DENVER -- Sometimes, it takes a teammate to get an MVP to listen. In accepting a stint on the 15-day disabled list, thus allowing his sprained left ankle finally to heal, Jimmy Rollins credited a weight-room conversation with J.C. Romero as helping him see the benefits. "I pretty much told him, 'Rest your body,'" Romero said. "It's common sense. Jimmy's game is based on speed, turns and stuff like that. When you have such a good player with that type of injury, it's better to shut it down. If the speed isn't there, everything else is going to be affected."
Don't misunderstand. Romero wants Rollins on the field and knows the extreme difficulty in acknowledging when one isn't in top condition. Rollins admirably hoped to be able to contribute off the bench, while he healed, and return sooner than 15 days. Buying into that hope, the Phillies allowed Rollins to continue being day-to-day as long as possible. In the end, Romero may have helped Rollins see that he was hurting the team by giving manager Charlie Manuel one less option. "Everybody knows that Jimmy is the big dog, but take the 15 days and get that ankle ready," Romero said. "When he comes back, he won't have to worry about limping or how the ankle will affect his swing. I admire his game. I see him as my captain. I thought it was my job to at least mention something. In a funny way, I was telling him, 'I don't need you now. I need you in July, and August and September.' That stuck with him. "When he comes back, I know he'll help us." Knowing the obvious importance of Rollins -- he didn't win the National League Most Valuable Player last year by accident -- the Phillies prepare to be officially without their catalyst until at least May 5. Before Sunday, there was always a chance he might suddenly appear in the starting lineup. "He's a big part of our team," Manuel said. "He's one of our superstar players. One guy can destroy your whole season." Rollins' void leaves the Phillies without their leadoff-hitting sparkplug, Gold Glove shortstop and confident field leader. On a team that requires all 25 guys, Rollins is at the top of the list. "He's very important because of the shortstop situation, the switch-hitting, the defense, his offensive numbers, his speed, setting our offense up ..." Manuel said, listing about every facet of Rollins' game. He left out clubhouse leadership. Perhaps that's where Chase Utley comes in. The premier second baseman is off to a blistering start with a .351 average and eight homers entering Monday. Manuel said Utley's approach won't change. "This guy plays the same way every day," Manuel said. "It doesn't matter who is hurt on our team, he plays the same way. He expects to have a big game every day. When he doesn't, he expects to have a big day tomorrow. He's one of the big reasons for the attitude on our team, as far as resilience. That's where his leadership comes into play. Chase Utley is a very, very, very tough player. I've been in the game a long time, and he's just as tough as any player I've ever seen."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.