Appert Back In Top Form; Leading The Ports

One of the worst moments of the Stockton Ports' 2006 season was when Luke Appert broke his ankle in a gruesome collision at first base. Appert was one of the Ports' top hitters before the injury and was one of the team's top veteran influences. After a long off-season of rehabilitation, Appert is back and once again leading the Ports' offensive attack. We caught up with Appert this weekend.

Since being selected in the sixth round of the 2003 draft, Luke Appert has been one of the Oakland A's organization's most patient hitters. Through the 2006 season, Appert had walked 241 times in 355 minor league games played, while striking out only 177 times. The University of Minnesota alum has a career on-base percentage of .383.

In 2006, Appert was in the middle of his best season as a professional when he had a collision at first base and broke his ankle so severely that he was sidelined for the rest of the season. At the time of the injury, Appert was hitting .289 with a 878 OPS for the Stockton Ports.

The rehabilitation process wasn't an easy one for Appert.

"They put a plate in and six screws actually. It's been a long process. I think it has been nine or 10 months now and I still am not really 100 percent. It has been a long battle to get back," Appert said after the Ports' loss to Visalia on Sunday.

"It took me a little while to get back into the swing of things. It bothers me from time-to-time, but mostly I'm feeling pretty good now."

Despite the occasional nagging pain in his ankle, Appert is quietly putting together a monster start to the 2007 season. Back in Stockton, Appert has been on a tear practically from Opening Day.

Through Monday's action, Appert was sitting on a 13-game hitting streak. He was hitting an even .500 with four doubles, two homers and a 1277 OPS. He leads the California League in batting and already has two four-hit games to his credit.

Despite the blistering start, Appert is taking a level-headed approach to his success.

"I'm feeling really good up there. I'm just focusing on putting together decent at-bats each time up there. Luckily I have been finding some holes right now," Appert said.

Appert began his career as a second baseman, but over the last year, he has seen time at third, DH and in the outfield, as well. Some players don't take well to constantly moving positions, but Appert sees it as an opportunity for him to help the team and make himself an everyday player.

"I kind of enjoy moving around. I just like being in the line-up, so wherever they put me, I'm happy to play," Appert said.

"I'm trying to be more versatile so that I can give other guys the opportunity to have a day off. I can't really put my finger on one particular position that I like playing the most. Last year was the first year I started playing in the outfield. Two years ago, I started working on it a little bit. Last year was the first time I really started playing it on a regular basis."

Stockton began the season 2-7, but a seven-game winning streak brought the team back over the .500 mark. The Ports have dropped their last two games, but are back in the thick of the division race thanks to their winning streak.

"It was huge for us to do that. We got off to such a slow start. It was important for us to get things going in the right direction and I think we did a good job doing that," Appert said.

"Overall, I think we are playing pretty good baseball right now and we are just going to have to keep on building on that."


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