Improvement the Name of the Game for Dobbs

In the Arizona Fall League there is always talk about repetitions, about tools, about mechanics and footwork. Talk to Greg Dobbs and you'll hear a guy talking about things they talk about in the majors.

"I know I'm not at the level I need to be mentally," Dobbs says, this coming from a guy who spent the last month of the 2004 season with the Mariners.

Apparently he picked up some things.

"At the big league level everybody is pretty much the same," said Dobbs. "That's why those guys are there. I take the game very seriously, sometimes too seriously I guess, but if you're mentally prepared you have a huge advantage. Everybody has the same physical tools, what I am learning is that the mental side of the game is the biggest thing."

Dobbs speaks quietly if not calmly, like he's thinking about something else, which of course, he is. He's thinking about the game.

"I consider myself a student of the game," he said. "I study it. I see new things with almost every pitch. You can learn from everything. You can learn when you do good things, when you do bad things, when you make mistakes. You can learn from all of that. And you have to."

Progress is the name of the game for Dobbs. He started as a first baseman, was moved to the outfield and now he's at third base.

"Mike Goff is sort of the minor league infield instructor for all of the Mariners minor league affiliates, and he's my manager down here so he's worked a lot with me," said Dobbs. "He's basically taught me everything I know, and everything I use at third base."

That must be a lot, because the Mariners consider Dobbs one of the best fielders in their organization.

"He's come a long way in just two years at third base," said Goff. "We're just working on things feeling more natural for him over there. He just works so hard."

The other point of emphasis this AFL season for Dobbs is power. He's a fantastic gap-to-gap hitter, but he failed to generate the extra base hits in Triple-A and in Seattle that he did in the lower minors.

"Yeah, now that I'm at third I am looking to drive the ball more," said Dobbs. "I don't think I'll ever lose that gap-to-gap ability. It's something I've always done, and I think it's valuable."

Goff isn't worried about it.

"He uses the whole field, and that's tougher to teach than power is," said the Peoria Javelinas manager. "We're working with him on his awareness at the plate, but he'll hit for power eventually. That will come."

The conversation turns back to the mental side of the game quickly when talking to Dobbs.

"I'm just learning every day, and I want to keep learning every day," he said. "I see new things all the time, and I'm glad. Once I've peaked, once there's nothing more for me to learn, I think it's probably time I got out of the game."

By all indications, that won't be happening any time soon.

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