Texas ex Stubbs making most of home with Express


Highlights

Center fielder batting .308 and catching most everything.

Some tweaks helping 32-year-old show new side to his game.

Nine-year major league veteran also is an excellent golfer.

Drew Stubbs relishes a return to the major leagues, but in the meantime it’s pretty nice to be able to drive to his house after home games.

The former University of Texas All-American and Tarrytown resident is on his third tour of duty in the Texas Rangers organization, patrolling center field for the Round Rock Express.

“Being at home is a huge thing, close to friends and family, having some semblance of normalcy,” Stubbs said after the Express’ 7-3 loss to Memphis on Sunday at Dell Diamond. “There’s a lot to be said for the comforts of home, sleeping in your own bed, the familiarity of it all.”

Stubbs is taking advantage, batting .308 over 30 games with a career-high .440 on-base percentage. A power-speed player who has always struck out a lot, the nine-year MLB veteran has made some changes at the plate since being waived by San Francisco in early May.

“When you’re an established major leaguer, get older and have some struggles, teams may attribute that decline to age or whatever,” the 32-year-old said. “You can be tagged or labeled a certain way. So it’s my job to change the perception teams may have.

“Defense and speed are the cornerstones of my game. Yet I can get on base and still hit the ball out of the park.”

Stubbs is a top defender who hit 15 home runs and stole 20 bases in 388 MLB at bats as recently as 2014. In a two-year stretch in Cincinnati, he scored 183 runs and swiped 70 bags over 2010-11.

“This (Texas) organization wouldn’t keep coming after him if it didn’t believe he has the talent to help the big league club,” Round Rock Manager Jason Wood said.

“Drew is still in his prime, roaming the outfield really well. He’s almost like a gazelle out there. Offensively, he made an adjustment, his plate discipline is a lot better, and he’s walking more than in the past.”

Stubbs has drawn 21 walks to 27 strikeouts in 104 at-bats to go with 12 extra-base hits and 25 runs scored. He’s batting .467 with runners in scoring position.

“I’ve made some tweaks,” said the center fielder on the Longhorns’ 2005 College World Series championship team. “I’ve kind of spread out a little bit. I was batting a little more upright, so I wanted to simplify the stance as much as possible. It’s allowed me to recognize pitches a little better and put good swings on the ball.”

Stubbs, who has earned more than $15 million in baseball, had a June 15 escape clause in his contract and has another July 1 but said, “Unless there’s a big league opportunity, it makes no sense for me to leave home for another Triple-A team.”

Stubbs’ wife, Brooke, served a residency in internal medicine at University Medical Center Brackenridge and will pursue a physician’s job.

On the rare day off from baseball, Stubbs can usually be found at Austin Country Club, where he’s a member and shot a 72 last offseason.

“That’s my best,” he said. “It was one of those days where everything was going right and I rolled in some putts. Most of the time I’m doing pretty good to break 80. I’ve whittled down my handicap over the last few years to a 5 or 6.”

In the meantime, Stubbs will try to stay the course that drives him back to the big leagues.

“It’s about showing teams I can still do the things I’ve done in the past,” he said.



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