DALLAS - I’m happy to report that legendary third baseman Brooks Robinson is here as part of baseball’s Golden Era Committee, which voted Ron Santo into the Hall of Fame, and that he’s feeling much better these days.
Robinson looked frail and unsteady during the ceremony on Oct. 22 to unveil his statue outside of Camden Yards. He’s had a litany of health issues, and will undergo two more procedures this winter, but he seems to be doing fine.
He stood for quite a while as reporters peppered him with questions about Santo, and he’s still smiling and talking to a small group inside the media workroom as I type this entry. A table is set up next to him, but he hasn’t needed to lean on it for support or sit back down.
Robinson will undergo hernia surgery, and he has a tube inserted into his liver to, as he explained it, “stretch the bile duct so nothing gets caught up in it again. That’s where all my problems came from. But I’m feeling good.”
Pointing to his stomach, he said, “It looks like the baby’s due. But after the middle of January, I’ll be all finished. No problem.”
Robinson hasn’t met new Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette, but he approves of the front office restructuring.
“I think we need some some new blood there. This has gone on long enough,” he said.
“They’ve got some good players. I think the pitchers, they got some lessons this year. I don’t think they were used to the adversity when they got here, and some of them weren’t able to handle it. They had arm problems, a couple of them, but I think they should be a lot better next year.
“We need them. You never get enough pitching. I guess all these guys down here are looking for pitching.”
Robinson has talked to manager Buck Showalter on a few occasions and noted the similarity to Hall of Famer Earl Weaver.
“I’m sure he had a lot to say about who became general manager,” Robinson said.
“I like Buck. He doesn’t miss a thing. One time I talked to him, and (Adam) Jones hit a hot ground ball to shortstop, ran about halfway and saw that it was going to be a double play and didn’t run through first base. (Showalter) had the guys upstairs who do the films bring the film down and they brought Jones in the office and showed him, and he said, ‘Hey, you’re not going to be the leader if you do this. Forget about it.’ That impressed me quite a bit. He doesn’t miss a thing out there on the field. He’s writing a lot of notes all the time. I like that.”
Robinson was curious about the Orioles’ plans for third base, which probably comes as no surprise, since he won 16 Gold Gloves at the position. The man knows a thing or two about the hot corner.
Mark Reynolds committed 26 errors at third base before the Orioles moved him to first, where he’s projected to start on Opening Day.
“He’s got to be much better than that,” Robinson said. “Matt Williams worked with him out there (in Arizona). Some of the errors were just careless errors, where he threw balls when he shouldn’t throw them, but he’s a much better third baseman than he’s showed. But at first base, I don’t think I saw him misplay a ball. Maybe one or two, but the short hops at first base, he got every one of them.”