Zobrist reaches kids through Sandlot Club
Sportsmanship, teamwork emphasized while playing baseball
ST. PETERSBURG -- If there was one player on the Rays that knows fundamentals, it's Ben Zobrist.
The utility man who can play all around the field and bat from both sides of the plate helped pitcher David Price retire the first four batters in Thursday's 6-0 win over the Indians. Afterward, Zobrist met up with children from his Sandlot Club to teach them fundamentals of the game.
"You can learn some things from watching their innocence and just the way they do things -- there's just not a whole lot of complication about it," Zobrist said. "For me, it's kind of an energizing thing."
The day started with a tour through the clubhouse and training rooms, where jerseys of the kids' favorite players hung. They then returned out to the field, where they played a pickup game of hardball.
"My ERA got inflated somewhat," Zobrist, who pitched the entire time, joked. "I don't take it to heart too much. We had a fun time, and it's just fun to see all the kids out there."
The game itself was full of entertainment. Though Zobrist got touched up for a few homers, there were still some great plays in the field and smiles on the kids' faces by the end.
The Sandlot Cub was created in 2010 by Zobrist to help at-risk children in the community learn teamwork through basic baseball skills.
"These kids are learning how to cheer for each other, how to encourage, to basically teach each other the game as they go about it," Zobrist said. "All those things are really important in the game of baseball. They don't do everything perfect, but that's part of the reason I love playing."
The Pinellas County Police Athletic League, whose mission is to provide youths with alternatives from violence and games, is partnering with the Sandlot Club.
Greg Zeck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.