Results tagged ‘ chris robinson ’
Des Moines–An overcast day at Principal Park today. I was commenting to Andrea Breen, Iowa’s manager of media relations that the clouds covering Iowa will most likely meet me in Chicago when I return tomorrow.
It was business as usual for these farmhands, most of them strolling into the clubhouse around 10:00. Poker chips lay strewn across a table in case an impromptu game might just break out during a rain delay. Clubhouse manager Cleo Welch was busy cooking breakfast–big fluffy pancakes, some eggs.
Five guys were taking early cage work with hitting coach Desi Wilson. Utilityman Matt Matulia, catcher Chris Robinson, and infielders Darwin Barney and Bobby Scales were all taking their hacks.
Andrea told me that when she asked the players to fill out a questionnaire at the during the season, the player teammates voted as the “most intense” was Scales. In the cage, that was evident.
Always quick with a smile and a guy who loves to talk about college football–especially his alma mater the University of Michigan–you’d never think Scales was that intense given his usually cheery disposition when we last saw him in Chicago. But there he was, talking and muttering to himself, motivating himself, trying to talk himself into squaring up the ball better and not swing a bad pitches. He takes his job very seriously, and after getting his first taste of the big leagues this year, he desperately wants to return.
Outside, the pitchers started throwing long toss; Jeff Samardzija looked relaxed, as did lefty James Russell. Playing a different kind of long toss was Micah Hoffpauir and Matt Craig. They were throwing the pigskin around a little bit.
As a guy who was with the big-league club most of the season, Hoffpauir is in the awkward position of being a strong consideration for a call-up but he has put up mediocre numbers at Iowa.
“I don’t have any control over what happens in Chicago,” Hoffpauir said. “My numbers aren’t what they should be, but I’ve been working things out, trying to right the ship here.”
He has tried to prevent the impending Sept. 1 date from hovering in his mind, despite his eagerness to return to Chicago. Like Scales, when you get that taste, you want more. There’s something special when the skipper calls you in on that day.
“For younger guys, they probably aren’t even thinking about [Sept.1]; they’re just happy to be in Triple A,” Hoffpauir said. “But for some older guys, they might be a little more disappointed. But I remember when me and Koyie Hill went up at the same time. Pat [Listach] called us in. We both had been up once already, so he told us together. But Casey McGehee hadn’t been up yet. So when it was his turn, they called him in by himself to make it a little more special.”
It was Chris Robinson’s last game, too, chipping in a single for good measure. Afterward, he shook hands with every one of his teammates and coaches and set off to the Great White North and Team Canada. To a man, Iowa personnel and the team all said Robinson was one of their favorite players this year.
The I-Cubs took down the Redhawks again, 2-0, behind some fine pitching from Mitch Atkins, John Gaub and Blake Parker.
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Des Moines–I arrived at Principal Park startled to see a huge board in the concourse with the current standings of the North Division of the Pacific Coast League. Even at Triple A, the Cubs were chasing the Cardinals.
The Iowa Cubs entered tonight trailing the Memphis Redbirds by a game and a half. I’m here doing a story for Vine Line following our Triple-A club. I wanted to see what life was like for Triple-A players leading up to the Sept. 1 call up day.
Not only that, I wanted to see what that proverbial minor-league bus ride was like. Thanks to Cubs farm director Oneri Fleita and Iowa Cubs media relations manager Andrea Breen, I was able to somehow weasel my way on to the bus for their Aug. 30 road trip to Omaha.
But before that, I am taking in two games at Principal Park, watching the I-Cubs take on the Oklahoma City Redhawks, the Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers.
Before the game, I wandered around batting practice saying hi to a bunch of players and coaches. There were a lot of familiar faces, as many of them, like Andres Blanco, Micah Hoffpauir, Bobby Scales, Justin Berg, Jeff Samardzija, Mitch Atkins and Jeff Stevens, have seen big-league action this year. It was almost as if I were watching the Chicago club.
Blanco came over to me and laughed, “Hey, did they send you down, too?”
Hitting coach Desi Wilson was watching behind the cage while catcher Chris Robinson lined a shot to third where Andres Blanco, who has been battling a calf injury, snagged the ball that would have certainly speared teammate Nate Spears.
“There’s baseball going on right now, you know!” yelled Hoffpauir.
Hoffpauir, who had made the big-league club out of spring training seemed to be in OK spirits, but there was a tinge of melancholy.
“How you doin’ Hoffy?”
“I’m doing fine. Things in Chicago good for you?”
“It’s been a little rough, as you might have heard.”
“Yeah, well, it’s still where you want to be, right?”
And that was when it hit me that even though the big-league team was struggling, as a player, the big-leagues was where he would rather be.
Don’t get me wrong; he loves Des Moines, saying “it’s a great city. Quiet. Clean. A lot like where I live now.” But he’d trade it for a ticket back to Chicago in an instant.
The I-Cubs ended up winning 7-4. Robinson’s last game is tomorrow, as he will be going to play with Team Canada. He was voted the team’s MVP.