"It was great. I had a fun time," said Grossman, who began this season with Double-A Altoona.
The only blemish on a stellar 2011 was that Grossman, 22, fractured the hamate bone in his right hand at the end of the AFL season in November. He said his hand was in a cast for about four weeks, and the rest of the offseason was spent getting healthy for 2012.
"Robbie carried much of his success and approach from the 2011 season into the AFL with him. Unfortunately his time there was cut short with the hand injury," according to Larry Broadway, the director of Minor League operations for Pittsburgh. "He worked as hard as he could within the constraints of his rehab program to get ready for Spring Training, and it showed as he came into camp in very good shape."
Grossman, the No. 8 prospect in the Pirates' farm system, was batting .234 after hitting a triple and scoring a run May 16 at Bowie. But he then was hitless in his next 13 at-bats and was hitting .214 in his first 154 at bats through Sunday with Altoona. Grossman, however, has continued to hit for power with eight doubles, two triples and three home runs to go along with six steals and 24 walks.
"I'm trying to make adjustments and have fun," Grossman said. "The pitchers here are much better. They can throw every pitch for a strike.
"I am just staying positive," added the switch-hitter. "I have confidence in what I am doing. If I get a pitch to hit, I don't want to miss it."
Grossman hit just five homers with West Virginia in 451 at-bats in 2009 but improved his slugging percentage to .451 last year at Bradenton after a mark of .345 in the Florida State League in 2010.
"Robbie has handled the jump fine so far. He is starting to settle in and get more comfortable [at Altoona]," said Broadway. "The most important thing for him moving forward is learning how to prepare and compete at the upper levels of the Minor Leagues. There is a certain professionalism and ownership that comes with the graduation from [Class A] to the upper levels, and ultimately that's where guys can create separation for themselves as the gaps in raw talent from player to player narrow."
Grossman played right field most of 2011 but has been a regular in center field and as a leadoff hitter so far this year for the Curve.
"I am working to get better routes to the ball and feel I can play all three outfield positions," he said.
"Robbie will continue to get exposure in center field and can certainly handle the corners," according to Broadway.
Big day falls short: Portland's Bryce Brentz collected four hits Sunday and Reynaldo Rodriguez belted his team-high eighth homer, but it wasn't enough as the Sea Dogs fell, 11-7, to visiting Binghamton and dropped to 15-27 overall. "Our offense showed a lot of guts. We're still in the game, even though the opposing club scores in every inning but one," Portland manager Kevin Boles told The Portland Press Herald. Brentz, who upped his average to .302 after batting .452 over a 10-game span through Sunday, had five hits May 13 in a losing effort at Trenton.
McFarland on a roll: Akron left-hander T.J. McFarland improved to 8-1 in nine starts Sunday with a 3-2 win at home against Richmond. Drafted by the Indians in the fourth round out of an Illinois high school in 2007, he has an ERA of 1.79 for the Aeros.
Turning it around: Altoona fell to 13-22 after losing its sixth straight game earlier this month. But the Curve won their sixth game in a row Sunday, 5-0, at home against Erie and improved to 19-22. "Whether it's just about having fun or not I have no idea, but I know we're all playing well now and we're picking each other up," catcher Tony Sanchez told The Altoona Mirror.