Tray Day: Animated Rookie Robinson Gives M's Fans a Reason to Keep Watching

Dustin Ackley might be the second coming of Chase Utley, but he's one stoic motherfucker. Such a lack of outward emotion is a trait that earns one praise among hardball peers, but my, how the camera loves Trayvon Robinson, another five-tool Mariner rookie who can't stop smiling after a dazzling catch in left field or demonstrably rolling his eyeballs in response to a questionable called third strike.

Robinson is a 23-year-old African-American who grew up in Los Angeles. In a sport that's had well-publicized struggles to attract stateside blacks to the diamond, he's something of a rarity. His on-field look is refreshingly retro: a switch-hitter, Robinson wears a double-flapped helmet and high stirrups in an age of exposed ears and baggy pants.

He came to the Mariners from the Dodgers' AAA affiliate in the three-team deal that sent pitcher Erik Bedard to Boston in July. This doubtless dashed Robinson's best-case scenario, which would have seen him make his major-league debut with his hometown Dodgers. But after putting up a little-league line--6 for 9, raising his batting average to a team-high .321--in yesterday's doubleheader split with the Indians in Cleveland, it's hard to imagine Robinson minds all that much.

As longtime Mariner fans know, left field has been a notoriously decrepit position for Seattle's notoriously decrepit franchise. Yet good as Robinson's been over a limited sample size, he might not be the M's left fielder of the future in the post-Ichiro era, which will commence sometime around next year's trade deadline unless the M's Japanese ownership cock-blocks Jackie Z. Once that happens, expect Robinson to cede left field to the weaker-armed likes of Mike Carp and Casper Wells and make a beeline for right and the top of the batting order.

Provided, of course, he keeps up the good work. To count on that would be to ignore the calamitous totality of Mariner history, but it's always fun while it lasts.

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