MadFriars' Interview: Tommy Medica

LAKE ELSINORE-- Tommy Medica is a catcher/first baseman that was drafted in the eleventh round of the 2010 draft out of Santa Clara University by the San Diego Padres. In 2010 he was named third team All-American after leading the West Coast Conference in RBIs with 67 and total bases with 152.

Since joining the Padres Medica has been moved from catcher to first base/designated hitter as he tries to comeback from two shoulder surgeries.

When healthy, very few hitters in the minors have the offensive firepower that Medica possesses. He currently ranks in the top five in the Cal League in doubles, 29, batting average, .343, on-base percentage, .413, slugging percentage .605, and OPS at 1.018.

We caught up with Tommy to discuss hitting, staying healthy and moving back to catcher.

It's great to finally see you healthy. Is the shoulder back to 100% yet?

Tommy Medica : Thanks. The shoulder is getting there.

After having two shoulder surgeries it is definitely not the most fun thing to come back from. This time it feels a lot stronger now than it did last time I had the surgery. I will have three days where I feel it is stronger than ever, than one day where it will be sore and I have to backtrack a bit.

It is not bad, just not where I want it to be. The next day, though, it will be back to being fine.

Do you aggravate it at all playing first base?

Tommy Medica: Not really. The surgeries were on my throwing shoulder, so there really haven't been any long throws that I have had to make that would cause my shoulder to hurt.

I haven't really had to test it, which is both a good and bad thing.

On that note, are there any plans for you to go back to catching?

Medica hopes to get back behind the plate next spring.

Tommy Medica: That is the plan. The shoulder feels a lot better now than after the first surgery so provided it continues to improve I will hopefully catch again next spring training.

Right now I can catch the only problem is having to throw.

Whose decision is it right now to not have you catch?

Tommy Medica: Right now it is both the team and myself. I would love to catch, but it is a lot of throws, and I am only about nine months off of surgery.

I was told I wouldn't regain full strength in my shoulder for one or two years, so I feel right where I am now.

Plus the front office will not put me in a situation where I have the chance to get injured again. They want me to stay healthy and be comfortable. It feels good right now, but I will hopefully know when it is ready and then we will see what they want to do.

Do you see yourself catching in the majors?

Tommy Medica: Yeah, I would love to catch and call a game. The only problem is I have to be able to throw a guy out every once in a while or I won't be up for long.

Has the shoulder impacted your hitting at all?

Tommy Medica: No, it hasn't bothered me at all. That was the one thing that helped me after the surgery, knowing that I could still swing a bat. I can swing hard, free and easy, and there is no pain or issue with the shoulder.

You currently rank second in the Cal league in hitting against lefties (.455/.508/.945).

What is it about your approach that allows you to hit so well off of left-handed pitching?

Tommy Medica: The biggest thing as a right-handed batter is knowing that a lefty really has nothing going away from you.

On a whole they also don't throw as hard, which isn't a big deal but it is a little extra.

Right-handed pitchers on the other hand can buzz you with a fastball in then having that slider that goes down and away from you.

While a lefty would have the same pitch moving into you, which is easier to hit. When they do throw a pitch that goes away it is usually softer and easier to recognize and lay off. It is easier to stay with your approach versus a lefty.

Less guessing means more hits.

You are also one of the top ten batters in the league with runners on (.382/.447/.664). What changes when you come to the plate with runners on versus bases empty?

Tommy Medica: With runners on you know that they are rarely going to give you anything to hit the first few pitches so you need to be patient and look for your pitch.

When you see your pitch, even if it is slightly out of the zone, you have to take a swing and try to drive in the runs.

If you can work the count 2-0, 2-1, or 3-1, then you just gear for a pitch, usually the fastball and just try to hit the ball hard. If you hit the ball hard, chances are something good will happen.

But, you got to have good pitch recognition and patience at the plate as pitchers will try to get you to chase "their pitch" unless they fall behind.

Now that you have been in the Cal League for the past year, where is your favorite place to hit?

Tommy Medica: As odd as it is, I hit best at home (.381). The Diamond is known as being the most pitcher friendly and biggest park in the league. I don't know what it is but I love hitting at home.

Most players get caught up in the Lancaster's and High Desert's where you can get jammed on a pitch and still hit it 400 feet.

But those places usually are barren, and as fun as it is to hit a home run it doesn't mean as much when you are hitting it in front of only twenty-five people.

For me its Lake Elsinore all the way!

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