The Nationals signed Adam Lind in the middle of February to compete for the bench spot that was occupied by Clint Robinson last season. Grappling for a baseball job is nothing new to Robinson.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Spring training has a familiar look for Clint Robinson despite the change in location.
He spent the offseason at home in Arkansas doing his usual low-key things. Ready to go, he drove to West Palm Beach, Florida on Feb. 12, two days before pitchers and catchers were supposed to report, only to be told he could not access the facility until the next day. Once allowed in, he situated his locker, said hello as one of a handful of position players already in town and settled in for a fight for his job.
Robinson is 32 years old now. His spot as the Washington Nationals’ backup first baseman/left fielder/left-handed pinch-hitter is again not guaranteed. In fact, the Nationals’ late offseason move to sign Adam Lind, who does all of those things and has a more established major-league career, has provided Robinson direct competition to keep his up-and-down baseball career going.
“There’s always competition in this game,” Robinson said. “Especially on the bench. … It’s just something you have to deal with. What decisions they make don’t really affect what I do. As long as there is a uniform in my locker, I’m going to go out and do the same thing I always do, which is do the best I can and let the other stuff sort itself out. I can’t really worry about who signs who and all that stuff.”
Lind and Robinson appear to be duplicates. Both left-handed, both too big to play the outfield consistently, both with power. The gap comes when looking at the long run Lind has had versus Robinson’s hanging-on career in baseball. Lind has hit 20 or more home runs six times, including last season, when he received just 401 at-bats with Seattle. Robinson struggled in 2016 during a season he was primarily dispatched to face the opposition’s closer or elite setup pitcher. He hit just .235 a season — his first full one in the majors — after hitting .272 in a similar role.
Nationals manager Dusty Baker has an affinity for Robinson. During spring training, he has claimed that Robinson looks “good, real good.” He has mentioned he would like to keep both Lind and Robinson on the roster, though that seems unlikely. Baker has also stated that jobs are to be won. That’s what spring training is for.
“We have some good competitions for jobs,” Baker said. “If you’re going to win, you have to have depth in a number of areas. I just got to get a good look once some of the games start.”
Lind was available to be signed in the middle of February because he is a 32 year old with a declining batting average. Last season, his average sunk to .239, its lowest single-season mark since 2010. Baker talked with Lind. The new signee explained that he became pull happy in Seattle. Baker would like him to try to hit through the middle more.
Lind enjoyed his single season with the Mariners. The city’s food and quirkiness both worked for him after eight years in Toronto and spending 2015 in Milwaukee. He’s a career .271 hitter who hit 35 home runs in 2009 for the Blue Jays.
“It’s a J-O-B,” Lind said of joining the Nationals. “I mean, really. Didn’t have too much to choose from, so it was nice [general manager] Mike [Rizzo] offered me the opportunity to help this team.”
Whoever wins the spot may prove vital. Both Robinson and Lind could be considered help in left field, where soon-to-be 38-year-old Jayson Werth operates. First baseman Ryan Zimmerman struggled last season and has dealt with foot injuries in recent years. Robinson and Lind also offer left-handed options at both those spots. Baker is adamant that Werth and Zimmerman are the starters in those positions. That’s not a current debate. It’s a question of who will back them up or fill-in, if need be.
- World Baseball Classic failing to draw interest of American fans
- Angels looking for an effective bullpen, even without the 100-mph relievers
- Joe Nathan joins the Nationals, where everyone is wondering if Joe can be Joe
- Shawn Kelley willing to do whatever is asked, including close
- Dusty Baker feels anything but ‘lame’
- First spring training workouts underway for pitchers, catchers
- 5 things to watch when Nationals start spring training
- Astros build team, and new complex, for the future
- Healthy Zack Greinke aims for better Year 2 in Arizona
- Day faces big challenge to stay at No. 1
- Thin MLB free-agent class could push prices up, spell trouble for Blue Jays
- Nationals’ bench players stepping up when called upon by Dusty Baker
You might also like
- Donald Trump pushes back against reports of chaotic White House, touts accomplishments
- Rex Tillerson will host Trump’s anti-Islamic State alliance summit
- Conservatives want health bill changes, House leaders resist
- Donald Trump speech to Congress demands crackdown on illegals, rebuilding of military
- Romanian protesters fight corruption
- Ben Sasse, Senate Republican, asks Justice Department to clarify its stance on Julian Assange
- ‘Beauty and the Beast’ aims to enchant a new generation
- Stewart and Assayas find a groove in the shadow of celebrity
- Noel J. Francisco, Trump’s solicitor general pick, fought Obama on recess appointments
- #ADayWithoutAWoman showed those who avoided work were the losers
- Democrats push to lower voting age to 17 with boost from billionaire George Soros
- Trump administration inviting more than 60 countries for strategy session on countering the Islamic State
- Powerful South Carolina political consultant implicated in indictments of a veteran state senator
- Will Donald Trump get a second Supreme Court nomination?
- "Hazing" rituals await Supreme Court's "junior justice" Neil Gorsuch
- The hunt is on for Planet Nine. Here's how to join it
- Trump approves controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline
- Trump praises 'Fox & Friends,' renews old feuds in early morning tweets
- Rex Tillerson finally answers question from NBC News' Andrea Mitchell
- First Read's Morning Clips: The Latest in the Russia Investigation
- Spicer: 'I've let the president down'
- Russian President Vladimir Putin met with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday
- OMB Diriector Mick Mulvaney: Washington's 'a lot more broken' than Trump thought
- Trump attacks conservatives over failure of health care bill
- A very consequential week didn't go well for President Trump
- Health Care Showdown: Republicans look to go big or go home
- No deal on health care bill after conservatives meet with Trump
- CA gov on those supporting health bill: 'Their name is going to be mud'
- Give it to me straight, doc: Is Obamacare dying?
- First Read's Morning Clips: Waiting for CBO
- 14 People Share What's It's Really Like to Have An Ex Who Is Now Their In-Law
- The Internet Is Freaking Out About The Way This Chef Cuts Pizza
- Malala Yousafzai becomes honorary Canadian
- Text of Malala Yousafzai's speech Wednesday to a joint session of Parliament
- Controversy over video comparing abortion to Holocaust shown in Catholic high school
- Foul play not suspected in deaths of four people found in burning N.B. house
- Plans to bring high-speed internet to remote First Nations with 3,600 km cable
- Deadly wrong-way collision kills four in Quebec
- Gov. Gen. David Johnston reflects on Vimy and horrors of war
- Canadian accused in Yahoo hack denied bail, judge criticizes parents
- Attention, Gardiner commuters: You've got one more week to use the York-Bay-Yonge off-ramp
- Alleged hitman in brazen Toronto shooting sent message about 'contract killing,' Crown says
- After 6 suspected overdoses, Toronto councillors want amnesty for users who test drugs
- How do you fix child care in Toronto? Get all 3 governments to spend billions on it, report says
- Review of York Region District School Board finds 'culture of fear,' 'systemic discrimination'
- Peel school board steps up meeting security 'to ensure people are safe'
- 'The feather and the Bible were together': A tragedy is helping to mend a city's racial divide
- 5 things we learned about the changing nature of news from The National in Conversation
- 'We hear you': Sudbury city official says cyclists, pedestrians will have a voice at city hall
- Any cuts made to Saskatoon's budget may be permanent, city manager warns
- Council approves demolition of low-rental housing for college residence
- 'It's just not a strong signal': Residents in rural P.E.I. asked to test their internet speed