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Rollins wants Sabathia, but Phillies' GM isn't buying it

October 24, 2008|Bill Shaikin | Shaikin is a Times staff writer

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. — If Jimmy Rollins has his way, the Philadelphia Phillies could have the best 1-2 pitching punch in baseball next season: Cole Hamels and CC Sabathia.

Sabathia has been friends with Rollins since he played with Rollins' brother on an amateur baseball team in the Bay Area. Rollins smiled at the question of where he thought Sabathia might play next season.

"Hopefully here," Rollins said in the Phillies' clubhouse. "I've got his number."

The Angels, Dodgers and New York Yankees are expected to be the leading contenders for Sabathia, although the Milwaukee Brewers, San Francisco Giants and New York Mets could be among other suitors.

The market for Sabathia, the top pitcher in free agency, could be set by the contracts signed by the Mets' Johan Santana and the Giants' Barry Zito. Santana signed for six years and $137.5 million, Zito for seven years and $126 million.

The Phillies play in the fourth-largest market in the United States, and in a new ballpark. Nonetheless, General Manager Pat Gillick said the Phillies did not plan to bid on Sabathia.

"I just don't see it," Gillick said. "The length of contract is not something the Phillies would really be interested in."

Swing away

The exaggerated shift used against Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard -- three infielders on the right side, with the third baseman behind the bag at second -- means that Howard could bunt for a single whenever he wanted. And, if he hit a ground ball on the left side, it almost certainly would get out of the infield.

Yet Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel said he would not even suggest to Howard that he try for an infield single. Howard led the majors with 48 home runs.

"When he hits the ball in the air, that's when he's successful," Manuel said before Game 2. "It doesn't matter where you play. He can hit the ball through the shift. When he hits the ball, he hits the ball real hard, and he can hit the ball right by people."

Howard had two hits in Game 2, a double over the head of center fielder B.J. Upton and a single on a hard ground ball through the right side.

Hello, Muffy

Rays Manager Joe Maddon asked his players to wear blue blazers and khakis for the team flight today.

"Going to Philadelphia, preppy kind of a situation," Maddon said. "I just thought I'd give the guys a taste of that."

Maddon said he would enforce a traditional road trip dress code -- coats, ties and slacks -- if it guaranteed the team would win.

"Actually," Maddon said, "the clothes they're wearing cost a lot more than some of these polyester shirts and pants."

Tighten up

Of the 23 days between the end of the regular season and Game 1 of the World Series, the Rays played on 11 and the Phillies nine. Commissioner Bud Selig said he would like to subtract some of the off days within the October schedule. He won't force Fox to revert to a Saturday start for the World Series -- the network wants the series to start on a Wednesday -- but he could tighten a postseason schedule in which no team has played on more than two consecutive days.


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