Hoping for roster spot, Robinson knows the reality
Outfielder 'loves everything about' Cardinals' organization, where he's spent his career
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- This is the only organization Shane Robinson has ever known. And if he has his choice, it will stay that way. Robinson has stuck with the Cardinals as a reserve outfielder in each of the last two years, but he may be facing a roster crunch due to enhanced depth.
The Cardinals added Peter Bourjos over the winter, which pushed Jon Jay out of the starting lineup and into a reserve role. There may still be room for Robinson as a fifth outfielder, but if everybody stays healthy, playing time may become even more scarce for the 29-year-old to find.
And while that may seem pretty cut-and-dried, it's not really a productive thing for Robinson to think about. The former fifth-round Draft selection said before Thursday's rainout against the Twins that he wants more than anything to stick with the Cardinals, but he also knows that might not happen.
"It doesn't really bother me too much. I don't really look at it in that light," he said. "I know I can play the game at the big league level. I know I'm not just playing for the Cardinals; I know there are other teams looking. But I obviously want to be here. This is a place I love. I love everything about this organization. I don't really focus on those things. I just try to enjoy my time here and play hard."
Robinson, a career .278 hitter in the Minor Leagues, has established himself as a capable defensive reserve. He even got to play in the playoffs and World Series last season, and he's conquered enough adversity to get to this point that he doesn't really worry about a roster crunch.
Robinson's 2010 campaign was cut short by a collarbone injury, and his 2011 season was abbreviated by an outfield collision that resulted in a fractured cheekbone and a fractured finger. Robinson said that spate of injuries temporarily shook his confidence, but ultimately made him a stronger person.
"I've had some stuff happen in my career that has humbled me a lot and helped me not to get caught up in that mindset," he said. "I think if this stuff would've happened to me three or four years ago, it would've bothered me a lot more than it does now. A lot of things happened to me that could've ended my career. I'm very fortunate to be here and very positive about things. I try not to let negative things affect me. I'm very fortunate to be a part of this organization, and I know how special it is here."
Robinson said that he grew up by necessity as a result of those injuries, and in the last two seasons, he's managed to establish himself in the Majors. Robinson has played in 201 games for the Cardinals over the last two years, and he's batted .252 with 42 runs scored in 310 at-bats.
But it's bigger than the numbers. Robinson feels like he belongs in the Major Leagues, and that has allowed him to get comfortable. Robinson said Thursday that he finally feels like he can be focused and have fun at the same time, and that he has a great support system in St. Louis.
Ultimately, though, he understands that it's a numbers game. Robinson would love to break camp with the Cardinals, but if it doesn't work that way, he understands that it's really not personal.
"All the coaches and management, they know what I have to offer," said Robinson of making the Opening Day roster. "If it's not in the cards, then it won't be. And if it is, I'll be there."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.