Q&A: Brian Dopirak

You don't have to tell Brian Dopirak that it's been a disappointing year for the first baseman widely considered the organization's top hitting prospect entering 2005.

Though Dopirak is fourth in the Cub farm system in RBIs (68), he is batting .243 one year after hitting .307 with 39 home runs and 120 RBIs at Class Mid-A Lansing. He hit his 15th homer of the year in Wednesday's 11-4 Daytona win over Vero Beach, totaling four RBIs in all.

Inside The Ivy: In your own words, describe your season. What will you take from it once these final few games are played out?

Brian Dopirak: I'm obviously not having the year I would have liked coming off of last season. The good news is I've learned a lot this year. I've actually taken more from this year than I did last year at Lansing. It's been more of a learning experiment with me having to deal with adversity and trying to get myself out of slumps.

Inside The Ivy: What do you think has led to your struggles more than any other factor?

Brian Dopirak: It's all about learning to trust yourself and sticking with one thing instead of trying to do too much. At the start of the year, I think that was the problem. I was pressing a lot, just wanting to do well. I've had to learn the hard way that I can only do so much and that there's only so much I can control.

Inside The Ivy: What has been the biggest difference between this year and last?

Brian Dopirak: I get asked that question quite a bit. (laughs) Again, I really think I got away from my strengths as a hitter and tried to do too much early on.

Inside The Ivy: How concerned are you with the year you've had?

Brian Dopirak: Well, I've never really worried about it; I've just gone out and put a lot of trust in my hitting coach (Mike Micucci). He was with me all of last year at Lansing, too. You have to keep working at it like I am. I kept telling myself that I had to go out and concentrate only on what I was in control of. I've put in some early work at the park this year and I've been through all the drills. I still believe I've gotten done what needed to get done.

Inside The Ivy: When we talked to you earlier this year, you told us you were hard at work on your defense. What are some things you're currently working on, on both sides of the ball?

Brian Dopirak: Yeah, I've put in a lot of time on my footwork around the bag. My defense can always improve. At the plate, I've really started to put a lot of focus on my strike zone discipline. Not trying to beat myself and staying patient is the main thing.

Inside The Ivy: Another question about your defense--you have 14 errors this season, roughly the same amount as last year. How do you feel the defensive side of your game has played out this year?

Brian Dopirak: I definitely feel it's not going backward. I'm still taking it as serious as I was before and I'm still doing the same work as before. My coaches here have worked with me on it, as has Jeff Huson, our roving infield instructor who comes in every so often. He keeps me on the right path.

Inside The Ivy: What do you have planned after the season ends?

Brian Dopirak: Just spending time with the family, you know. Other than that, I'm friends with Roy Silver, who runs a program called the "Winning Inning." I work out with him in the offseason and have been going to him for a long time. He's been through it all. He does one-one-one lessons with a lot of ballplayers. A lot of big leaguers come down (to Florida) in the offseason as well. We have a good time.

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