An Interview With Trayvon Robinson

I’ll just let you read the interview transcript for now, but I’ll give my thoughts on it afterwards.

What I’m saying is in bold, and the interview jumps around a lot, but that’s mainly because I suck.

How does the talent in the Arizona Fall League compare to what you saw at the AA level?

It’s about AA because when I saw the rosters I saw a lot of AA or AAA guys, or guys that got called up, so I would compare it to about AA.

Is the environment at the AFL relaxed and casual between players or have you noticed a lot of competition between prospects?

It’s both casual and competitive. It’s not laid back or anything, but it’s like a big showcase like in high school or something.

I noticed that you just finished a game in which there were about 40 runs scored, do you believe that’s a reflection of the conditions up there?

No, I just think there’s a lot of good hitters in the game today. Just good players, basically.

I saw you play back in 2007 or so, and while you had tools to succeed, the performance never seemed to pan out as well as it it in 2009. Was there anything in particular that sparked the change in results?

I just made some adjustments. This year I just wanted to put out the full potential of what I can do. You know, I can run and hit, and I got a little bit of power, and this year I just wanted to put it all together.

I picked up a bigger bat and I really worked on my fear of getting caught baserunning. I think this year I didn’t have that fear.

On that note, I know there’s a lot of people that focus on, or are worried about, your stealing percentage, but in the minor leagues it seems like it’s more of a learning process than anything. Was it that way for you this past year, or is it just something you need to work on going forward?

I had the green light and every time I got caught I learned something new. I got caught 20 times this year and I learned something new every time. They gave me the green light to see if I could get better jumps, and especially stuff like running off of slide steps. Comparing the year before and this year, it was just like “don’t hold nothing back”.

Was it about running as much as possible to get used to it?

It was a learning process, but at the same time, I think I did well under the circumstances.

Addressing the change to the bigger bat, a concern is that the strikeouts will carryover to the advanced pitching in AA. Is that something we should be concerned about as fans, or are you confident that it won’t be an issue?

I would not put it on the big bat. I’ve been striking out for a while, and i’ve been striking out anyway, but when I got to AA, my strikeout to walk ratio actually got a little better. To me, I struck out 147 times, but it really didn’t register in my head until the end of the season. To me, a strikeout is like a line out, a pop out, a rollover, it doesn’t really matter to me.

Right, one out is one out regardless of how it comes.

Yeah. I mean, i’m not looking at no 10 for 10 in strikeouts, like strikeout-strikeout-strikeout, but one thing I tried to learn this year is to turn the page.

Is that a change in mentality or approach?

Oh yeah, even with a home run, you have to come up with another at-bat. There’s time I had 3 strikeouts and the winning run is on second base, so I gotta focus on that at-bat. I can’t care about the 3 strikeouts before and what it means. The more negative thoughts you have, the more it’s gonna come up negative.

Does that change reflect on your consistency? In another interview, you said that “consistency moves you up through the minor league levels”, so how have you tried to become more consistent?

It’s daily routines and approach, that’s what I think personally. I didn’t think so much about consistency in at-bats, but like game plan, what type of player you want to be, and not letting results change who you are.

Both on and off the field?

Yeah.

Later in the season, the Dodgers rewarded your performance by moving you up to AA. A lot of people view that league as a true test of a prospect because a lot of guys jump from that league to the majors.

That league is pretty good man (laughing).

Right, and you seemed relatively unfazed by any perceived gap in talent, but did you notice any significant differences between high-A and AA?

As far as talent, nah, not really I don’t think. There’s a lot of big names but not necessarily more talent. I would think the biggest difference is that the guys are smarter.

So the difference is more in the approach than being more talented players? Is it because they’re older?

Yeah, they’re older, and I thought about that too when I got to the locker room and a lot of guys were like 28 or 29. They know because they’ve been around the game a while.

On a random note, some people, including me, wanted to know if you’re faster than Devaris (Dee) Gordon.

(Laughs) Man, that’s one of my best friends, I don’t know. If you look at me and him, i’m twice his size (laughing). I don’t know, i’m a real big supporter of Dee, and I like the way he plays and works hard. I’m like his fan, so i’m gonna choose him.

So you guys aren’t gonna set up a race anytime soon in Spring Training or something?

You know what, maybe, but it’s gonna be private. It’s gonna be closed (laughing).

After your breakout year, you’re having a lot more attention being paid to you. Do you read what people say about you in print or on the internet?

I got my agent who tells me stuff, but I try not to pay attention because a lot of that stuff is negative. To be honest, I haven’t even looked at a computer in a while. They all talking about my temper and some stuff I can’t be worried about.

Even in 2008, I had a pretty good year as a 20-year-old in high-A, had no clue in my second year switch hitting, but I try not to think about stuff like that. Even my agent just said Baseball America said nothing good about me, so I can’t focus on that. I just gotta keep going.

You mentioned difficulty with switch hitting, so I was wondering whether that was something that came naturally or if it’s still a work in progress.

Not natural (laughs). I wasn’t forced to do it or nothing, and they gave me a choice to stop. I look back on it and I can probably say that I probably wanted to stop switch hitting at least 10 times.

Are you glad you stuck with it?

Yeah, because I got more power left-handed than right-handed (laughs).

People now have increased expectations of you, and some even want you to replace Manny Ramirez in 2011, does that kind of pressure affect you at all?

I don’t know. I mean, Manny Ramirez is a good player, and nobody should be saying that. I hope Dodgers fans wouldn’t want me to replace Manny Ramirez, but just be glad to have another Robinson in a Dodgers uniform (laughs).

I actually played with [Manny] when he came down to rehab, so that was fun, but to replace him is not something i’m thinking about (laughing). I’m just trying to get up there and play, you know? I’m just trying to get up there and be on a parade. I’m from [Los Angeles] so I want a parade.

People say a lot of things, but I just keep going. It seems like it’s more and more pressure each year. More and more challenges each year, but I try to stay the same.

I was pretty surprised that people were saying negative things about your makeup or whatever, because among Dodgers fans, there’s a pretty popular video circulating around of you beating up a gorilla mascot…

That was all fun man, thanks to Lake Elsinore Storm for letting that happen.

How did that come about? Because we all got a good laugh out of it.

The guys come into the dugout before the game and tell us what’s going on and gave us stuff to hit back with. So he comes into the dugout and everybody is whacking him, getting some pretty good hits on him, so he tries to leave the dugout. That’s when I ran out of the dugout, just ran out, and tripped him (laughing). After I tripped him running out of the dugout, they’ve been calling me the “Gorilla Killa” ever since.

As far as your teammates go, you obviously know a lot about them, but which pitcher in the organization would you least like to face?

Actually, he’s right next to me right now, Kenley Jansen, he just got turned into a pitcher, I would not like to face him (laughs).

Okay, I think that’s about it. Thanks for your time, Trayvon.

Alright. Hey, make sure you write some nice things about me (laughs). I’m not a mean guy (laughing). Okay, okay, bye.

Admittedly, I’m not yet a good interviewer, but it was a good experience. I also learned that transcribing an interview is a huge pain in the ass.

As far as Trayvon Robinson goes, he was great. Not only did he not seem to mind that he had to give an interview to some dumb site, he seemed genuinely happy to talk about stuff with me. He came off as a rather happy-go-lucky type of guy that was focused on reaching the major leagues.

About Chad Moriyama

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