Blog Archives

February 20, 2013

The Rolen Legacy

Rolen long-tossing before the gameLast week, Scott Rolen announced that he would not be returning to the Cincinnati Reds for the start of the 2013 season.

“Right now I’m simply not ready to make a commitment. I would like to leave my options open, without closing any doors. I am looking forward to all of the challenges, both personally and professionally, I will face in the future.”

The statement is the definition of non-committal. Rolen was unable to commit to another full season and also unable to commit to never playing professional baseball again. Aging in baseball is not an easy thing for the player, and no one demonstrates that more than Rolen.

After multiple shoulder injuries and surgeries, he arrived in Cincinnati a shell of his former self. But he managed a great season in 2010 and pushed the Reds to their first winning record in a decade and their first playoff appearance in 15 years. Unfortunately, he was never able to recapture that and performed poorly in both 2011 and 2012. The decision has to be hard.

Cincinnati Enquirer reporter John Fay had a nice article about Rolen, reflecting on his legacy. Fay in his career has covered Hall of Famer Barry Larkin and future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey, Jr. He compares them to Rolen in the injury related trials they faced towards the ends of their careers and then reflects on Rolen’s legacy.

Rolen will be missed. He was a great leader and a great teammate. But, in a way, his work with the Reds was done. His legacy is in his lessons he taught.

“I got everything I needed from him playing beside him,” Joey Votto said. “I learned a tremendous amount. You can always learn, but the two or three years I had with him were not wasted. I tell you what: He changed my path as a player. He was a shining example of the kind of player I want to be. Simply because of how quiet he was and how respected he was throughout baseball.”

Votto definitely carries that air of quiet confidence that Rolen had. There’s no doubt that Rolen taught Votto and other Reds players a lot and will be missed. Although Rolen has expressed no interest in coaching, I do hope he has the opportunity to teach and lead. And heck, if he can manage to be the Rolen of old for a month, it sure would be nice to see him back in action one more time.

June 20, 2012

Scott Rolen: soon to be baseball empty nester

MLB columnist Anthony Castrovince has an article today on Scott Rolen. It reads almost like a eulogy to a career that isn’t actually dead yet, but it highlights a lot of what makes Rolen so awesome:

  • He’s down-to-earth – “I have a job, you know,” he said. “That’s the short answer, I guess. Having four surgeries and rehab, I don’t like any of that. But I wasn’t given a choice, necessarily. That’s kind of where I am and what I’m doing. We’re free to feel sorry for ourselves, and I do. But I have a job. I play baseball for the Cincinnati Reds, and I take it very seriously. I have a responsibility, an accountability to get myself in physical and mental shape and go to work.”
  • He’s in touch with reality – “I’m 100 percent of whatever I’ve got,” Rolen said with a laugh. “That’s about it. I don’t know what that equates to [relative to] the rest of the league.”
  • He knows there’s more to life than baseball – “I feel like I’m more valuable,” he said, “than just where my locker space is.”

In my opinion, Scott Rolen has been a rare example of a “veteran presence” actually making a difference on a ball team. Especially when he first came around, the Reds were fielding a lot of young guys with more talent on the field than sense about how to comport themselves. I suspect he played a big part in shaping the grown-up team you see today. I think the Reds can’t really give Joey Votto the captain’s C while Rolen is still on the roster.

I don’t want to add to the eulogy of Rolen’s career, but I do think his best contributions have already been made. And they’ve been really important ones. I hope that the rest of his last contract year with the team is kind to the guy, and lets him go out on top like the class act that he is.

August 3, 2011

Scott Rolen Has More Shoulder Surgery

The Cincinnati Reds announced today that their 3rd baseman Scott Rolen had arthroscopic shoulder surgery and will be out an additional 4-6 weeks. Rolen has been on the disabled list since July 22.

Cincinnati Enquirer beat reporter John Fay writes about the procedure.

The procedure was just to clean it up. Four to six weeks, which is projected to be out, still takes you to early to mid-September. I would not be shocked if he’s done for the year — depending where the Reds are in the standings when he’s ready.

If Rolen doesn’t return this season, he should be all the more healthy for 2012. And now Todd Frazier has a great opportunity to show what he can do, so long as Dusty Baker resists that urge to play veteran Miguel Cairo.

August 2, 2011

Reds Due to Come Off DL

With the team finally avoiding losses in consecutive games, I find myself looking around to see what’s next to keep the winning going. And, though we’re on the wrong side of the non-waiver trade deadline, there’s still going to be some new additions to the roster in the near future as guys some off the DL.

First of all, Scott Rolen is eligible to come off the DL on Friday. Unfortunately, though, he probably won’t because that shoulder is not better yet. It sounds like the guy could undergo another surgery to clean up the shoulder. It sucks being 36.

Meanwhile, Zack Cozart is eligible to come off the DL on Monday after that grotesque hyper-extending of his elbow that still makes me shudder to think about. Reports are, though, that the inflammation isn’t down all the way, so he probably will take a few days longer than that to be back in proper bat-swinging form.

And finally, since the Rule of Three demands that I mention another player, Jared Burton pitched two scoreless rehab innings tonight. You can never have too much pitching.

July 20, 2010

Scott Rolen’s Philanthropic Summer Camp

And the light did shineth down on RolenThere was a lovely Scott-Rolen-is-a-Saint story in the Toronto Sun yesterday. It’s about the camp he’s built for kids who are sick or who have sick family members who need a week of outdoorsy fun.

It is not specific to children attacked by one cruel disease.

“It’s for the kid walking home from school, head down, kicking stones,” Rolen said. “He may be healthy, but maybe mom is sick, or his father. It’s for kids who have spent too much time in the hospital.”

The Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis makes the recommendations.

Four cabins have been built, along with a man-made lake. There are paddle boats, a petting zoo, a lodge with a fireplace, two horses, a Little League diamond, a soccer field and a tree house. And they’re not finished.

“My brother, Todd, and I came up with the idea of building a camp for children and their families for a week,” Rolen said. “To have fun, have a blast. Let’s play. ”

That’s what they do.

It’s the kind of do-good-goodness that will have you furtively wiping away a tear before anyone walks by your cube and sees you crying like a little girl.

This little bit, right at the end struck me:

“This game we play, it isn’t real,” Rolen said. “The game has given me great value in my personal life. It’s like I always tell Joey Votto. There’s no karma in baseball: Bad guys can do well in this game. You can be happy in this game and not be happy in life.

“Would you rather be 4-for-4 with, two home runs and knock in six and be divorced? Or would you rather go home to your family?”

I just wonder: why single out Votto for this message? I imagine work-life balance would be particularly challenging when your work *is* a game. What do you do for relaxation? Lay bricks?