Robinson appreciates reception in St. Louis

Former Cardinal receives warm ovation before pinch-hitting for Twins in return to Busch

Robinson appreciates reception in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina kept finding reasons to stall. He kicked dirt around in front of home plate and paced around near his position as a Twins pinch-hitter stepped into the batter's box to lead off the top of the sixth inning of the Cardinals' 3-2 win at Busch Stadium on Monday night.

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What took a crowd of 43,174 a moment to become aware of, Molina noticed right away. The player who emerged from the dugout to hit in place of Twins pitcher Trevor May was former Cardinals outfielder Shane Robinson, and Molina made sure that the St. Louis faithful had time to give the first-year Twin a warm ovation in his first trip back.

They did.

"It's something I'll never forget, coming back to the place where you started and for the fans to acknowledge you in that way after the career I had here," said Robinson, who was drafted by the Cardinals in 2006 and played parts of five seasons in St. Louis (2009, 2011-14).

The "Sugar Shane" moniker that he went by in St. Louis hasn't caught on as well in Minnesota, Robinson said. But he was hitting a career-best .258 entering Tuesday's game.

"It's different being on the other side," Robinson said. "I have a lot of close friends over there. So from that aspect, it's different."

After receiving a warm ovation from the crowd on Monday, Robinson singled up the middle against St. Louis starter John Lackey.

Robinson earned a start in left field on Tuesday, a move that Twins manager Paul Molitor chalked up to needing more right-handers in the lineup against Cardinals starter Michael Wacha -- who has better numbers against lefties -- not sentiment.

Though the Cardinals opted not to re-sign Robinson, manager Mike Matheny offered plenty of reflection upon his time with the organization.

"I loved everything about how Shane played the game," Matheny said. "He was just an all-around, solid player. I think about some of the big hits he had for us and how he was always prepared."

Robinson was generally a fourth outfielder for the Cardinals, not an everyday player. But in the role he filled, he managed to make a lasting impression on the "Sugar Shane" fans who rose to applaud following Molina's stalling tactics on Monday.

"It seems like they really liked how I played the game here and how I carried myself," Robinson said. "I just try and take pride in those things, and it was very humbling and I'm very grateful for the cheers. I'm glad Yadi and Lackey gave them enough time, because I was like, 'All right, guys.'

"Then they announced my name, the crowd realized I was up there, and it was pretty neat."

David Cobb is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.