Cliff Andersen Q&A

From a numbers standpoint, Cliff Andersen's stint in the Arizona Rookie League a season ago looks sub par. But thanks to some adjustments to his swing, the Cubs 2006 ninth-round draft pick was able to close the year on a positive note and head to minor league camp this spring with a shot at making one of the Cubs full-season rosters.

The 19-year-old Andersen, a left-handed batter and 6-foot-2, 190-pound outfielder drafted from Cottonwood High School in Salt Lake City, Utah, went to Mesa and batted .248 in 46 games throughout rookie play. He struck out in over one-third of his at-bats with 59 strikeouts in 157 AB's.

After hitting just .145 through his first 19 games last season, changes to Andersen's swing were called for, and he would go on to finish the final month with a .333 (25-for-75) average in 22 games in August.

* * *

What has been the good and bad about your spring thus far?

I'll start with the good. It's good to see the whole organization on one field with you, so that you can see what you have to compete against to get to the big leagues. It's good that (Cubs Farm Director) Oneri Fleita is here with all of the hitting instructors on one field. It's also good just to be back playing baseball again. The only bad thing is your body is tired and the days get long sometimes, but it's Spring Training and that's what it's for.

Traditionally, Minor League Spring Training is more about team-oriented drills. From an individual standpoint, what have you worked on this spring?

The biggest thing has been fielding because that's what needs to improve the most. Other than that, I'm just getting back into the swing of things and getting my swing back under me.

What's the self-described explanation of your swing?

My approach at the plate is middle-away with the ball. I try to make my swing as short as possible so that it doesn't have as much movement.

What changes did you make to your swing when you were struggling last year?

The biggest change was with my hands. I had my hands on the bat down a little below my shoulders so I raised them above my shoulders.

What positives were you able to take out of last year?

It was a big jump, but I never doubted myself. Every day was a new day and I never really got down on myself; I tried to stay positive. I made those adjustments to my swing. In the first half, I was hitting .174 and in the second half, I was batting above .300. The second half, I started adjusting to the pitching and getting into more situations. I was thinking too much at the plate in the first half about my swing and in the second half, my dad told me to work on that stuff in practice. But when you get into the game, only think about seeing the ball.

Going back to fielding -- what about your defense would you most like to improve on?

Mostly my footwork and tracking the ball from the pitcher's hand all the way to the plate until it makes contact. In high school, I could go out and not really think about it and just perform. In pro ball, everything happens so fast that you have to slow it down. My arm is pretty decent, so mostly it's the footwork.

Tim Wilken, the Cubs Scouting Director, told us last year that he could envision you moving from center to one of the corner spots. Has that move played out any this spring?

Right now, I'm playing both center and right – mostly right. I've felt pretty good there. With center, you're kind of the captain out there and I think you have a little more freedom to dive for plays. So when you play in the corner, you have to feel the center fielder and feel where he's at in order to back him up. Aside from that, there's different spins on the ball, but it's not that big of an adjustment.

Are you overly satisfied with the adjustments you've made all-around?

Yeah, it was hard at first but it's like (Cubs Hitting Coordinator) Dave Keller said: they're not changing you to get results today; they're changing you to get you to the big leagues. You just have to keep working.

Have the Cubs talked to you about what level they see you at this year?

I'll be in either Peoria or extended spring training.

Northsiders Report Top Stories