MadFriars' Interview: Cody Decker

PEORIA, AZ: SInce the Padres drafted him in the twenty-second round of the 2009 draft Cody Decker, 26, has always been one of the more interesting interviews in the organization.

One, he loves to talk. Second, it's always intelligent and finally he is just different enough that it is always going to be something interesting.

Decker, who has a myriad of interests in addition to baseball, is as likely to talk about the nuances of adjusting to right field as he is comparing the music in Damn Yankees to his favorite, which he played the lead in high school, The Music Man.

This time, with Cody getting a chance to catch with the Padres for the first time, the conversation took a more conventional tone but he still found time to talk about the Jedi mind melding techniques that his family uses on the media.

First, I want to complement you on your finally tailored uniform. With how snuggly that fits it doesn't look like anyone would mistake you for 240 lbs.

Cody Decker: Why thank you. They gave me a new one this year and I'm pretty excited about it.

You are svelte. No more stupid questions from media people like us now on how much you weight.

Cody Decker: Oh no problem, I'm sure I'll be around 250 lbs. by next season [laughing].

Last year you had a pretty good year when you were healthy. That has to give you some added confidence going into this season.

Cody Decker: Was I unhealthy last year? It was two years ago that I got hurt.

My mistake. I meant the slump you went into for a few weeks in Tucson.

Cody Decker: Yeah, that wasn't any fun. But except for that it was an ok year.

What are your expectations coming into this season?

Cody Decker: I have my personal goals which I don't really share that much but the goal I have this year is the same as every year; get to the big leagues.

And I don't want to just get there, but get there and stay there - which from what I understand is the hardest part.

But first things first, I got to make it.

You have been catching a little this spring.

Cody Decker: Yeah, they are finally letting me do that a little. I caught some in college and in high school I was a catcher.

This is the first year they have been taking me serious on the offer. I think I am doing better than they thought, so that makes me happy. I'm not sure if its going to amount to anything. I think I will just be a third catcher so the manager knows that he has that in his back pocket.

But you have to love that because it gives you more versatility to get to the big leagues.

Cody Decker: Yeah that is what I am going for. Its why I like playing the outfield, first and now catcher. I think it just makes me more valuable to the organization and gives me a better chance.

Everytime we have talked you have always had that point of view, "put me in anywhere."

Last year when talked you were talking about having to really discipline yourself mentally being in the outfield for the first time because you have always been so involved defensively in the game at first and growing up as a catcher.

So moving back behind the plate has to be great with your personality because you love being in the middle of everything.

Cody Decker: I love being in the middle of things and talking to people. I love messing with hitters, talking with umpires - everything. When you are behind the plate you kind of control the game.

Its fun and I really enjoy doing this. I'm a nine year-old when it comes to baseball. As long as you let me hit, you can play me wherever you want.

We read about "handling pitchers" can you explain a little of what that is? I mean are you telling them to lower their arm angles and things like that?

Cody Decker: Sure, I know enough about pitching to approach it like a hitter. What is he throwing well? What is he not throwing well? Is he tipping something? What they are doing right and wrong.

There are some guys you have to treat a little different from others because of their personalities. I'm pretty good at reading people, so I have an idea of what to do.

When I've asked you about hitting its always the same answer. If it's in the general zone where I am looking then its getting a nice hard swing.

Cody Decker: Very true.

Now you are catching more do you find your approach at the plate has changed? Do you find yourself like a lot of catchers when they go into a hitting slump over thinking an at-bat?

Cody Decker: Not really and one big part is that I just haven't caught enough yet to really find out.

The other day I caught four innings and I wasn't even remotely thinking about hitting except when I was in the box because there was so much going on with catching.

For me, hitting is just separate from other things. Its just see ball, hit ball. If I am thinking at all in there, then I am thinking too much.

Last year, your on-base and slugging percentages were good but you wanted to boost your batting average more by making more contact.

So the obvious question is, you are a power hitter, how do you do that without taking away what you do best?

Cody Decker: It's a Catch-22. With two strikes I am as capable of hitting a home run as with no strikes. I want to make an adjustment but not too much of one where I take away too much from my power. I shorten up a little, but I am still giving it a good swing.

I have the same approach of at pretty much every bat; I look to right-center and then react in. I do the same thing with two strikes except I choke up maybe a half inch and move a little closer to the plate.

I don't want to give up any power but then again I understand the difference between hitting .250 and .300 is one hit a week.

Bull Durham.

Cody Decker: Exactly. I hate getting too much into numbers but if you can cut out two strike-outs a week, or add a double or anything it really helps.

How do you keep from looking at numbers or what is written about you?

I understand that it's part of the discipline, but I would have a tough time not looking.

Cody Decker: I've grown to the point where I will look because nothing really surprises me anymore. I always assume that it's going to be negative.

But lately I've been getting good press and I don't know how to handle it.

Hey you sent me a nice note on Facebook when I ranked you in my Top 30.

Cody Decker: Yeah, it was like what was going on?

True, because both David and Ben didn't include you in theirs.

Cody Decker: Exactly, back to reality.

Seriously, it bothers family members much more than it does me.

I've met your family and they have always been great.

Cody Decker: [laughing] Ah, they are just trying to grease your wheels to get you to write something nice.

All of them are very competent at their craft.

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