Saturday Mar 13 2010
Alcombrack's new uniform is the right fit
By: Bob Ripley, Special to the Journal
After parting ways with Cleveland, Bear River grad finds success with Texas
Editor’s note: The following is the first half of an interview with Bear River High graduate Robbie Alcombrack, who is in spring training with the Texas Rangers. Auburn’s Bob Ripley caught up with Alcombrack in Arizona last week. For Part 2, see Monday’s Journal. By Bob Ripley Special to the Journal In June of 2006, Grass Valley’s Robbie Alcombrack graduated from Bear River High School. A week later, he was employed with the Cleveland Indians Major League Baseball team after being drafted in the seventh round of the MLB amateur draft. The Indians sent the young catcher to their Gulf Coast league team, (rookie level), then to Burlington, another rookie team in the Appalachian League. In 2007, Alcombrack was again assigned to the rookie level team in the Gulf Coast league, then was promoted to the Cleveland A-level team in Lake County, Ohio, a Sally League team. The following year, he was assigned to a low-A team in Mahoning Valley, a New York –Pennsylvania League team. In 2009, Alcombrack asked for, and received his release from the Indians and was picked up by an independent team in Michigan where he excelled throughout the year. Not giving up, Alcombrack persistently put his name out there and began training for the next season. Shortly after, his efforts paid off as the Texas Rangers called him for a tryout and he made the team. At spring training in Surprise, Ariz. last week, Alcombrack’s smile was constant and his enthusiasm unbridled as he talked about his new lease on life and his excitement with being a part of a new, quality organization. Q: Congratulations on being picked up by the Texas Rangers! Have you gotten any batting tips from Vlad Guerrero yet? A: No tips yet, but I did catch the Major League team in batting practice when he was hitting the other day. He crushed everything and never went out of his zone for a pitch. He was very nice to me, as are the other players here. Q: Is it a different atmosphere here with Texas compared to Cleveland last year? A: Yes, absolutely. Here, they pretty much leave you alone to be yourself. They don’t mess with your swing or mechanics too much and they encourage you all the time. You get the feeling that they really trust you here, which is awesome. With Cleveland, that wasn’t always the case. They tried to mold me into something I wasn’t and were pretty critical at times. It’s truly been a blessing, being here and I’m having a blast. I feel that I’m a good fit for this organization and they feel the same way — I think I am making a favorable impression here. Q: What have you been doing this offseason? A: I threw a little during the fall then, out of the blue, the Rangers called after the first of the year and said they were very surprised that I was still out there as a free agent and wanted to see me for a tryout in Sacramento. I had a great workout and they signed me on the spot. After that, I headed straight for Arizona to get ready for the season. Q: What are your goals during this spring training? A: My goal right now is to make the Rangers’ high-A team in Bakersfield. It would be close to home and my family could see lots of games. I have been told by the organization that the sky is the limit right now for the minor league catchers and that positions are open all the way up through Double-A ball. Q: This time last year, you were with the Cleveland Indians in spring training and things were looking good for you. Then, suddenly, you were no longer with that team. What happened? A: Well, I was told that they just didn’t see a spot for me. That’s all they said. No explanation or anything. It didn’t make sense because I had a great spring with them. So I asked for my release, they wished me the best and that was that. I was looking forward to catching on with some other team at that point, but it turned out to be impossible as all the teams were breaking camp and had their squads all set. Q: Did that experience have a big effect on you? A: It did. I think it really helped to mature me, to go forward in the face of adversity. I also learned that spring to just pay attention to myself and my activities and not worry about how well the other catchers might be doing.