MadFriars' Interview: Aaron Cunningham

TUCSON: OF Aaron Cunningham, 25, was drafted in the sixth round of the 2005 draft by the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox included him in a trade to the Diamondbacks, who then moved him to Oakland in the Dan Haren deal. In 2010 he was traded by Oakland to San Diego with Scott Hairston for Kevin Kouzmanoff and Eric Sogard.

Despite being in four different organizations in six years Cunningham has put up solid numbers throughout his career hitting .303/.377/.487 while playing three different outfield positions.

Last year he saw significant time in San Diego, actually playing better with the Padres than in Portland, hitting .288/.331/.417 in fifty-three games. This year he is back in AAA with the TPadres and is again putting up good numbers hitting .319/.396/.530.

We caught up with Aaron in mid-June to find out how his season has been progressing.

This year you are having a really good year. What is the reason for your success?

Aaron Cunningham: Not really a reason I'm just doing the same things that I have been doing the past few years. I've always tried to work hard the right way and I've been fortunate to get it going this year too.

Hopefully it will pay off and I will get back up to the majors.

It was strange because last year you hit better in the majors and on the road in AAA; everywhere except at home in Portland. What was it with PGE Park?

Aaron Cunningham: I would love to blame it on the park but it was almost completely mental. I let the park get in my head and just never felt comfortable.

I didn't do well at home last year but I think I turned it around this year because my splits are definitely better.

You have a different way of hitting. You get your bat going around your head before you really get prepared to hit. Have you ever found that it gets a little to long for you some times?

Aaron Cunningham: Last year I struggled at the beginning of the year. When I got called up the velocity is better, so you have to be fastball ready. In AAA you don't have to be fastball ready as much is more off-speed. So I had to change a few things when I went up, standing up more and being better prepared to hit better fastballs.

It just kind of carried through when I came back down. I had some success with it so I just carried it through.

Its the same way I swung when I was younger, so it might just be a more comfortable way for me to hit.

I remember you telling us that you were a smaller kid growing up. So did you do that to get more power?

Aaron Cunningham: I'm always trying to get the most out of my body. There are smaller guys in the game that have more power and a big thing is they know how to use their bodies.

It seems kind of complicated. If one little thing gets out of kilter is it tough to get back on track?

Aaron Cunningham: No, not really. Its just a comfortable way for me to hit. Everything isn't always right in your swing but we are still athletes and still need to hit the ball. You want your foot down and your hands back, but you don't have to be perfect to get a base hit.

But somehow we will find a way to get it done.

Last time we spoke you were discussing how you made yourself into a better outfielder. Your best position seems to be right, where you really need to be able to throw. What do you do to maintain your arm strength?

Aaron Cunningham: Mainly just long toss. I didn't have that type of arm when I was growing up. I try to focus on the complete game.

Are you mainly working on long toss during BP?

Aaron Cunningham: Mainly BP. To many people it looks like we are just standing around in the outfield but we are really watching the flight of the ball and how it carries, so we really turn it on then.

Also we do early work before the game. In San Diego you do early work every day. There is always something.

What were your main goals coming into the season this year?

Aaron Cunningham: Just get as much time as I can in the big leagues. Become a part of that team. Next year I'm out of options and I like the organization. I'm trying to make an impression up there and the only way to get back and to stay is to be as consistent as possible.

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