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For some people, the route to Triple-A is smooth and quick.
For Brandon Douglas, advancing to the Mud Hens was neither smooth nor quick.
After he was drafted by Detroit in 2008, he spent most of the past four seasons in Double-A with the Erie SeaWolves. It was not until this year that he began the season with Triple-A for the first time.
“My first couple of years, I did well but was bit by the injury bug,” Douglas said. “Then I got to Erie, and I was healthy — but it seemed my best wasn’t good enough.
“I would come back the next year, and there were times that guys would jump me.”
Give credit to Douglas: When many players may have complained about their bad fortune — or simply quit the game — the Hens infielder kept a positive attitude and kept working until he earned the promotion to Toledo.
“I told myself, ‘There aren’t a lot of guys who get to Double-A. And I’m playing a game I love,’” Douglas said. “Working from 8-to-5 isn’t as good as showing up at a ballpark and doing what I’m doing.
“I just tried to keep grinding.”
Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said that the best “tool” Douglas possesses is his willingness to work hard.
“He has a good arm, not a great arm,” Parrish said of Douglas. “He runs good but not great.
“But he has a lot of tenacity. And to me, that’s the best compliment you can give a guy: When you put [Douglas] in the lineup, you don’t have to worry about his effort.”
Douglas has been a versatile Hen, seeing action at both second base (55 games) and third (12) as well as one game in the outfield. He entered Tuesday’s game with a .237 batting average, three home runs, and 22 RBIs in 67 games.
Douglas is a career .292 hitter in the minor leagues, but the Iowa native said he has kept his chin up this season thanks to help from a variety of sources.
“You have to have great teammates, and you have to have great family support,” he said. “I’ve been lucky in that I’ve always played on great teams — and this has been one of the best teams I’ve ever played with.
“So when I have a tough game, guys in the clubhouse are picking me up. … It’s great to know those guys have my back.”
Douglas entered the All-Star break with a .213 average, so he used the break as an opportunity to recharge his batteries. The results were effective: He has hit .375 with seven extra-base hits, and seven RBIs.
“In Triple-A you’re not going to get many pitches that you can just place wherever you want,” Douglas said. “If pitchers here make a mistake, you have to swing the bat. …
“At this level pitchers are going to hit their spots. So you have to hammer mistakes.”
“I love this game,” Douglas said. “I was in the same place for four years, and now I get to come to this beautiful ballpark and play in front of sold-out crowds every night, and that gets me going.
“And my teammates expect that from me. The guy on the mound expects me to dive for balls and get my uniform dirty. I play with the attitude that I don’t want any teammate to think I gave up on a ball or didn’t give me best effort.”
Parrish said that attitude will serve Douglas well for the rest of his career.
“He’s a guy that grinds it out, and keeps grinding,” Parrish said. “No matter where he finishes up in the game, he can look in the mirror and not worry about ‘What if?’
“He can look in the mirror and say, ‘I gave it my best shot.’ A lot of players retire and wonder what might have happened if they had applied themselves. He won’t have to wonder.”
AT THE PLATE: Brandon Douglas
■ Position: Infielder.
■ Ht./Wt.: 6-0/200.
■ Hometown: Knoxville, Iowa
■ Age: 28.
■ Family: Single.
■ Nickname: Dougie or Scrap Iron.
■ Favorite way to spend time away from the field: We don’t get a lot of down time, so when we do I like to sleep or watch a movie.
■ Baseball player you admired growing up: Chipper Jones. I liked the way he played the game, and the Braves always were on TV.
■ Favorite sport other than baseball: Football. I always loved the contact. It’s a great way to run around and hit people.
■ Favorite music: I like a lot of different things, but my favorites are “boy bands” like ‘N Sync and Backstreet Boys.
■ Favorite meal: Give me a pepperoni pizza and I’m good to go.
■ Favorite beverage: Coca-Cola Classic.
■ Favorite movie: Bull Durham or Varsity Blues. I could watch those movies all day long.
■ Favorite TV show: Breaking Bad.
■ Do you have a Twitter account? @BrandonDouglas5
■ Person you most admire: My brother, Brett. He always pushed me and always made me better. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him.
■ If you could meet any person who would it be? I like to meet John F. Kennedy. I love history and I am fascinated by his presidency. It would be cool to sit down and talk to him.
■ Top sports moment: In Charlotte this year Hernan [Perez] and I made a play that ended up in the SportsCenter Top 10. It was the greatest play I’ve ever been a part of, and I watch 10-15 times a day. I’m not kidding — it gives me chills.
■ Baseball superstitions: I try to do my stretch routine the same way every day. And I tie double knots in my shoes.
■ Something nobody knows about you: Brett is my twin brother. We had a lot of fun growing up [pulling switches]. I actually took a couple of quizzes for him — and I always did my best.