing running drills and the dude’s not limping anymore.”

The Phillies scored just 610 runs last season, their lowest total since 1988.

Rollins believes a healthy tandem of Chase Utley in the three spot and Howard in the four spot, with the addition of Marlon Byrd, will make for more production.

“Print the lineup out,” he said. “That’s pretty damn good.”

Team unity has been a major message of Sandberg’s in camp.

You can hear in Rollins’ voice that it may be sinking in.

“From the first pitch of spring training we have to make sure we stay on the same page,” he said. “If we do that we’re going to be good.”