Winning shortstop job ‘just beginning’ for Jimmy Rollins

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Jimmy Rollins hit four home runs for the Sox this spring. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The White Sox made three roster moves Wednesday, including the optioning of right-hander Scott Carroll to Class AAA Charlotte and outrighting right-hander Jacob Turner to Charlotte. But the third move, while a formality, officially introduced Jimmy Rollins as the team’s Opening Day shortstop.

The Sox purchased the contract of the 37-year-old former National League MVP, who had been signed to a minor-league deal.

“Obviously the No. 1 goal was to make the team,” said Rollins, who took the last day of spring training off after batting .341 with four homers and 12 RBI in Cactus League games. “To win the job is great. That’s just the beginning. Just go out there and be productive when I get my opportunities to play, and when I’m getting my days off and rest, get ready for the next day.”

Rollins, a former MVP with the Phillies, will be paid $2 million. He will get a fair share of days off, with Tyler Saladino as the backup.

“They’ll be some splitting it up,” manager Robin Ventura said. “I want to make sure Jimmy stays fresh. He’ll probably be the one starting on Monday. But I think where he’s at, it’s better to keep him fresh. I think he’s going to be a better player. At his age, he does well when he’s had these days off, even here.”

“Definitely,” Rollins said. “I know it takes a toll physically. Getting a day or two off here and there does a lot.”

The Sox have 29 players left in major-league camp: 13 pitchers, three catchers, seven infielders and six outfielders. The 40-man roster remains at 37. Turner, who signed a $1.5 million contract as a free agent, cleared waivers after struggling this spring and will remain in the organization.

Rollins has 2,422 hits in a career that began in 2000 with the Philadelphia Phillies. In his first year out of the organization, he struggled with the Dodgers in 2015 with a .224/.285/.358 slash line over 563 plate appearances, although he did hit 13 homers and contributed 12 stolen bases. While not the player he was in his prime, Rollins provides a heady presence in the middle of the infield and played adequate defense this spring.

“When he’s fresh he’s got some good range,” Ventura said. “He’s making the plays he has to make. Is his range as good as it was early in his career? No. But he’s pretty good with it right now.”

“We play the game to go out there and be successful, help our team,” Rollins said. “I’m going to do that and what the numbers are at the end of the season are where they are. I plan to have a good season and to be a contributing player to a winning team.”

Rollins said he likes the Sox’ clubhouse, which has plenty of veteran types this season.

“I don’t know what it was like last year but I hear we’re in a better place already,” Rollins said. “We have guys that have played on winning teams and you need that. It’s important to have guys who know what it’s like to win. When things are going the other way, when you’re not doing things that are conducive to winning, it stands out and you make a correction because you know better. But if you’ve never been in that situation, you are like ‘maybe this is what it is.’ And I’ve been there on both sides. We have players who want to win, and have won, so if things start to go left we can right the ship.”

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