2012 Spring Training: Is This Reds Third Baseman Scott Rolen's Last Dance?

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2012 Spring Training: Is This Reds Third Baseman Scott Rolen's Last Dance?
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Scott Rolen

Let me preface this piece by saying that I am a huge Scott Rolen fan. I think he is one of probably the five best defensive third-basemen in MLB history.

He has had a career that is certainly worthy of a close look for the Hall of Fame. The eight-time Gold Glove winner has fashioned a career that is offensively better than the great Brooks Robinson. Of course Robinson had 16 Gold Gloves (all consecutively), however he also had played seven more years than Rolen.

Keep in mind as well, that Robinson played primarily in an era where there were fewer third-basemen to choose from. I am not attempting to diminish his prowess, merely stating the obvious. He would have won them if there were 20 teams in the league. He was that good with a glove.

Injuries have proved to be Rolen's undoing. Last season he was only able to play 65 games, and it hurt the Reds. He did land a spot on the All-Star team, however that was due to injuries to other players.

If healthy, Rolen could provide the Reds with a solid season. Realistically he could hit 20-25 homers and bat over .280. Some causes for concern scream to me.

"I feel good, without a doubt," Rolen said. "We're at the point where I want to stay feeling good. I'm not going to jam as many at-bats as I possibly can in, in a panic situation before Opening Day. I want to stay fresh and stay healthy to start the season."

Doesn't that sound strange?

A man so fragile in his own mind, that he has to basically forfeit spring training to be fresh on opening day. That is tantamount to a boxer being afraid to spar because he doesn't want to get hurt before the big fight.

Should Rolen retire after 2012?

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If it works, God bless! I realize that spring training is for the rookies to shine and the veterans to shake off the rust. It just seems weird for someone to come out and say it.

Just like his colleague Chipper Jones, I am afraid the light at the end of the tunnel is nearer than he suspects. Jones should just retire before the season starts and be done with it.

What does he have to prove? He won't hit 500 dingers, and he doesn't need to. His career has Hall of Fame written all over it.

The same cannot be said for Rolen. He will need to twist and turn and be hung out to dry in his quest for baseball's Holy Grail. He may not get there on the first ballot, but I am confident he will be enshrined.

Unless he finishes 2012 injury free and plays 125+ games, he should just ride into that sweet night. Or, as many before him, he could become a coach on the Reds team and give Juan Francisco some expert tutelage.

I will always be a Rolen fan. Please understand, I am not here to bury Rolen, but to praise him.

—Caesar Cliffius.

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