PHOENIX -- Outfielder Shane Robinson secured a spot on the Cardinals roster with a terrific spring but is now left with the challenge of maintaining that momentum while playing only sparingly.
Robinson led the team with a .458 Grapefruit League average (minimum 25 at-bats) and ranked third on the club with 14 RBIs. He never went more than two games without a hit, something Robinson credits to a simplified approach that he hopes will help him as a pinch-hitter.
"It's a challenge not being in there every day, but I'll have treat my work in the cage and during BP almost like a game-type situation so that I can stay fresh and not lose what I had going in spring," Robinson said. "Last year, I think I was kind of still working with my swing and understanding what I needed to do as a pinch-hitter off the bench. This year, I found my swing early in the spring."
Finding playing time for Robinson will be a tricky task for manager Mike Matheny. Robinson will be called upon to play center when Jon Jay needs a breather, though scheduled days off are a rarity for Jay. Robinson could slide into either corner outfield spots, too, but with Matt Adams on the roster, those assignments look increasingly likely to go to Allen Craig.
By playing Craig in the outfield, the Cardinals would be able to plug the power-hitting Adams in at first base.
Robinson said he believes he will also be helped by the experience of having inconsistent playing time while on the Major League roster last year. Though Robinson appeared in 102 games for the Cardinals in 2012, he started only 29 times. Robinson had 11 hits in 50 pinch-hit at-bats. It marked the first extended period of his career where he wasn't an everyday player.
"Now is the challenge of trying to take what [he] had and keep it there, which is hard to do when you're not getting a lot of opportunities," Matheny said. "He's got a pretty good idea now of what it looks like to be on the bench. You really have to be prepared to work twice as hard as the guys who are playing every day."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.