While he doesn’t own an emergency catcher’s mitt, Drew Robinson has a glove for just about every other position on the field. That’s one of the reasons the St. Louis Cardinals traded for the 26-year old utility-man this past December.
“I don’t necessarily like one position more than the other,” shared Robinson, who played six different positions for Texas last season. “I just kind of like different things for each position. You know, like, different plays at each one. Second base, I love turning double plays. Center field, I like going and getting it. Third base, I like the bunt play, coming in barehanded, stuff like that. Each position has its own separate thing that makes it fun, and I just try to have the most fun at each position.”
Unlike some players who transition from playing one position to learning another spot on the fly, Robinson has been used to playing multiple spots. Prior to growing five or six inches before his junior year of high school, he described himself as “undersized” and was already in a utility role.
“I was the kind of guy where I didn’t really pitch much when I was younger, so whoever did pitch, I would just go play their position,” Robinson said. “So I’ve never really stuck at one position for more than a year or two at a time. I’m just comfortable moving around and outfield might be more natural for my body build, but I’ve worked my way to be more comfortable in infield too, so that’s something over time I’ve gotten used to it.”
Having been in the role for so long, Robinson is also comfortable with his off-season plan to prepare for each potential spot he could be playing.
“I usually try to pick 2-3 positions each day, try to get a little bit of work at,” he said. “If we’re doing ground balls, I’ll just go to second or third for the day and if I have time I’ll go to shortstop too. And then usually we’re taking batting practice and stuff so it’s easy to get reads off the bat in the outfield. So, it’s pretty easy in the offseason, and once we get to season, spring training, stuff like that, I’ll just usually pick two positions and get my work out there and the next day go to two other positions. Something like that.”
Besides his defensive flexibility, Robinson also provides a left-handed bat with some power, hitting an even 100 home runs in nine minor league seasons. With a right-handed heavy bench, that could provide a distinct advantage in competing for a roster spot. However, Robinson has been prone to the strikeout–being fanned 99 times in his 217 ML at-bats.
“I mean, it is alerting, but it’s something I don’t look too much into because I think it was a little bit higher because of things I was dealing with,” he said. “You know, playing time, I was playing through a little bit of injury when I did get my little opportunity of playing time at the beginning of the season last year when I had most of them. But obviously it’s something I need to work on, so at the same time it’s something I focus on a little bit in the offseason and in my drill work and stuff like that. So hopefully it’s something I can cut down and prove to them that I have worked on it.”
The Cardinals starting eight is pretty clear heading into Spring Training and the team is likely to carry 13 pitchers again this season. Francisco Pena figures to be the back-up catcher and Jose Martinez and Jedd Gyorko should both be on the roster. While nothing is official, that essentially leaves only one open spot on the roster. Robinson is looking to be that guy.
“Once I got the news (of the trade) I was excited and I knew that’s just the first step of trying to come make the team,” he said. “Anything I can do to help us, I know breaking into the big leagues you have to prove yourself to get that consistent playing time so it’s just part of the process I feel like. And hopefully I can prove to the team that I deserve those at bats, that playing time.”
photo credit: Brian Stull/STLBaseballWeekly.com; Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports