Technically, Chris Robinson is still a rookie. At 29, he’s not a kid anymore.
Robinson, a Tucson Padres catcher, spent nine years in the minor leagues, and zero in the majors.
Make that zero years and three days, actually.
On Aug. 14 when Robinson answered his cell phone, Kai Murphy was on the other line.
As in, Tucson manager Pat Murphy’s 12-year-old son.
The call was part prank, part life-changing.
“They set up a little skit there, it was funny,” Robinson said before the Padres 9-6 victory over the Tacoma Rainiers at Kino Stadium on Thursday night.
“Kai told me I got called up,” he added, laughing. “Murph said he wanted me to remember it, but I think he could’ve just sent me an e-mail to remember it.”
Robinson officially got the call-up to San Diego because Padres catcher Nick Hundley, a UA alum, was placed on the paternity leave list, which allows a player to miss a maximum of three games and a minimum of one to attend the birth of his child.
So, two days later, Robinson was sent back to Tucson without even playing in a San Diego game.
But, he couldn’t be mad — he has two kids of his own, each 1½ years old.
Plus, the call-up was a long time coming for Robinson, no matter how brief it was, because there aren’t too many openings for 29-year-old rookie catchers in the major leagues nowadays.
“Any year you get older, it makes it even more difficult,” said Robinson, who is batting .308 in 32 games with the Padres. “But, you try to persevere through that kind of stuff and everything else you have to deal with and just play ball. That’s what I’ve been doing this year. It’s funny, when you expect it, it doesn’t seem to happen, and when you least expect it, it does. So, it’s a funny game.”
The Star spoke with Robinson before Thursday’s game, in which he went 1 for 4 in the Padres victory.
On the call-up:
It was great, you know, you make it to the big leagues. It was a dream come true and a pretty exciting time for me and my family and everyone who’s followed my career over the last nine years or so.
On the difficulty in not giving up:
For sure, it’s difficult, but it’s part of the game. You kind of look to be in the right spot at the right time. There’s been times in my career where I thought about packing it up and taking it home and wondering what I was doing, and why I was doing it. But, I’m definitely not the only one to stick with it, but I think it’s one of the things I’m proudest of, that I battled it out, stayed with it, and I got rewarded.
On if the taste of the majors gave him a boost of confidence:
(Laughs) Yes and no. I think it’s an experience; you enjoy it, but you understand that you gotta come back here and do what you gotta do, and perform down here so hopefully you can get another taste.
On what it was like walking into the locker room
at Petco Park for the first time:
I knew some guys in the locker room that made the transition easier, but I wasn’t in spring training with these guys so I didn’t know everybody. It’s always an adjustment when you walk into a new locker room, especially when you’re the low guy. So I just tried to keep my mouth shut and stay in the background, and if I was needed for something, I was needed. It was a great experience. It was everything I kind of thought it would be.