Q&A with Mark Fleury

Carolina backstop Mark Fleury has made the most of his Cape Cod League opportunity this summer. The rising junior from Roswell, Ga. played for the Harwich Mariners and earned a spot in the CCBL All-Star Game -- and left his mark at that event. Inside Carolina was able to catch up with him during his stay in the prestigious wooden bat league.

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What was it like playing in the Cape Cod All-Star Game - hitting the game winning home run?
"It was exciting to say the least. It was right after the streakers came out [on the field] - it was hectic and a crazy inning and it was fun and exciting."

What has it been like playing on the Cape this year?
"It has been unreal. We face a schools' ace every night - you can see so many talented players - guys that will be in the big leagues some day. It is tough but you are seeing the best talent around."

How has your success in the CCBL impacted your confidence in your abilities?
"It does not really mean that much - just a good couple of weeks. Baseball is humbling because right now I am not hitting the ball too well. It has proven a lot to me personally because I feel like I belonged here. I told the coaches at the beginning of the year - if I was not able to play in the Cape I was not going to play summer ball. Since day one I felt like I been capable of playing up here and I kept going and Coach Holbrook and Forbes worked hard for me and they got me a spot up here at Harwich."

How was the All Star Night at Fenway Park?
"It was awesome. We got to talk with [Jonathan] Papelbon and go on the field during batting practice and go wherever we wanted to go. It was cool - it was an awesome place and being able to see Manny's [Ramirez] last game as a Red Sox was pretty cool. It is a nice park."

UNC has a great opportunity next year to participate in the ACC Tournament in Fenway Park next year - what do you think that will be like?
"The ACC guys on our team were talking about that - hopefully Boston College will be in it so there will be some fan support kind of like Florida State had in Jacksonville. We are excited - I hope we are one of the top eight teams next year - I would expect us to be..."

With Tim Federowicz now playing in Lowell with the Spinners in the Red Sox farm system what do you think about the competition to catch at UNC next season?
"It is a clean slate - Timmy has had the job at UNC since he got there his freshman year. We will all have to work really hard. This fall will have a lot to do about it. Mike McKee is coming back and two freshmen that are going to come in and challenge McKee and I for some playing time. We have to keep improving and working on our game in order to get on the field."

Has the coaching staff given you anything to work on in particular this summer?
"Not really - they want me to just keep working on my overall game and keep improving."

Last year you and Tim were very aggressive throwing behind runners keeping them close - how important do you think controlling the other team's running game is?
"We did not have a lot of people steal on us last year, I know that - we threw a lot of guys out. Part of that is that Coach Fox is very aggressive throwing behind the runners. I have probably been more aggressive this summer. I wanted to showcase the tools a little bit - working on picking more guys off up here. It has been working more often than it has not, it helps to control the other team. It also keeps the pitcher comfortable by not having to work so hard at keeping him close at first."

Have you had a chance to talk with Coach Jackson since it was announced that he joined the staff?
"I have not had an opportunity to talk with him personally but we have text messaged back and forth. The coaches were supposed to come up - all the coaches - but they had some plane difficulty with the weather. They were coming up to watch Harwich play the Chatham guys - that would have been five teammates playing in that game."

What has it been like competing against your college teammates on the Cape this summer?
"It has been really fun, me and Patrick [Johnson] were talking about it since he is also on Harwich. I have caught the last two games against Chatham and whenever [Kyle] Seager is hitting we would kid each other, we always messing around - we are really good friends. He has been getting some knocks off of us - I need to figure out a way to get him out..."

How's it been to catch a new pitching staff this summer - what has that transition been like for you?
"It was hard for the first week - getting used to all the guys. I spent the first week catching bullpens and getting used to the guys' stuff. Once you get a relationship with the pitcher on the field they start to trust you a little more. I try to get the pitchers able to trust me and seeing what he likes..."

What has it been like overall spending your summer on the Cape?
"It is a beautiful place - a great place. We have not been able to get out to the beach too much since we have had 25 straight games with the rain-outs..."


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