Derrick Robinson, the newest Cincinnati Red, never had a locker quite like this in the minor leagues. He was asked how it compared.
“It doesn’t compare,” he said with a laugh.
Robinson, a 25-year-old outfielder from Gainesville, Fla., was called up to the big leagues for the first time Wednesday to take the place of injured left fielder Ryan Ludwick. Robinson’s large, comfy locker didn’t have his nameplate on it before the game, but his jersey hung off the side of the locker. Maybe that made the moment feel real for him, though he had to be dazed by his new surroundings.
Less than 24 hours before, Robinson was taking batting practice with the Triple-A Louisville Bats when manager Jim Riggleman called him over. Robinson thought he wanted to go over signs for the new season. Instead he got the news every minor leaguer desires.
“Words couldn’t explain,” said Robinson, who was a fourth-round pick by the Royals in 2006. “I was overwhelmed. The hard work paid off. It’s a dream come true. It’s a great group of guys to have this experience with. I’m a happy man right now.”
Robinson hit .300 in 22 games in spring training and was one of the last players demoted to the minors. A year ago, he hit .268 with the Triple-A Omaha Royals. He was a free agent last December when the Reds signed him to a minor-league contract and invited him to major-league spring training camp.
“Robinson had a really good spring,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He can help us in a lot of ways. He can pinch run, pinch hit, switch hit. He’s an outstanding outfielder. He can give (Shin-Soo) Choo a breather in center sometimes. He’s a true center fielder and a very good player, and we need some speed.”
Ludwick update: Ludwick had surgery Wednesday to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He suffered the injury Monday sliding into third in the season opener.
Baker said Ludwick could be out 13 to 14 weeks, but no one knows for sure.
“This is a very resilient team,” Baker said. “We just have to find a way. It’s a big blow, especially in the middle of our lineup, much like last year with Joey (Votto). I hope we have the same success with whoever takes Ryan’s place. We missed Joey for 50 games last year, and everyone wrote us off. But this team has a way of coming together.”
Lineup changes: With Ludwick out of the lineup, Chris Heisey started in left field and hit second in the order. Brandon Phillips batted second on Opening Day and moved to the cleanup spot Wednesday.
Baker said Phillips isn’t the prototypical cleanup hitter, but he ruled out Todd Frazier because he’s too young and he wanted to break up the strikeout hitters. Heisey, Frazier and Jay Bruce all struck out about once every four at-bats last season.
“I promised (Phillips) I was going to leave him in one spot,” Baker said. “I guess this is the spot I’m going to leave him in for a while. He’s a guy that can hit all over the order. He’s driven in 100 runs, and he’s scored 100 runs wherever he’s been in the lineup.”
Today’s game: The three-game series against the Angels concludes with a 12:35 p.m. game today. Bronson Arroyo (12-10, 3.74 ERA last season) makes his first start of the season against Joe Blanton (10-13, 4.71).
Blanton signed with the Angels in December after splitting last season between the Phillies and Dodgers.