If you routinely check the list of baseball transactions, then you’re likely familiar with the story of David Rollins. The journeyman pitcher has made that list more often than any other player this offseason, and more times than one player should honestly have to endure.
Since Nov. 18, Rollins has changed teams five times. That number is expected to reach six this week after he was again designated for assignment by the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday.
Unfortunately, that’s the life of a fringe major leaguer. The 26-year-old left-hander is past the point of being a prospect, but he’s talented enough to have earned a major league opportunity, having pitched 34 2/3 innings for the Seattle Mariners over the last two seasons. He’s respected and perhaps coveted to some degree, just not enough to warrant holding when there’s a roster crunch.
Not surprisingly, the relentless and unforgiving cycle has taken a toll on Rollins. As ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports, he was just starting to feel comfortable that his second stint — this winter — with the Cubs might last. He even made the 1,500-mile drive from his home in Texas to the Cubs’ spring training facility in Arizona hoping and perhaps even expecting to compete for a spot on their opening day roster.
Then the phone rang with the news he’s heard all too often this winter. Now the process starts over again as he awaits the next phone call
“To me, it sucks,” Rollins told Crasnick this week. “At the end of the day, it’s a business. I get it. But I’m still a human. I keep thinking, ‘Teams like me enough to pick me up, but nobody wants to take a chance on me.’ It’ll play games with your head, that’s for sure.”
After starting his winter with the Seattle Mariners, Rollins has gone on to join the Texas Rangers (twice), Chicago Cubs (twice) and Philadelphia Phillies. Yet he’s never been around long enough to don their uniform or take a team photo.
It’s a brutal dose of the reality that we rarely consider when following baseball. Guys come and go all the time, but the process they go through when placed on waivers or involved in trades is often lost on us. The unknown can cause a lot of stress, especially when it uproots a family or leaves them in limbo. If there’s a silver lining for Rollins, we suppose it’s that this is happening during the offseason, not in the midst of a hectic regular season schedule. But that’s a very small consolation for not knowing what tomorrow will bring. [/restrict]