Six years ago, Drew Stubbs was a highly regarded Cincinnati Reds prospect about to play his first full professional season. He’s still looking to fulfill his potential. It’s happening with a new team, at a new position. The Cleveland Indians have moved the 28-year-old speedster to right field to make room in center for Michael Bourn.
Stubbs has struggled at the plate. In three-plus seasons his slash line is .241/.312/.386. He’s hit 59 home runs but has struck out 588 times in 2,004 plate appearances. In the eyes of many Reds fans, he should have taken fewer pitches, cut down on his swing and bunted more often.
The University of Texas product first talked to me about his game during an interview for Baseball America, in March 2007. This weekend, he addressed many of the same topics.
David Laurila: We first talked in 2007. Has your career gone as expected?
Drew Stubbs: At that time, my goal was to make it to the big leagues and have a career. Now that I’m here and have a few years under my belt, I can only look to continue to get better. I don’t think I’ve tapped into the full potential of what I can do at this level. Hopefully I’ll keep coming along.
DL: You said your game was based on speed. Is that still the case?
DS: Speed is something I’m blessed to have and a lot of players aren’t. Whether it’s playing the outfield or running the bases, it is something you can’t coach or teach, so I try to use it to my advantage.
DL: Some people in Cincinnati feel you didn’t take enough advantage of your speed. Is that a fair criticism?
DS: I guess that’s because I didn’t get on base enough. It’s a hard question to answer. I don’t think it was by choice. Obviously, I’d have loved to get on base at a better clip and use my speed. It’s not something I had and simply chose not to use.
DL: In our initial conversation, you disagreed with reports saying your swing was a little long. You said your strikeout totals influence that perception.
DS: I think if you go and ask my coaches, they’ll say I don’t have a long swing. The strikeouts probably aren’t due to that. They can be due to a variety of things.
DL: Is it mostly a pitch-recognition issue?
DS: That has a lot to do with it. And if you get a pitch to hit, don’t miss it. Don’t foul it off. Be ready. If I had a clear cut solution, I’d have already put it into play.
DL: What are you working on with your new hitting coach?
DS: A good thing Ty [Van Burkleo] does is, when I first got here, he kind of took an inventory of things I’ve worked on and things that work for me. We’re trying to continue on with that instead of me coming in and him forcing his way on me. As a player, you like that.
DL: In other words, you’re not remaking yourself, just continuing to evolve?
DS: I think that’s every hitter. You see guys come back with different stances, different ideals and stuff like that. The game is constantly changing, and to stay up with that you have to make adjustments on the run. You have to continue to evolve.
DL: How does Terry Francona compare to Dusty Baker?
DS: They’re both great guys to play for. They’re available to talk to. They’re up front with you and try to keep you on the same page with everything. That’s the biggest thing I can say about them. Anything you need or have a concern about, you can go to them with.
DL: How has the move to right field gone so far?
DS: So far the transition has gone pretty smoothly. I’ve had a very limited number of reps out there, but it’s mostly a matter of different positioning and the ball coming off the bat at different angles. That’s the biggest thing I have to adjust to. By opening day, I’ll be ready to go. I think we’re going to have a solid outfield.