MadFriars' Interview: Cody Decker

Cody Decker was a twenty-second round draft pick of the Padres in 2009 but last year in April he was on his way to turning a lot of heads.

Cody, 25, hit .298/.337/.714 clubbing ten home runs in twenty games before slumping in early May and then suffering a nasty high ankle break that kept him out of the lineup from May 21 to August 23.

After missing over three months of the season Decker was still able to produce for the team that won the Texas League Championship with a .310 batting average and three home runs.

Coming out of spring in 2012 he was seemingly the odd man out with Nate Freiman and Jedd Gyorko at the infield corners and Jaff Decker and Edison Rincon in the outfield. The only thing left for Cody was going to be the designated hitter against American League affiliated teams and spot starting at first base.

But Cody did what he always did in these types of situations, he hit. His bat forced the organization to expand where they thought he could play defensively and this year he has seen most of his time in the outfield when injuries to the Missions opened up an everyday spot for him.

In May after hitting .343/.438/.761 he was promoted to Tucson and appeared to be on his way with an OPS of .986 in his first nine games. However a nasty slump in June where he hit .176 in twenty games sent him back to San Antonio.

Returning to the Missions in July the average has been a little low at .231 but he's getting on base at a .371 clip and has slugged at a .551 clip with six home runs.

As of Thursday night he is leading the organization in home runs with 24 and is third in RBIs at 64.

How satisfying is it to be healthy after all of the injuries that you suffered last year?

Cody Decker: Everything feels great. It was really tough for me last year because it was the first time that I have ever been injured.

Missing three months with a broken ankle was horrible mainly because there was nothing to do. I couldn't really move and was just stuck. Not a good time.

In 2011 Decker hit 10 home runs in April.

But I'm really glad that I'm back to being healthy and the ankle feels good.

You have some really interesting numbers. You have a good OBP of .380 but over half of your hits are for extra-bases - 36 of 58. Do you take that big a cut?

Cody Decker: I guess you could say that but I'm also someone that tries to not look at stats. I do get a lot of extra-base hits but as with everything there is still a lot of room for improvement.

When I'm at the plate, I'm not really looking to take some huge swing but more of a good swing.

How do you define a "good swing"?

Cody Decker: Its more about control, kind of about at eighty percent. Its much more important to have all the pieces working together in a certain way than trying to take some huge cut - which is one of the ways that you can get into trouble when you try to do too much.

What happened in Tucson? You got off to a good start and then struggled in June?

Cody Decker: It was a rough forty at-bats; really kind of a rough two weeks. I just got cold and that is usually how my career has gone; sometimes everything in site you hit hard and it falls and other times it doesn't happen.

It's not going to define my baseball life and I'm pretty sure when the season ends my numbers will be solid. They gave me a reason why they were sending me down and somethings to work on when I went back to San Antonio.

s there really any difference between AAA and AA? We've been told that AA is much more fastball oriented while in AAA the off-speed and breaking stuff is better.

Cody Decker: I didn't find it that way. I actually saw more speed in AAA than in AA. Pitchers were still trying to get me out the same way and really there was very little difference between the two levels.

The biggest thing I noticed is that in the PCL some of the guys have been around longer and have a better idea of what their game plan is. The big jump is between High-A and AA. The stadiums are tougher to hit in and the pitchers are much more polished than what you have seen before.

You always had the tag "limited to first base" but this year most of your time has been in either right field or left. You have to take some pride in that you have opened some people's eyes to your versatility.

In 2012 Cody is mainly an outfielder.

Cody Decker: I am. I played catcher and first base in high school and college but I did get a few games in the outfield. I kind of approach playing in the outfield like a Little Leaguer, I just want to catch every ball that I can. See it and catch it.

The biggest problem that I'm finding now, especially when compared to first and catcher, is it can be a little more challenging to keep your head in the game. You can start thinking about past at-bats and you just really have to catch yourself so you can go back to focusing on what you need too.

Have you ever played in the outfield before?

Cody Decker: Yes. I played seven games there my sophomore year and one in my junior year. All of them in left field.

What is the biggest part of your game that you are working on now?

Cody Decker: There is always something to work on. You are always trying to evolve. I still strike out too much but I understand that it kind of comes with the territory of being a power hitter. However, I still need to put the ball in play more.

I've drawn a decent number of walks, which has helped to offset the strikeout, but still its something I want to improve upon.

Defensively you can always work on your routes and so many other things before the game.

Have you still told them that you want to squat behind the plate?

Cody Decker: I've made that suggestion plenty of times but honestly with the talent that we have in the organization behind the plate I don't see that happening. In San Antonio we have two great catchers in Jason Hagerty and Ali Solis so I don't think I would put me back there either [laughs].


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