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Rohlinger Serves as Clippers Mr. Reliable

Rohlinger Serves as Clippers Mr. Reliable

| On 02, Jun 2014

The Cleveland Indians have a secret infield gem waiting in Columbus, and he goes by the name of Ryan Rohlinger.

The 30-year-old infielder has been with the Indians since 2012 and has been a key to the Clippers’ lineup since then. Clippers Media Director and Historian, Joe Santry, referred to Rohlinger as “Mr. Reliable” for his versatility on the diamond. In 2014, he has started games at every infield position with the exception of pitcher and catcher. Primarily a second baseman this year, Rohlinger has played 26 games at second, 15 games at third base, 14 games at shortstop and two games at first, which he has not done at the Triple-A level in his career.

In 2013, Rohlinger primarily played third base (57 games), but he also played 26 games at shortstop and nine games at second base.

The West Bend, Wisconsin-native has also been productive at the plate this season with a .275 batting average, 41 hits, including a team best of 11 doubles (tied with Jesus Aguilar) in his 44 game appearances.

Rohlinger is one of the few Clippers players who brings MLB experience to the table. He started his career in the San Francisco Giants farm system where he played for the Salem-Keizer Valcanoes (Single-A Short Season) in 2006, the Augusta GreenJackets (Single-A) in 2007 and the San Jose Giants (Single-A Advanced) and the Connecticut Defenders (Double-A) in 2008 before getting to the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate, the Fresno Grizzlies, in 2009.

During his run in the Giants’ farm system, he played with many past, present and future MLB players including Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Pat Burrell, Edgar Renteria, Rich Aurilia and former Cleveland Indians shortstop Omar Vizquel.

Rohlinger also had a lot of success at the plate during his minor league run with the Giants including hitting .311 in 2010 with Fresno and .289 with Connecticut and San Jose in 2008, which helped him get his first career call-up to MLB. He played a total of 46 games for San Francisco including 21 in 2008, 12 in 2009, 12 in 2010 and one in 2011.

He learned a lot about the big leagues with his time with the Giants, especially taking in the bright lights of AT&T Park.

“They wanted me to play as if I was playing in the backyard,” Rohlinger said. “Catch ball, throw ball, hit ball is what they basically tried to get me to do. They could tell I was nervous in my first few games so I tried to bring that here [to the Indians’ organization].”

With the Giants, Rohlinger learned how to maintain his body for long baseball career.

“You’ve got to come in every day and work hard,” Rohlinger said. “Baseball is a long season, so when you’re coming up with the Giants, playing every day, it’s a lot more difficult than college, so you’re just learning how to take care of your body.

Another lesson the Wisconsin-native had to learn in NL West was dealing with the harsh summer conditions.

“A couple places I’ve played at with the Giants were really hot,” Rohlinger said. “So you have to stay hydrated, take care of your body ready to work and perform on the field every day.”

In June 2011, the Giants put Rohlinger on waivers where he was picked up by the Colorado Rockies. He played 70 games for the Colorado Springs SkySox in 2011 with a .284 batting average and 69 hits.

After being released by the Rockies in November 2011, the Indians signed him as a free agent two months later. Rohlinger spent the majority of 2012 with the Akron Aeros where he played 108 games at the Double-A level and got the chance to play four games with the Clippers in the middle of the season.

Rohlinger spent all of 2013 and all of the current season with the Clippers.

“It’s been a great experience,” Rohlinger said. “Columbus is one of the better places to play. Obviously if you’re in Triple-A it’s a great atmosphere, great feel, great organization and great teammates. It’s been a lot of fun and I’m still enjoying playing baseball.”

Baseball is something than Rohlinger has been involved with his whole life and he had an uncle that made it into MLB.

“I knew at a young age that I wanted to play baseball,” he said. “My uncle pitched in the minors for 10 years and the majors for a few days, so it’s in my family.”

His uncle was Willie Mueller, who pitched 10 years in the Milwaukee Brewers farm system from 1974 to 1983 and played six games with the Brewers including five games in 1978 and one in 1981.

Rohlinger says his family spent a lot of time playing baseball together while he was growing up.

“During the weekends, my two older brothers, my cousin, my uncles, my grandpa played back home a lot,” he said.  “We’d go to the ball field during the weekends and take batting practice and take ground balls.”

The Clippers are currently on the road where they will play Louisville, Gwinnett and Charlotte over the next nine days before returning to Columbus for eight games against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Buffalo from June 12-19.

Photo: Toledo Blade