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July 14, 2010

Minor Issues

Nicknames and Rehab, with Robbie Weinhardt

by David Laurila

Robbie Weinhardt has had an up-and-down summer. Buoyed by a strong showing in spring training, the 24-year-old righthander began the year with Triple-A Toledo in just his second full professional season. He is now working out of the Tigers bullpen -- Weinhardt made his big-league debut on July 7 -- but only after going on the shelf and rehabbing in short-season Connecticut. “Snobby Robbie” talked teammates and nicknames during his late-June rehab stint.

On camaraderie and rehabbing in short-season ball: “ A big thing for a team, I believe, is camaraderie. You’re spending a whole season with guys, every day, long hours. I feel that if you can’t have a good relationship with these guys, you’re going to have problems and it could affect you off the field and on the field. You might not like a guy on the team, but you have to play with him. If you have issues with a teammate, you have to put them aside when you’re on the field.”

“Coming down here [to short-season Connecticut] is a good thing, camaraderie-wise. You spend a lot of time hanging out together, and like with this rain delay today, everyone is in such a small little area, which is different from Toledo, or the other ballparks in the International League, where you have larger locker rooms. There, you have areas where you can move around and get away from guys, but here it’s all small spaces. That’s what I was just doing, hanging around inside with these guys and talking. I was listening to them, but also telling them about stuff I’ve been through, up and down from high-A to Double-A to Triple-A.”

“I can tell that some of these guys are stressing already, and they’re barely into their season. I’m really enjoying being able to talk to them and hopefully helping them out while I’m down here. Because I’m a little older, everyone kind of looks up to me a little bit -- I’ve already been told that -- and if I see something, they want me to interact with them and give them anything they can use to grow on.”

On his injury: “I was out for just under a month. I tore my teres major [muscle], which is in your lower shoulder. There are different grades of it and mine wasn’t a high-grade tear. It was small, so it was just a matter of getting rid of the pain so I could get stronger. That’s why I’m down here, to get my shoulder stronger. Once it is, I should be going back to Toledo, and hopefully I‘ll eventually make it to Detroit.”

On spring training rumors that he had a shot at starting the season in Detroit: “That was something I didn’t think was really going to happen. I spoke with the upper management in Detroit, and the coaching staff, and they told me that they loved what I did in camp, and that they appreciate the hard work that I put in, but there was some stuff that I needed to work on. I also knew that I had to work on some stuff. That’s why I was excited to go down to Toledo and work with [pitching coach] .A.J. [Sager] and L.P. [manager Larry Parrish] to get myself ready, so that when I do get the opportunity to get up to Detroit, I can stay up there and do well.”

On his nickname: Casper Wells tells people that it’s because I was snobby, but really…there were five of us that lived together in a house, in Scottsdale, during the [Arizona] Fall League. It was Wells, Scott Drucker, me, and two guys who are in different organizations -- Omar Aguilar, with the Indians, and Sean Watson, with the Reds -- and we all lived together. Those guys weren’t afraid to hold anything back, and I was kind of the quiet one -- I didn’t want to play video games; I just kind of wanted to hang out -- so they started calling me “Snobby Robbie”. Everyone in the house had a nickname besides me, so they decided to give me one, too.”

On nicknames in the Tigers system: We called Casper “Wellsy”. Drucker was “DJ Diesel,” because he’s a DJ in the off-season and is always messing around with his music. Here [in Connecticut], I like to mess with Brett Anderson and call him “Pup,” because he’s so young; I’m six years older than him. In Toledo, everyone calls [Scott] Sizemore “Size”. We’d call Ryan Strieby “Polar Bear,” because he’s just massive. Dontrelle Willis actually gave him that name and it stuck. Mine kind of has, too, even though I’m not at all snobby.”

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Premium Article All-Star Game Preview:... (07/13)
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