Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The New and Improved Robert Andino

I have not been a big fan of Robert Andino. And that would be an understatement.

When he arrived to the Orioles in 2009, I thought he was fine. Not a good player but just fine. I even advocated for the release of Cesar Izturis since I saw Andino as a younger, cheaper version of Izzy who might just develop a slightly better bat.

But after watching defensive lapses, baserunning errors and just a general lack of effort that season, I began to sour on him.

After watching him during Spring Training in 2010 and a couple of Tides games early in the season, I wrote this exactly one year ago:

Whenever a player is sent back to the minors, you would like to think it won't affect his attitude. In Andino's case, it looks like it has. I am not normally one to jump on players for not trying or not hustling when they are playing poorly but Andino barely looked interested. He failed to run hard on a groundout to short even though he certainly had a fair chance of making it to first safely...and made no effort to throw to first to complete a double-play later in the game. Both those plays were makable but Andino just didn't make the extra effort....He misplayed a flare that dropped for a hit in the 4th and made a throwing error in the 8th that seem to be extensions of the general lack of focus on defense that he displayed in Spring Training. It's just one game but I don't want to see him back in Baltimore. I'm not sure I even want to see him in Norfolk.

Like I said, I don't call a player out for not hustling on a regular basis. It's a long season and guys will make mistakes or not hustle on occasion. I get that so I don't call a guy out at a drop of the hat. I didn't join the "Brian Roberts isn't hustling" movement we saw from fans a couple years ago.

But Andino had worn my patience thin. He had a great opportunity in Spring Training and throughout the 2010 season to come play in Baltimore. Brian Roberts missed most of the season. Izturis has a really bad year at the plate. But even with those opportunities staring him in the face, he just couldn't get his head right. I figured his days as a useful player were over.

Fast forward to 2011. Andino has filled in admirably for the injured J.J. Hardy hitting .314/.397/.392 over 18 games. He has not been caught stealing, has not been picked off and is generally running the bases really well. He has 3 infield hit, including a bunt hit and has yet to hit into a double play. He has made 3 errors at shortstop but has shown fine range, a good arm and is making the routine plays that he used to occasionally botch.

I am not lobbying for Andino to be a starter, not ever. And you have to worry a little about a guy who is so sensitive that he needs a bunch of "atta boys" to give it his all on the field but he's a changed player in 2011. No doubt about it.

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