This blog entry was written by Daily News intern Thuc Nhi Nguyen. Follow her on Twitter.
Making a major league team is always the dream, but Clint Robinson also knows the realities of life. The 29-year-old has a wife and mortgage hanging over his head. The first baseman who was called up from Triple-A Albuquerque two days ago admits that when he was in spring training with the Dodgers, he wasn’t eyeing a spot on the team’s big-league roster.
He was just looking for work.
“In the minor leagues, it can end like that,” Robinson said, snapping his fingers. “You have to go where you have the best chance to succeed and keep this as your job.”
For Robinson, that place was Albuquerque, N.M., where the elevation and thin air made it a hitter’s dream. In 77 games with the Isotopes, he hit .309 with 14 home runs and 56 RBIs. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said the main reason why Robinson was called up was for his performance in the batter’s box.
The year-to-year search for work in the minor leagues was stressful and frustrating for Robinson. Last year, he batted .213 for the Buffalo Bisons, the Toronto Blue Jays’ Triple-A affiliate.
“I didn’t deserve to be in the big leagues,” he said.
That makes being called up to the majors “a bonus,” he said.
Two years ago, Robinson was called up to Kansas City on the heels of a lackluster Triple-A performance — .314 for the season but .231 in his previous eight games. He believes he struggled in his big-league debut (0-for-4, two strikeouts) because his minor-league performance carried over to to the Royals.
On his second round in the majors, he’s more confident than ever at the plate after success in Albuquerque.
“I’m chomping at the bit to get an at-bat,” Robinson said. “I feel very confident in where I’m at as a hitter right now. … I feel as complete a hitter as I ever have right now.”
Mattingly doesn’t see Robinson dethroning Adrian Gonzalez at first base, but has plans for Robinson to continue his solid minor-league hitting in the majors as a pinch-hitter.
“Clint’s really a guy we look at as a bat off the bench,” Mattingly said. “Maybe we’ll be able to give a day here or there to Adrian, but primarily he’s a guy who is going to pinch hit off the bench.”