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Monday, June 10
Updated: June 12, 2:19 PM ET
Rolen reacts to reports of clubhouse animosity

Associated Press

CLEVELAND -- Scott Rolen's turbulent season with the Philadelphia Phillies reached a low point on Monday.

Rolen likes Cleveland
After Tuesday's game against the Indians in Clevelend, Scott Rolen said he would be "very interested" in signing with the Indians as a free agent after this season.

"Jacobs Field is one of the best places to play in America," he said. "'Time will tell, but I am very open minded and very much interested when the Indians are brought up."

The soon-to-be free agent third baseman, who has been at odds with Philadelphia's front office, reacted to a report that said some of his teammates were tired of his uncertain status.

''I think it is disappointing that it has come to this,'' Rolen said before the Phillies opened a three-game series with the Cleveland Indians. ''I don't know what else to say. I don't think I've done anything wrong.''

Rolen was upset with a story that quoted an anonymous Phillies player saying ''it's obvious he doesn't want to be here, so it would probably be better that something was done.''

The report also said another Phillies veteran called Rolen a clubhouse cancer. However, the word cancer was not attributed to anyone, adding to Rolen's displeasure.

''I wondered why the word cancer was in there and not in quotes,'' Rolen said. ''I think I get along very well with a lot of guys.''

Rolen, 27, is not happy in Philadelphia. Reports this weekend said the club has increased its efforts to trade him before he is eligible to leave as a free agent after this season.

Twice he has turned down potential $140 million deals to stay with the Phillies, who drafted him in 1993.

Rolen has struggled this season as the contract mess has swirled around him.

A career .285 hitter, Rolen entered Monday night batting just .256 with nine homers and 37 RBI for the disappointing Phillies, currently in last place in the NL East.

Philadelphia manager Larry Bowa said Rolen has not let him down.

''He has been very professional about it,'' Bowa said. ''His defense has been great and he's starting to swing the bat like he always has. When he doesn't get a hit, he saves us two runs a game.''

Bowa would hate to see his three-time Gold Glove third baseman leave -- via trade or free agency.

''He's the best third baseman in the NL,'' Bowa said. ''He's earned that free-agency right. That's the process, and he has earned it.''

Rolen said he won't let the ongoing distractions prevent him from doing his job.

''I am going to continue to come here every day and try to be as professional as possible,'' he said. ''It has been a difficult season. I think if we got off to a better start and were winning ballgames it would not be so bad.

''I never saw what was wrong with my trying to become a free agent. Maybe I didn't have that right, I don't know. It's not that big a deal. It happens every year throughout baseball, but I guess it is not supposed to happen here.''

Rolen said he knows the Phillies have been busy trying to work out a deal.

''I am sure the organization will do what is best for them. I'm aware of the situation,'' Rolen said. ''I was aware of it in the offseason. Whether I am traded or not, traded is not my call.''

Phillies reliever Ricky Bottalico supports Rolen, and said he hasn't seen any animosity toward his teammate.

''It's not Scott's fault that our record is not as good as it should be and just because he has a personal opinion on becoming a free agent, for somebody to say that is just not right,'' he said. ''You are talking about a guy who goes out and gives 100 percent every game. How can you say that? I've played with Scott for years and I do not see anything different in him.

''He comes to the ballpark, does his work, tries hard to win. As long as he is playing hard there is nothing you can say bad. And he is playing hard.''

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