Padres Prospect Interview: Dan Robertson

Undersized, will have to prove himself each year – those may be two attributes that San Diego Padres prospect Dan Robertson has to carry around, but the outfielder does it with intensity and pride, backing up his bravado with quality play in all facets. If it's the little things that Robertson must do well, he has it covered. Ask Dave Roberts - someone who sees him sticking in the big leagues.

You get into a big league game during spring training and hit an RBI. What was that experience like over there?

Dan Robertson: I felt very comfortable. Last year, I know when I got my first time in there, I was really nervous. It's kind of hard to hit when you've got your knees shaking and you're staring at potential Hall of Famers or even All Stars. You look at Paul Konerko, you've got A.J. Pierzynski behind the plate. I think it was more the experiences that you get nervous about, but being in a Big League game with a runner at third felt like it was just another day. You forget that it's just a game of baseball. It doesn't matter who's playing, who's throwing. You still have to get the job done. I was trying to get the ball a little up. I still got on top of it though, but it was great. It was an experience I know I won't forget.

It seems like there's an emphasis on this Petco Park small ball mentality, this aggressive style. Does that play into your strengths?

Dan Robertson: I don't really know what my strengths are, what my weaknesses are. I just know that I'm just going to keep playing the game the way I know how to play. That's why we have all these guys in the front. They make decisions. It's my job to put on my cleats, put on my uniform, and swing the bat like I'm supposed to. I guess that's what I'm trying to focus on this year.

Do you have to alter your game at all, especially when they're saying I want you to be aggressive, I want you to steal more bases, I want you to do this.

Dan Robertson: I don't think so, because I think that's some of the things that I do well. I like making people hurry. I like running. I like stealing bags. Whatever gets the best opportunities for our team at the moment to get a run, steal a run, take a run, however you figure it. I think it plays into what I'm about a little bit. Maybe yeah, just a tad.

How do these situational drills that you guys do whether it be in BP or whatnot help you?

Dan Robertson: I think they help a lot. Baseball is a game of repetition. If you're doing it over and over and over, mentally, when you step into the box and you have to perform that situation that you're put it, you've done it a million times. You've done it in the cage. You've done it on the T. You've done it on flips. I think once you get in the game, no matter who's on the mound, you already know what job needs to be done and you just go about it that way.

Doug Dascenzo said you're a blue collar player. What does that mean?

Dan Robertson: I don't really know what it means. I know that it just reflects on what I was brought up on. I was brought up on watching guys like Pete Rose, Tony Gwynn. Watching guys like that, who played the game hard, Craig Biggio, one of my favorites, and Cal Ripken. That's how the game's played. I don't think there's any way else to play it but hard and put your nose in the dirt and go to work. At the end of the day, that's what it's all about.

Do you tinker with your approach at all at the plate? You have a pretty basic swing, a low maintenance swing. Do you tinker at all?

Dan Robertson: Sometimes when I get a little caught up in it. I hit a ball hard or I run into one and I hit it out, I'm like, "Oh! I'm growing up a little. Maybe I have a little more strength." As far as what I'm trying to do, not really. I try anything that's middle. My approach is to take it right back up the box into right center. I think mentally if I can stay that way, there comes a lot of success from that. I just try to stay there, and I don't really tinker with anything unless the guys are majority off-speed pitchers, where you have to look for something hanging or something like that. That's the only way I'd change my approach.

Do you feel like you struck out too much last year and the feeling is probably the same this season? I know it angered you a little bit.

Dan Robertson: Is that an on-camera question?

Yeah. I just feel when you strike out, you don't give your ball club a chance. Always growing up, it was put the ball in play, make a guy make three plays on you. He's got to catch the ball, make a throw and catch. If you strike out, all you did was swing and you're walking back to the dugout. The threat is over. Of course, I felt like I struck out too much. I felt like I struck out too much the first year. But, you know, that's the name of the game, and you can't get caught up in what happens. I just know that each year all I have to try to do is get better in the contact situations.

The hitting coach says you get jumpy at times. I don't even know what "get jumpy" means.

Dan Robertson: "Get jumpy" means like I told you earlier. If a guy is throwing 90-93 and he runs one in and I run into it and it leaves… Coach always says hit one home run, you're not a homerun hitter, but when you run into 93 and it goes a long way, you want to do that more. So, I get a little jumpy at times when I know that I can run into one and put it in the left field seats, and run into one and it goes more toward center. I just have to stay away from that and stick with line drives, even though homeruns are fun to hit. You have to understand what type of player you are.

They get the girls, right?

Dan Robertson: Yeah. Chicks dig the long ball, like Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux.

Right. So, talk a little about being a sparkplug. It always seems like you're in the middle of something and the guys behind you drive you in.

Dan Robertson: I think it's not as much me. It's just that I love to win. I think you don't win by being passive. You don't win by being down. You don't win with low energy. I think high energy makes people hurry. Running hard makes people hurry. All those things affect the game throughout the game, and if other people see, then other people are going to do it, too. Not everybody is wired the same. Not everybody can come to the ballpark and understand that "hey, I love this game, I love every second of it, even though it might drag on." Everybody needs a pick-me-up, whether that's a Monster drink or a five-hour energy drink. I just try to bring as much energy as I can, and if it rubs off on other people, then that's great. I try to do it to as many guys as I can.

Is that just natural leadership?

Dan Robertson: I never noticed it, but every since I was in high school or I was young, people always told me that. People always told me that this is some of the things that I bring to the table, these are some of the things that I do, don't stop being you. I think at my age now, I understand it's what I do. I'm not going to change. I might have a down day, but those guys like James Darnell might notice I'm having a rough day myself and then next thing you know, they're getting you going. Then, all of a sudden, it starts flowing all over again. When you rub off on someone like that or some of the other teammates, like Blake and all the guys I played with last year, you saw what kind of a magic run we made. If we can just continue doing those things, I think everything just takes care of itself.

You had success with runners in the scoring position. I think you hit about 320. Talk a little bit about that. Does the approach change even in those situations?

Dan Robertson: Not really. I think if anything you just know you have an opportunity to affect the game. I think when you get runners in scoring position, yeah, you want to be that hitter in the bottom of the ninth or the top of the ninth that ties it up. Or, you could be like Robert Lara and hit a walk off in the tenth, you know? I think if you have a chance to affect the game, that's what job you've got to do. If it calls for you to get a hit, you've still got to get a pitch you can get. I think the approach doesn't change, you just have to be a little more patient. Guys get all wound up. They want to drive the run in, but they forget that the pitcher has still got to throw you three strikes. He's got to throw you a pitch to hit, and if he didn't want to throw you a pitch to hit, then he's going to walk you. That's going to benefit the team even more, because you've got guys behind you at the level higher and higher you get, the guys behind you are wired to do things like that. I think you just have to be patient.

Day game struggles. It's kind of odd. You hit 217 during the day. Anything you can pinpoint?

Dan Robertson: It's funny about that. You see, baseball is a game of stats. I wish there was a stat of when I started wearing (sun) glasses during day games. I do remember I threw my glasses on during a day game last year, and I think I went 3-for-4 with two doubles or something like that. I got a text from my summer league coach that I played in the Northwest league. He was like, "hey man, you're hitting .200 during the day. What is going on?" I was like, "I am?" I didn't really know. He asked, "Have you ever hit with glasses?" I said, "No, they kind of bother me." He said, "Why don't you try it." So, last year, I stuck some glasses on. It might have went from .200 to .217, but hey, it went up. So, in the spring training now, I feel real comfortable hitting with glasses. I think it might be a little too bright. When you're squinting a little bit, it's kind of hard to see the ball. Maybe I was doing some of those things last year. Again, baseball is a game of statistics. Maybe I was just raking at night and I had to struggle sometime. Something had to bring me back down to earth. Maybe it was just a daytime. I don't see a problem, and I think once you get used to hitting during the day, everything takes care of itself. Personally, I don't have any preference. I grew up in Southern California. We didn't play at night very much. We played three o'clock games, and I didn't struggle too much my senior year of high school. I think the sun doesn't have anything to do with it really. I should be fine.

We all know you have a lot of great teammates and this does not take away from anyone you don't mention. If you could have one hitter hitting behind you in the lineup all season to offer protection, who would it be and why?

Dan Robertson: We have to be a little more decisive, because I played with Logan Forsythe in Eugene.

Anybody in the system that's a Minor Leaguer.

Dan Robertson: Of the guys above, of course, I'd want Adrian Gonzalez protecting me.

Anybody protecting me or just hitting behind me to drive me in, in a game-winning situation? I don't know. Everybody I play with I feel like hits behind me pretty well. I don't know. Can I get their stats? Am I on second or am I hitting?

You're hitting, second in the line up, somebody is batting third.

Dan Robertson: It would probably be James Darnell, Sawyer Carroll. It's a toss up. James, Saw, Jaff Decker, and Matt Clark. So, we'll do something where we'll put a name in a hat and I'll draw it out.

Who is the one pitcher you are glad you have as a teammate and why?

Dan Robertson: Probably Simon Castro. He reminds me of that leftie from Vancouver. He just throws cutters at 98. Probably Simon. That's definitely who it would be. Talk about this story on our subscriber-only message boards

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