By Kevin T. Czerwinski
Drew Stubbs and the postseason are old friends. So when the Louisville Bats outfielder takes the field Wednesday night against the Durham Bulls during the opening game of the International League playoffs, don't expect the Cincinnati Reds' 2006 first-round pick to have any jitters.
Stubbs is a University of Texas product. The Longhorns are a fixture in the NCAA postseason, winning the College World Series in 2005 with Stubbs serving as one of driving forces of the championship. So while there may be some excitement at Louisville Slugger Field, it won't be any more overwhelming than the 25,000 screaming fans he played in front of at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha.
"The College World Series is probably the biggest games I've played in," Stubbs said. "I played in two of those, so I've been on the grand stage. Anytime you play in that type of environment, it gives you a background of what it would be like to be in that situation. It takes away some of the nerve factor."
Not that Stubbs has displayed much in the way of nerves this season. He began the year in the Florida State League and spent half a season with Class A Advanced Sarasota, where he hit .261 with five homers and 38 RBIs. He got bumped up to Double-A Chattanooga of the Southern League and hit .315 with nine RBIs in 26 games before changing addresses again, this time moving to Louisville.
Stubbs has had a good run with the Bats, helping fuel their playoff drive in August. He hit .293 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 19 games, but was only 4-for-23 (.174) with an RBI in his last six games.
"It's been a pretty smooth transition," Stubbs said. "My goal at the start of the year was to get to Double-A and get significant time there. I was surprised when I got called up here because I had been in Double-A less than a month. So being here is just icing on the cake and the playoff experience is just an added extra.
"There's a lot more excitement around here, too. The two teams on I was on earlier weren't in contention, so it's been fun to be part of a race."