Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Jed Morris, C

Jed Morris' first full month back on the field after recovering from acute lymphocytic leukemia was a roaring success. The Stockton Ports' catcher posted a 1040 OPS in April. He followed that up by winning the California League's Player of the Week for the first week of May. We spoke to Morris about his recovery and his good start to the season…

There are a number of great storylines relating to the Stockton Ports this season, from the success of the Ports' young pitching staff to the resurgence of Matt Sulentic to the first-base power tandem of Sean Doolittle and Chris Carter. But there is no more inspiring storyline than that of catcher Jed Morris, who is not only back on the field after a fight with acute lymphocytic leukemia, but he is dominating California League pitching in the process.

Morris was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia in August of 2006. At the time, Morris was in the midst of a hot streak with the Double-A Midland Rockhounds and he was hitting .306 with a 845 OPS in 45 games in his first extended look at Double-A.

Morris spent the next nine months recovering from the illness and working his way back into baseball shape. He rejoined the A's in extended spring training in 2007 with hopes of returning to a full-season affiliate some time that year. Unfortunately, Morris' extended spring season lasted only two games before he injured his hand and missed the rest of the season.

With a full off-season of rehabilitation, Morris arrived in spring training this year healthy and ready to go. He was assigned to High-A Stockton, where the veteran catcher would be tasked with handling one of the most talented pitching staffs in the minor leagues. It was a homecoming of sorts for Morris, a 36th round draft pick in 2002 who spent the 2005 season with Stockton and the 2003 and 2004 seasons in the California League with Modesto.

Thus far this season, Morris has had a huge impact on the Stockton Ports. He has been a veteran presence behind the plate and a run producer at it. Through Wednesday, Morris was batting .333 with seven homers, 32 RBIs and 1100 OPS in 22 games played. He was recently named the California League's Player of the Week for the week of May 5.

We caught-up with Morris over the weekend to find out about his recovery, his fast start and more…

OaklandClubhouse: How do you feel to be back out on the field playing every day?

Jed Morris: It's a good thing, for sure. There is definitely still the grind of normal, everyday wear and tear, the soreness and all of that. But it is good to be confident about something and to be able to go out and do something about it. When you have to sit around and wait to get back into the game, that was frustrating, thinking that you can still do it but not being able to prove it.

OC: Last year you went to extended spring training for a while. Then did you have another injury that kept you out?

JM: Yeah, I broke my hamate bone in my hand. Usually people come back pretty quickly from that injury, but it took me a little bit longer. The rehab in the off-season was probably beneficial because I was able to get stronger all around before the next season.

OC: What was the recovery process from the leukemia like?

JM: It was slow at first. I was kind of doing whatever I could to stay active, walking around the neighborhood and doing lunges and stuff like that. I knew my legs had to come back because that is probably what took the biggest hit. As soon as I started getting my strength back, it all felt pretty good. It all came back pretty quickly, the muscle memory and everything. The beginning was slow, but once I went to Arizona, I think they were a little surprised that I was a little further along than they might have thought.

OC: You've had a good pitching staff to catch in Stockton. Is it fun to catch arms like this?

JM: Oh, yeah. It helps out tremendously. The games go a little quicker and you don't have to catch as long. I have been fortunate that way this season. If we have a long inning, I start to realize how blessed I have been the rest of the game. They have been doing a great job.

OC: I saw a stat that you were hitting about .500 with runners in scoring position this season. Do you have a different mindset at the plate when there are runners in scoring position?

JM: I have always thought that way, that there is a different mindset. This year, though, it has really just been circumstantial. There are always guys on, it seems, this year. I have been lucky.

OC: Do you have any specific goals for this year or are you looking mostly just to get through the year healthy?

JM: That is obviously a big goal, to be healthy and stay strong. But I still have the goal that I have always had, to make it to the big leagues. So we'll see what happens.


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