Robnett has 30-homer potential.
Richie Robnett, a 2004 first round draft choice, is one of the A’s most promising five-tool talents. He spent his first full professional season in A-Stockton last year, and he is bringing his powerful bat and arm back to the club again this year. Staff writer Paul Rathert caught up with Robnett at the Ports Pre-Season Banquet at the Waterloo in Stockton. THIS IS A FREE PREVIEW OF PREMIUM CONTENT.
In 2005, Richie Robnett hit 20 homeruns in only 115 games. He figures to be among the Ports’ leaders in homers again this season, if he stays with the club for the entire year. Paul Rathert spoke to the California native about playing in his home state, getting on the field during the Bay Bridge Series, his personal goals for the season and more…
Oakland Clubhouse: As a California guy, do you enjoy playing pro ball in your home state?
Richie Robnett: Definitely because it’s somewhat familiar territory. I’m not from anywhere around here, I’m from Southern California, but it’s nice to know where you are. You’re not just in some town in the middle of nowhere that no one has ever heard of.
OC: You’re missing the weather down there right now, too, I bet. (It was absolutely pouring in Stockton Tuesday night.)
RR: Oh, definitely.
OC: You got an early taste of the Bay Bridge series in a few games with the A’s this Spring, can you describe the atmosphere?
RR: As far as with the big league guys, very relaxed, just having fun. It still felt like Spring Training in a sense, we were still fine tuning some things. When I went out and stepped on the field at AT&T Park, it was a great experience for me being out there on a big stage. I was a little nervous. I had a lot of adrenaline going. It’s a lot of mixed emotions, but overall I was just real excited to be there. Getting my first hit out of the way was awesome.
OC: What was it like being in the major league clubhouse? What were some of the highlights?
RR: It was raining most of the time I was there, so we never really went out on the field [before the games]. We hung out in the clubhouse and in the cages indoors. I know them and they know me, so it was a comfortable atmosphere. We played cards and just hung out. Pretty much just like every other clubhouse I’ve been in.
OC: I interviewed Coach Steverson over the Spring and when I brought up your name, he said you were a “Definite wonder” and that you would “open some eyes”. What’s it like to draw praise like that from your coach, especially when you know he played in the majors and played with some of the greatest players the game has ever seen?
RR: It’s good, it’s always nice when other people have confidence in you because it helps you have confidence in yourself and makes you want to do well. When other people see that, it means you are doing something right where they think you have some talent and maybe enough talent to make it to the big leagues, which is the ultimate goal.
OC: Are there any major leaguers that you study and take pieces of their game and add it to yours or are you just Richie Robnett?
RR: I just do what I do. I never really followed the game growing up, I just liked playing. Usually whatever I do is unique to me and a lot of times I don’t know what I’m doing, I just do it. People ask me how I do certain things and I really don’t have an answer for them. Growing up, I pretty much taught myself the game just by playing little league and watching other people that I played with and that basically helped me develop my own style.
OC: What are some of the things you are looking forward to this season?
RR: Basically taking what I learned in the instructional league and Spring Training and applying it. That will hopefully help me move up. If I can show them that I can apply what they taught me, then it will help me progress with the organization.
OC: Do you have any personal goals for the year?
RR: To have a consistent approach at the plate, to stay relaxed, not let things get to me. No matter how good or bad a game is going to keep an even head the whole time.
OC: Are you a pretty competitive guy?
RR: Yeah, but I also know how to keep my cool and not get angry. At the same time, I want to win. If I feel like I should’ve performed better then I’ll be upset, but I know to let things go.
OC: You mentioned earlier that you taught yourself how to play. How did you initially get into baseball?
RR: Actually my older brother was playing little league and my dad used to coach his games. I was a very active kid and I saw him playing baseball and it made me want to play. I caught on pretty fast and just continued to play and it’s gotten me this far.