Greg Dobbs: For the Love of the Game

InsidethePark.com's Sean Duade caught up with Rainiers' 3B Greg Dobbs and got the scoop on the most recent Triple-A call up. Read on and find out how the birthday boy fought through a tough career-threatening injury, how he is adapting to Triple-A baseball, and what his general approach to the game has always been.

A year ago Greg Dobbs was rehabbing a ruptured left Achilles tendon in San Antonio, wondering if he was ever going to play professional baseball again. Flip ahead 365 days on the calendar, and Dobbs has put the potentially career-ending injury behind him, and can currently be found at Cheney Stadium, hitting the cover off the ball on a nightly basis for the first-place Tacoma Rainiers.

"I'm just happy to play again," Dobbs said. "Honestly, I'm just thankful and happy that [the injury] didn't end my career and that I was able to get back out on to the field and play.

"I mean, I've told people this before," the third baseman continued, "after that injury it made me evaluate things and it really made me realize how much of a passion I have for this game, and how much I love the game. You know if you have ever had something taken away from you before, and if you're lucky enough to get it back, you tend to appreciate it a little bit more."

And Dobbs has been appreciating the heck out of it.

The University of Oklahoma graduate and California native returned from his injury this April to continue his play for the Double-A San Antonio Missions, where he was slated to play in 2003 before missing all but two games. Batting .400 with runners in scoring position, and .328 overall, Dobbs was given a Texas League All-Star nod, and was set to start the game at third base on June 21 had it not been for the intervention of a higher power - the Mariners front office.

Dobbs, who turns 26 today, was promoted to Tacoma on June 17.

"It was kind of unexpected when it happened," the third baseman said of his promotion to Triple-A Tacoma. "[My wife and I] had to pack up our whole apartment and get here in a day or so. We were just kind of like two chickens with our heads cut off.

"Those first three or four days were really a whirlwind. I get [to Tacoma] from San Antonio and find out I have to play both games of a double-header, it was crazy, but a lot of fun at the same time."

Dobbs went 2-for-6 with a home run in his first two games, but then as the team embarked on a 12-game road trip the following day, all the travel and excitement of the past few days caught up with him. Over a five-game stretch the So-Cal slugger went hitless in 15-straight at-bats, seeing his average dip to a Rey Ordonez like .192.

"It takes time to get acclimated," said Dobbs. "It's obviously a higher level then Double-A, and the pitching here is better, and the players here are better, and you have to get acclimated every time you jump a level. I probably put a little too much pressure on myself at first, and tried to do a little too much [at the plate]."

And get acclimate he did, as the Pacific Coast League pitches know all to well.

Since Dobbs' miniature slump was broken seven games ago, he has put on a one-man hit parade. In his second full week with the Rainiers, Dobbs hit safely in all seven games, having five multi-hit games in the span and going an Ichiro-like 14-for-29 for the last week of June, raising his batting average .152 points to .345.

However, it isn't all great news. Out of the 19 hits that Dobbs has collected over 14 games, only four were for extra bases. For a player who has decent power numbers collected over a four year professional career, the decline in power numbers is slightly alarming.

But Dobbs asserts that he's more concerned with getting hits first, the power will come later.

"I've never been a real big power guy," Dobbs said. "To tell you the truth, I'm a gap to gap hitter, I pride myself in making contact a lot. My goal is to hit every ball hard. Whether it's in the gap, whether it's a single, double, or if it happens to go out of the park that's great, but I wouldn't brand myself as a big power guy, because I'm not.

"I'm not an A.J. Zapp, or a Bucky Jacobsen, or a Justin Leone, those guys just have tremendous power. I'm not there yet, I'm trying to be, and I'd like to develop that sometime soon, but my real forte is making solid contact."

And he's right. Throughout his professional career, excluding his time spent in the Midwest League, the Bermuda triangle for hitters, Dobbs has posted an excellent .337 average.

With his injury fears now in the rearview mirror, and his recent growing pains at the Triple-A level behind him, the future looks bright for Greg Dobbs.


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