Andersen Updates his Goals

Cubs outfield prospect Cliff Andersen had a few goals he wanted to accomplish in 2007 back in Minor League Spring Training.

A few of those goals were:

Cut back on strikeouts.

Improve footwork in the outfield.

Earn a spot on a full-season roster.

Andersen fell short on the latter task thanks in part to an injury to his back that kept him on the shelf for roughly a month earlier this season.

Through 38 games in the Arizona Rookie League, the 20-year-old outfielder, who was selected in the ninth round of the 2006 draft from Cottonwood (Utah) High School, is batting .278 with 13 RBIs and 15 extra base hits.

He updates the work put into accomplishing his pre-season goals below.

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One of your goals back in Spring Training was to cut down on your strikeouts. Do you feel satisfied with those numbers this season (49 K's in 151 AB's)?

Cliff Andersen: I've been changing my approach lately and (Cubs Minor League Hitting Coordinator) Dave Keller has been working with me on that and helping me a lot. When I get two strikes, I just try to hit a line drive up the middle instead of trying to go deep all the time. I'm starting to protect the line and am seeing the ball and maturing so that I'm not chasing so many pitches out of the zone.

Another one of your goals this season was to get up to full-season ball. Were you surprised to begin another stint in the Arizona League?

Cliff Andersen: Well, I had a pretty decent Spring Training, but there were just some numbers (game). I didn't really care where I was playing at as long as I was playing every day. Also, I got hurt right before the team broke for Boise. I hurt my back.

What can you tell us about the injury and how it came about?

Cliff Andersen: I had it for about two weeks and didn't say anything. It just kept getting worse and worse, so then I was out for about four to five weeks. I strained my lower back; just doing some twisting.

You've been playing most every day with the Mesa team. How does your back feel right now?

Cliff Andersen: It took awhile to get my swing back. My swing feels back to normal now. Everything is fine now.

You also told us that footwork and defense was the biggest thing you needed to improve on. Have you been pleased with your work in the outfield?

Cliff Anderson: My defense has gotten better. I've gotten better reads and that's the biggest thing I've been working on. I work on that probably the most. I've been taking a lot of balls during BP and have just gotten into certain routines. I've been working on it hard and it's helped me a lot.

You've played both of the corner outfield spots. Do you prefer one over the other?

Cliff Andersen: I like right field because the baserunners try to run on you more from third base, so you get more throwing outs whereas in left field, they don't run as much because you're closer to them. There's more throwing involved from right so I like that part of it better.

Going back to offense, you've been hitting around .310 this month. How much of that is due to getting your swing back under you following the injury, and how much has to do with the approach you and Dave Keller have worked on?

Cliff Andersen: Hitting .300 is a really good number, but yeah, my swing has felt really good. I'm just focused every day on that game instead of worrying about my average. I don't try to give away at-bats. I just don't want to give away an-bat and want to have quality at-bats.

What qualifies as a "quality at-bat" to you? A lot of players have different descriptions.

Cliff Andersen: Just swinging with a good approach. You just look for your pitch until two strikes and then don't swing at anything out of the zone. You also have to know the situation; move the baserunner over if he's on first and just make the pitcher work instead of you getting yourself out.

Coming straight out of high school last year, the Cubs' scouts saw some power in your bat and the potential for more. Are you pleased with the development of your power this early into your career?

Cliff Andersen: I don't ever "want" to try and hit a home run, but I know I have power, and I know I have the potential to be one of the better hitters in this organization. So I have power. But I'm just trying to hit line drives and the home runs will come. I'm not worried about it and I know it will come. I've gotten a lot of extra base (1 HR, 8 2B, 6 3B) hits this year.

How has the transition from aluminum to wood bats gone? It sounds like you had sort of a leg up on a lot of other high school hitters in that regard.

Cliff Andersen: Yeah, the only time I really ever swung with metal bats in high school was during the games. In the summers, my dad would never let me swing with aluminum; just wood. So I've been swinging the wooden bat for a while and it's not a big transition.

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