By TIM GAYLE
T.R. Robertson should be prepared for whatever happens in the Alabama All-Star Sports Week baseball games that will be held Tuesday evening at Riverwalk Stadium.
Whether he’s asked to play outfield, infield or pitch, he’s done it before. In fact, in 2015, the Saint James junior played every position on the diamond except first base.
“It was fun,” he said. “During travel ball, I always played center field or shortstop but if anybody ever got hurt, I’d just move to another position. It just helps out working on those little things and it makes going to different positions easier.”
He only played three positions in 2017 – center field, shortstop and pitcher – but was rewarded with his selection by the Capital City Conference coaches as the player of the year and by area coaches with his selection to the South team for the 21 st Alabama All-Star Sports Week.
“It just means a lot,” he said. “A lot of hard work finally paid off. (St. James assistant coach) Tommy Goodson (and head) coach (Keith) Lucky are just helping me out a lot. It just means a lot to me that I finally made it.”
After that whirlwind 2015 season resulted in an area championship, the last two years have been difficult for Robertson. He transferred to Opelika High in 2016 and had some success on the mound (compiling a 7-1 record) but felt out of place almost from the day he arrived.
“My travel ball coach, Billy Jones, was the head coach at Opelika,” Robertson said. “Coach Goodson had coached him at Jeff Davis in high school. He got the job at Opelika and that’s why I wanted to move up there and play for him, but the day I moved up, he got fired. I was stuck up there but I had a really good time playing with Mitch Myers, who had an offer from Alabama, and Jackson Reynolds, who had an offer from Southern Miss.”
He returned to Saint James in 2017, but the move wasn’t as successful this past season as he had hoped. He started the season in the outfield, but was moved to shortstop to provide some experience in the middle and his velocity had dropped, affecting his performance on the mound. Still, there are no complaints or second guessing.
“Getting to come back down and getting to play with Coach Goodson and Coach Lucky was probably one of my best decisions,” he said.
He’s looking forward to playing in the all-star game where his high school coach is the administrative coach for the North and coaches at two of his biggest rivals are coaching his team. LAMP coach Chad Smith serves as one of the two coaches for the South and Trinity coach Ken Whittle is the administrative coach.
“A lot of the players are committed and I just want to see where I am compared to them and their athletic ability,” Robertson said. “I played with (Auburn High pitcher) Drew Jennings when I was a little kid in travel ball. I played with (catcher) Max Champion in Wetumpka. (Hewitt-Trussville pitcher) Carson Skipper, I played with him when we were little. They’re all really good ball players.”
Unlike most of the other Alabama All-Star Sports Week events, baseball players are at the peak of their season when the all-star game arrives so there is no additional preparation needed for the event.
“I’ve been non-stop, Georgia, Orlando, Sarasota,” Robertson said. “Then I got home for a week and went to Georgia for a week, so it’s just been baseball non-stop. I think I’m prepared.”
While several of the state’s top seniors-to-be are committed to major colleges, Robertson remains a mystery to some college recruiters and Major League scouts who want to see more of him against top-caliber competition. The Alabama All-Star Sports Week doubleheader against the North all-stars on Tuesday night will give him that opportunity.
“I went on a visit to Chipola right before school got out,” he said. “I’ve talked some to Alabama and Auburn, nothing major yet. Hopefully, I can show out at the game, too. It would be really, really good and mean a lot.”