A few injuries allowed him to begin the year in Tucson and since then he has been statistically the Padres’ best outfielder in the higher levels this year.
Robertson, 26, is hitting .313/.384/.402 is second on the team in hits and third in total bases and has seen time at all three outfield positions. His best attribute, and throughout his career, has been his consistency, the ability to give quality at-bats while playing plus defense at all three outfield positions.
His versatility and relatively simple, repeatable swing make him a seemingly ideal candidate for a fourth outfielder spot on the big club and with trade rumors swirling around Padres’ outfielder Chris Denofria San Diego fans may see Robertson sooner rather than later.
Dan was good enough to talk to us by phone after Tucson’s recent series in Reno.
Coming into this year it was kind of up in the air if you would start the year in San Antonio or Tucson. I know you try to focus on only what you can control but how difficult is it to do that?
Dan Robertson: In the spring I was working with the AAA group the whole time but at the same time you were always aware of who was coming down and how that could impact you.
However you also have to realize, and I do know this is a cliche, that you can only control what you can control. Its not that hard when you think about it because although baseball is a team game as a hitter you are competing against the pitcher. If you are not beating him, then you aren’t going to make that team.
I’m always asking you, and I think I have done this in about every interview I’ve done with you since you have been in the organization, you are putting up about the same numbers you have at every level - regardless of the competition.
You are hitting around .300, getting on-base at a pretty good clip, hitting the ball into the gaps and stealing some bags. How come you are so consistent despite the competition getting that much better.
Dan Robertson: I think I’ve always understood what type of player that I am. The big difference for me this year in Tucson is that I know that when I’m healthy I’m going to be in the lineup which really gives you a comfort level of just worrying about what you are gong to do on the field that night.
When you have that then it becomes more about trying to find ways to help your team win that night and many times when you do that your best performances are going to come out.
Your numbers throughout your career have always been best when runners are in scoring position. When runners are on does that change how pitchers approach you?
Dan Robertson: It’s more of a mentality. When I played football as a receiver anytime I got the ball I knew I had a chance to impact the score and the game. In baseball you don’t get that many chances to impact the game so you know when runners are in scoring position you have to be locked in because you don’t know how many chances there are going to be in the game.
Not only is AAA one step away from the majors but its different than other levels just because there are so many older guys with so much experience. What have you noticed about it?
Dan Robertson: When you are playing alongside guys like Nick Hundley, who have played in the big leagues for quite a while, it works better in your favor. For me the only real taste that I got of the major leagues was in spring training, but as we know that is not really the same thing.
With the big league guys you really just pick their minds and they let you know that the next level is not that different. It’s still the same game the pitcher is trying to get you out and you are tying to beat him.
In the off-season we talked about your workout which was pretty intense. You are living and playing in one of the hottest places in the United States. What type of training have you been able to do before games without wearing yourself out?
Dan Robertson: In the season its all about maintenance. I still do my squats and lunges but with not quite the same intensity in the off-season. The off-season is when you really try to make gains because you have much more time to recover.
Our last interview with you was pretty popular especially the part about the right way to conduct yourself in the game. A lot of our readers whom actually coach their kids in Little League especially the comment you have “earned the right to compete at this level now act like it.”
I know you work a lot with kids, especially in the off-season. What is the main thing you try to get across to kids when you are coaching them?
Dan Robertson: Some kids are going to get the fundamentals quicker than others but the biggest thing you can teach people is about the right way to play the game. How to play good defense, run the bases and be a good teammate.
Guys like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are great and fun to watch. But they are also once in a generational players. Nearly everyone is not going to be like that but if you know how to play the game you can go far and separate yourself from the rest.
I take it more work will go on the web site in the off-season?
Dan Robertson: Since we last spoke I’ve gone over to a new website run by my former college teammate Mitch Canham [and former Padres’ farmhand], BASE by Pros which is the type of website that I wanted to create in the off-season.
I really like the people that are involved in it and hope everyone checks it out.
Now you are in AAA are you enjoying flying a little more than the long bus rides?
Dan Robertson: Some days are better than others. The buses weren’t that bad because when I got on I usually could go to sleep.
WIth flying since they are commercial you have to get up much earlier and the seat probably recline about two inches, so sleeping isn’t that great - but you are still playing baseball so that is what is important.