One on One with Eric Patterson

Second baseman Eric Patterson returned to the Class-A Peoria Chiefs lineup last Sunday after being sidelined for two weeks with a hamstring ailment. The Cubs' 2004 eighth round draft pick was scorching hot before the injury. "It's a little weird, because usually I start out slow," Patterson tells Inside The Ivy in one of his first interviews since being drafted last year.

Patterson was batting .417 with two home runs and eight RBI at the time he went down in late April. The left-handed hitter had also taken 13 walks and struck out 10 times. He has spent time in both the leadoff spot and No. 2 hole in the batting order this year. With OF Ryan Harvey (back spasms) getting injured at virtually the same time, it was difficult for Patterson to have to sit on the bench.

"It was tough," Patterson admits. "Injuries and stuff like this are a part of the game. You just have to keep a positive attitude."

Patterson remains close with his older brother, Corey, who of course plays center field for the Cubs. The younger of the two knows he will always be compared to his older sibling, but that did not stop him from hoping he was drafted by the Cubs.

"Going into the draft, I really didn't have a preference," Patterson said of which team he wanted to play for. "Ideally, it would have been nice, and obviously it worked out that way. The draft is such a crapshoot that you really don't know what is going to happen. My focus last year was to go out, play hard, do the best I could, and let whatever happens draft-wise, happen."

Even though the two brothers play professional baseball for the same organization, there is clearly a difference in their backgrounds and styles. Eric attended baseball powerhouse Georgia Tech for three years and was able to grasp the college experience; Corey was drafted straight out of high school.

"For me, going to college was really a no-brainer," Patterson said. "I was not ready to go right out of high school and play pro ball. Going to college really helped me out. I improved tremendously in my three years at Georgia Tech."

Speed is certainly hereditary in the Patterson family, but other than that common trait, the two brothers are relatively different ballplayers.

"Corey is more of an RBI guy," Patterson said. "I am more like the type who just goes out and tries to get on base anyway I can. I'm definitely going to run, try to steal bases, and get in scoring position for my teammates to drive me in. There are a lot of similarities, but we also differ in a lot of ways. I think power is the biggest difference between us."

The younger Patterson is doing all he can to quickly showcase his own identity. Before the hamstring problems, the 22-year-old impressed the entire Midwest League with his skills. The next step is showing he can rebound from his first minor league ailment.

One thing is for sure: Patterson will not get complacent with his early success.

"It's a dream come true to get an opportunity to go out here and one day possibly play in the major leagues," Patterson said. "I am definitely taking it all in and having a good time with the guys. It has been a great experience."

Despite his team's slow start, the Chiefs are not down on their luck. The team regained some much-needed arsenal when starting center fielder Sam Fuld returned to the lineup last Saturday, and now Patterson and Harvey have returned as well.

Despite their eight-game drought in the standings, Patterson feels the Chiefs will come around and make a run.

"We have been struggling lately," Patterson admits. "We have just been bitten by the injury bug a little bit, and we've run into some hard luck in certain situations. It's still early. We have plenty of time to turn things around, and we have a good ballclub with good players. The pitchers are definitely doing their job and we as hitters are working hard.

"It's a long season and we have a long way to go."

Scott Sabin is the Contributing Editor of Inside The Ivy. Write to Scott at scott@insidetheivy.com.


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