Ryan Raburn, who was recalled from Triple-A Toledo in early July, has made a positive impression in his first month back with the Tigers. He had a two-homer, seven-RBI performance in just his ninth game (July 25), and the 26-year-old outfielder is batting .382 with a .432 on-base percentage over 34 at-bats. A Tampa native who played 12 games with Detroit in 2004, Raburn recently answered some questions from MLBPLAYERS.com:
MLBPLAYERS.com: Tell us a little bit about your success this season since your recall?
Raburn: This has just been awesome. It's been great to get back up to the big leagues after not being here for a few years. It has simply been wonderful for me. I'm a role player and I'm here to fill in whenever and wherever they need me. I've worked hard to get back up here and I'll do whatever I can to stay.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You made your big-league debut in 2004, but you have not played at this level again until recently. How hard was it to be back in the Minors for so long?
Raburn: Once you get a taste, of course it's not easy to go back. It's hard to go back. When I was up in '04, though, I didn't do that good. Being up here, however, was even better than what I expected. I was disappointed to be taken off the roster that next year. That was frustrating, but I've continued to work every day to try and get better.
MLBPLAYERS.com: As a role player, what type of versatility do you bring to the Tigers?
Raburn: With the lineup here, a guy coming up like me has to be able to play more than one position. To get out on the field on a good team like we have here, you have to have something to offer. I haven't played a lot of infield the past few years, but I'm out there every day taking groundballs. I'm trying to keep those skills fresh in case they're needed. Guys will need a day off and if I can play as many positions as possible, all the better.
MLBPLAYERS.com: How did you react in Spring Training upon hearing the news that you were one of the final roster cuts?
Raburn: I was fine. I was happy to get a big-league invite. I didn't start out on the 40-man roster. My goal was to show them I can play. I had the goal of having a good spring, which I did, and when it came in for the last cut, they called me in and told me that I was being sent down. I more or less thanked them for giving me an opportunity.
MLBPLAYERS.com: While down at Triple-A, you worked a lot with Minor League hitting coach and former big-league first baseman Leon Durham. How much has he helped your swing?
Raburn: We worked together every day. He helped me with my consistency. When I started working with him, it seemed that something clicked. Right now, that work has really paid off for me. He's a good hitting coach. He finds what works for different guys and he's really helped me out a lot.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Can you take us through your first home run?
Raburn: It was great. I just wanted to go to the plate and have a good approach and get a nice hit. I connected pretty good and I have hit the ball hard since. That particular home run was a changeup that was left up a bit. I got some good wood on it.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You also have had a seven-RBI, two home-run game. As time goes by, what do you think you will remember most about that game?
Raburn: Everything. It was one of those games that will be hard for me to forget much about. You can call it a career game, I guess. I don't think I could have a game better than that.
MLBPLAYERS.com: After that game, you came in the next afternoon and saw your name on the lineup in the third spot. What was going through your mind then?
Raburn: I thought it was a joke at first. With a lineup like this -- one that is so potent -- to get put in the No. 3 hole meant a lot to me. It was an indication maybe of what the coaches think of me. There are a lot of candidates here to hit third, so it was quite an honor and a great feeling.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Off the field, you were born and raised in Florida. What do you like about your home state?
Raburn: I love it. I love the weather the best. It's like having summer 12 months a year. It never gets cold. That's where I'm from and that's where I'll always live.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You were originally drafted by Tampa. Considering that you are from Florida, was it a difficult decision not to come to terms with that club?
Raburn: I wanted to sign with them out of high school, but after I dropped to the 18th round, that sort of dashed my hopes. I was down a little back then, but after I went to college, I realized just how tough it is to come into this game at a young age. There's a lot to adjust to.
Jeff Moeller is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.