Padres Prospect Interview: Dan Robertson

Winning MVP honors in the Northwest League in 2008 did little to satiate the desire of San Diego Padres prospect Dan Robertson. That is just the start for the outfielder and his team first approach.

Greg Riddoch told us a story about you getting mad at not getting into the championship game during the end of the year among an internal hitting contest with your teammates. Does that desire to win so badly every negatively affect your game?

Dan Robertson: My team didn't stink – the judging was a little different because of my competitiveness, we will say. I wanted to win. I was getting frustrated. I wanted to be able to divvy up the money with my teammates. I wanted to have more money in my pocket than when I came. It didn't work out.

It is a true story (laughing).

Does that competitive fire ever affect you negatively?

Dan Robertson: You know what – I don't think so. I think I am 23 now and have learned to balance it. When I was younger, I was so competitive that I could take a bad day off the field.

Now, I am competitive but am such a team guy that I feel that I am so hardnosed that it might help someone start something inside. It could help in the long run. I don't just do it for myself. I was brought up that way, especially playing football.

I think it is more for everyone. You play off your teammates – that is how all sports work. You feed off each other.

Riddoch also put your name in the same sentence as Tony Gwynn – a player that is always striving to do more and more and more, always looking for that edge. What does that say about you and how does it make you feel hearing that?

Dan Robertson: Riddoch is a great guy and Tony Gwynn is a Hall of Famer. I got a chance to shake Tony Gwynn's hand at Oregon State when we put a shellacking on San Diego State. It was great to meet him.

To be in the same breath – in my first year – is great to hear. It fuels you even more because you know you have that talent inside you.

I guess I demand a lot out of myself, maybe more than the next coach demands. Nobody knows more about me than me. I know that if I keep myself in line, they are going to see that and give me advice that I need – something I haven't figured out. For the rest, I know what I have to do. I try and take advantage of that on an everyday basis. Everyday we strive to be perfect in life and it is the same thing in baseball.

We are not going to hit .400 or .500, but if you strive to hit .400 or .500 every single day and strive to be the best you can be, you are not going to be disappointed in the end. That is the mindset I have been able to have.

As a late round pick, do you feel like you have to always be looking over your shoulder or that you must perform or they could take away an opportunity for you?

Dan Robertson: As a late round pick, I never have to look over my shoulder because there is no one behind me (laughs). There are all these guys that are in front of me. I can't control what anyone else does. I can only control what I do. It is a choice how you come to the yard everyday and perform everyday. It is a choice I make. If I get a chance to move up, it is because I am getting better everyday and it is showing in my play. It is proving in how I can get better. I will continue to move forward. I am trying to take it day-by-day an dbe better than I was yesterday.

You come off an impressive season with MVP honors at Eugene. What did you feel like you had to do this offseason to prepare for a full 140-game season of baseball?

Dan Robertson: Being able to go an extra 70 games; 70 games was a lot and I feel like I was doing well and had a good season. It didn't really hit me until I got back to Peoria and got to see my name next to some of the things I did. It really hit me.

I guess preparing for full season is to have that confidence. ‘I did it for 70, why not 140?' Understand that you are good enough to do that and patient enough and confident enough.

Also, it is new season. What I did last year was last year. Keep the same confidence that I am able to do those things and carry them over. Once you get down on yourself, the game will beat you up enough. Then it is like quicksand – you're sinking.

One of the things that was said about you was your work ethic in batting practice and fielding. How does that help you prepare for the game?

Dan Robertson: I could go either way with that because you want to show up when the lights are on. I feel that if you do that everyday with repetition - I know I am bad in school but if I study, I am going to be able to perform well on that test.

Everyday we prepare for a test in the cage, on the field, and if you are doing it at game speed, when you get to the big time, it will actually slow it down. Your adrenaline rises and you are to a new level. With the confidence you have established through the week in BP or fielding – you have done it before. There is nothing that will fool you. If you take that approach, the sky is the limit.

Do you think that attitude rubs off on teammates?

Dan Robertson: I hope it does. I got a chance to be teammates with James Darnell – I told all the people when I got back home that a lot of the stigma of professional ball where everyone is about themselves and not the team isn't true. When you have a guy as big as Darnell and he is running around the field just like me – that says a lot about him. It says a lot when Blake Tekotte and Sawyer Carroll are the same way. All of it rubs off.

When the going gets rough – it is about winning. The big club doesn't care about what you do. They care about winning. We didn't have the best record, but they are looking for guys that can help them win. When the cookie crumbles, it is all about winning. What can you do to help me win? If you come to the yard with a winning attitude everyday, people have to be able to feel that. If they can, that gets me more excited to go to the park and share it with teammates. If they are not its just them.

You have heard the term ‘throwback player'. What does that mean to you?

Dan Robertson: It means a lot. I think of guys like Charlie Hustle – Pete Rose, Hank Aaron, Brooks Robinson – the guys that stuck their nose in the dirt. That was the way the game was played.

This game that we play, as much as it is a finesse game, it is about not being afraid of who is on the mound, not being afraid of taking someone out on a double play, the game is on the line and you have to get in to home plate – that is how you should play the game. It is the way I was brought up.

I kind of think of myself as a throwback player stuck in a modern player because I have to have my pants down over my cleats, use the wrist tape and I have to wear batting gloves.

It is a great compliment to be in the breath of some of those guys.

What will be a successful 2009 season for Dan Robertson – besides a repeat as Player of the Year, of course?

Dan Robertson: That would be great. I think it would be fantastic to get over that hump and get into the playoffs. We just missed in Eugene. I was told as a little kid, the big time is where you make it. If I am not in the big leagues yet, I mine as well win a championship in Fort Wayne. Once again, they only care about winning. You are a reflection of the organization. If you are on a team that gets a ring presented to you, that is what you work for. Yes, it is to progress as a player, but it is also to win. Performance is based on winning. If you are not focused on winning and you just want to have good statistics, it might not be progression in some areas.

A successful 2009 would be starting and being impact the team and winning in the end. Whatever I do is just a bonus.

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