Robinson Has Stood Out

DES MOINES – Iowa Cubs catcher Chris Robinson has been swinging a hot bat all season, which is exactly what he needed coming into 2009. "I'm sure this is probably the best start he's ever had in his career," Iowa manager Bobby Dickerson said of Robinson. "It's opening doors for him, and after the year he had (in 2008), I'm sure he knows his career was definitely at a turning point."

Through 27 games, the 25-year-old right-handed hitting Robinson is batting .379 with one home run, nine doubles, 21 RBI and a .398 on-base percentage.

"He needed to get off to a good start and put together a strong year to further his career, and he's done that so far," Dickerson said.

Robinson's hot play this year is a big turnaround compared to last season, when he played in only 49 games for Double-A Tennessee and batted a shy .214.

Robinson said he is taking big strides forward from last season.

"I've been working with (Iowa hitting coach) Von Joshua and he's tweaked a couple of things," Robinson said of his success at the plate. "But mainly, he is kind of letting me do my thing. He's been a lot of help, and it mainly comes down to confidence.

"As of now, the confidence is there so hopefully I'll ride it out."

Robinson hails from Ontario, Canada, and played college ball at the University of Illinois. He was a third-round draft pick by the Detroit Tigers from in 2005, and the Cubs acquired him just over a year later in a trade for INF Neifi Perez in 2006.

Providing a helping hand to Robinson has been veteran catcher Mark Johnson, Robinson said. Johnson, a first-round draft pick by the Chicago White Sox in 1994, came to Iowa after spending most of 2008 with Triple-A Memphis, appearing in 10 games with the St. Louis Cardinals.

"He's a veteran guy and has been in the big leagues a while," Robinson said of Johnson. "So I've just kind of been a sponge around him and soaked up the way he goes about his business."

Robinson noted that he is in a comfort zone behind the plate. He said the Cubs' pitching staff, which has a 4.62 ERA through 41 games – ninth in the 16-team Pacific Coast League – has been a joy to work with.

"I take a lot of pride in that," Robinson said. "I think as a catcher, that is your number one job – to be able to know the pitchers individually, and I'm lucky to work with such a great staff here. I've had a lot of fun on and off the field, and to catch, so I'm fortunate enough to work with those guys."

Dickerson says that Robinson is doing well at his position.

"He's doing a great job behind the plate," he said. "We're still working on trying to get his times better to second base. If there is anything he needs to continue to work on, it's that -- to get more accurate and quicker in his release time."

Robinson to date has thrown out just three of 24 base-runners (12.5 percent), but he's been solid in all other areas behind the plate.

The Cubs currently are tied for the Pacific Coast League lead with a .982 fielding percentage, and Robinson is tops in that category at his position with a perfect fielding percentage. He has not committed an error in 200 total chances.

After missing a month of the season last year, and recently missing four games with lower back pain, Robinson said he knows first-hand how important it is to make the most of every opportunity. He has done just that this season.

"Anytime you get to play a little bit more, I think you can get in kind of a groove," he said. "I am playing in a lot more games. I didn't earn a whole lot (of playing time) last year and I missed a month of the season. This year, I'm just trying to relax a little bit and have fun, and so far it's been going all right. We've been winning as a team and that always makes things easier."

As for Robinson's bat, Dickerson said he likes what he sees.

"He's doing awesome at the plate right now," Dickerson said. "And he takes (pitches) away and goes all the way with them and he's learned how to turn on balls. We like what we see right now with Chris."

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