Call-up to ma­jors does not come

Vet­er­ans Robin­son, Romine spend all of 2019 sea­son in mi­nor leagues

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Tom Housenick

Shane Robin­son of­ten walked slowly through the IronPigs’ club­house this sea­son a few hours be­fore game time with a cof­fee in his hand and wis­dom he was will­ing to share.

It was a rit­ual, much like the 34-year-old out­fielder’s ac­cu­mu­lat­ing ma­jor-league ser­vice time every year since 2011.

The 2019 sea­son was dif­fer­ent, how­ever, as Robin­son never got the chance to show his value as an ex­tra out­fielder and pinch hit­ter.

Even as the Phillies’ bench pro­duced al­most noth­ing for large chunks of this sea­son, Robin­son wan­dered the same Triple-A club­house.

“It would have been nice to have been up there [in Philadelph­ia], have mul­ti­ple days off, come in pinch-hit sit­u­a­tions and spot starts,” said Robin­son, who has 24 career ma­jor-league pinch hits. “It prob­a­bly would have been bet­ter on the body, but it didn’t hap­pen.”

In spite of his slow walks around the club­house, Robin­son this year was al­ways the IronPigs’ fastest run­ner and best de­fen­sive out­fielder not named Ro­man Quinn.

In 2019, the Florida na­tive bat­ted .288 with more walks (39) than strike­outs (34), some pop (seven homers), baserun­ning skills (eight stolen bases) and twice as many out­field as­sists (six) as er­rors.

“It’s dis­ap­point­ing when you feel like you’ve done enough to get a look and you don’t get feed­back from any­one on why de­ci­sions are made,” Robin­son said. “I un­der­stand the business side of it. I un­der­stand how the game has changed the last few years.”

Robin­son, the Cardinals’ fifth-round pick in 2006 with play­off and World Se­ries ex­pe­ri­ence, is not talk­ing about an­a­lyt­ics.

It’s more about birth cer­tifi­cates.

The Phillies started this sea­son with a bench of rel­a­tive young­sters: Aaron Altherr, Nick Wil­liams, Scott Kingery and An­drew Knapp. That four­some en­tered 2019 with a com­bined 26 career pinch hits — or two more than Robin­son. Or one more than Sean Ro­driguez and five fewer than Phil Gos­selin.

Gos­selin, 30, spent nearly two months with the Phillies be­fore being sent down for the rest of the IronPigs sea­son.

Ro­driguez, a for­mer team­mate of Phils man­ager Gabe Kapler, has been up since April 24 despite a 4-for-23 show­ing as a pinch hit­ter (two of those hits came in his last three chances).

Mean­while, Robin­son and 33-yearold An­drew Romine, who spent parts of the pre­vi­ous nine sea­sons in the ma­jors and once played every po­si­tion in a ma­jor-league game, never got a day of ser­vice time this sea­son.

It is their mis­for­tune of being ma­jor­league new­bies a decade or so ago, when the game was in a dif­fer­ent place.

“Funny when I first came up — and I talk with the guys about it all the time — that’s all that was around: vet­eran guys,” re­called Robin­son who made his ma­jor­league de­but on May 7, 2009.

“As young guys, you needed to keep your mouth shut, go about your business and hope to stick. I al­ways told my­self that if I could get to five years [of ma­jor-league ser­vice time], I’d be set, pro­tected. All my con­tracts would be guar­an­teed out of camp.

“I fi­nally get to five years and base­ball com­pletely changed on me. It’s crazy. You think you’d want a vet­eran guy who knows ex­actly what he’s do­ing and what you’re go­ing to get out of him when he steps on the field.

“Do I agree with it? No. Do I un­der­stand it? Yes.”

The Phillies have 33 play­ers on their 40-man Septem­ber ros­ter. Maikel Franco will be added this week. Spots will be left for Quinn, Juan Ni­ca­sio and (maybe) Edubray Ramos — all of whom are nurs­ing in­juries.

Pitch­ers Enyel De Los San­tos and J.D. Ham­mer, both of whom strug­gled af­ter their most-re­cent de­mo­tions to Triple A, don’t ap­pear to be get­ting pro­mo­tions.

Nei­ther are Robin­son and Romine, who also had to ad­just this year to ex­tended play­ing time in Triple A.

“It’s dif­fer­ent play­ing every sin­gle day as a guy who has al­ways been up as a util­ity guy in the big leagues,” Romine said. “For the last seven, eight years, I’ve gone from get­ting par­tial play­ing time to play­ing a lot, then sit­ting on bus rides for a long time.

“It takes a toll on your body when you’re do­ing it for six months.”

Romine, like Robin­son, had a solid Triple-A sea­son.

The Cal­i­for­nia na­tive posted a stats line of .289/.342/.408 with 21 stolen bases, 26 ex­tra-base hits and 53 RBIs in 106 games with the IronPigs.

But, like Robin­son, he’ll be a vet­eran Septem­ber spectator.

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