MadFriars' Interview: Cory Spangenberg

LAKE ELSINORE, CA: Cory Spangenberg, 22, was taken in the first round of the 2011 draft by the Padres as compensation for failing to sign pitcher Karsten Whitson, a high school pitcher from Florida in 2010.

After signing with San Diego after the draft Spangenberg put up spectacular numbers at Eugene, .384/.545/.535 and also hit well in Fort Wayne after a slow start.

Last year was supposed to be a banner year for him as he would take his plus speed and ability to put the ball in play to the California League, where many of the infields play like Astro-Turf. Unfortunately, Cory got off to a slow start that was exacerbated after being being beaned during pre-game warm-ups in late June which caused him to miss over a month with concussion like symptoms.

This year Spangenberg has been much improved on his return to the Diamond hitting .288/.354/.459 with sixteen stolen bases in nineteen attempts through the end of May.

The biggest difference in his game offensively, other than making more consistent contact, is his ability to drive the ball which is much improved from last year. Last season Spangenberg hit a total of 21 extra-base hits in 426 plate appearances and this season he has the same number in 225.

Defensively, he looks much more comfortable at second than he has in years past.

It seems like you are driving the ball more this year.

Cory Spangenberg: This off-season I worked hard on getting my strength up and swinging at better pitches. When you get your pitch don't miss it.

Most of your power is to the opposite field. Is that because you are one of those hitters that throws from the right side but bats left-handed?

Cory Spangenberg: I'm not sure but I do know that when I am going good the ball is moving into the left-center gap.

What are you doing to improve you pull-side power or is when you concentrate on that aspect of your game you get into bad habits?

Cory Spangenberg: You definitely get into to many bad habits. I start rolling over too many balls and things like that. But I think it will come to me with more repetitions in batting practice and other aspects of my game. Right now there are just a lot of other things to work on for me.

As someone who grew up in the cold of Pennsylvania you must love having the opportunity to play baseball everyday in the sun.

What is the biggest improvement that you have seen in your game since you turned professional?

Cory Spangenberg: I just have more feel for the game. Back east we didn't get to take that many ground balls and when we did it was on blacktop before the game because it was snowing out. So I think my fielding has improved the most.

Second base always seems like the more skill driven position in the infield because of the angles that you have to take as compared to shortstop. Do you find this to be true too?

Cory Spangenberg: You really have to get comfortable with the position. When you get comfortable you will have a better idea of the routes that you are supposed to take.

As someone who played a lot of third and shortstop as well, how difficult has second base been?

Cory Spangenberg: I think it is a position that has come more natural to me than others. The double-play turn is the hardest but the ground balls on the right side are a little easier because of the throws.

I thought this would be the best league for you because of the hard sun-baked infields of the Cal League.

Have you found this to be true?

Cory Spangenberg: I have found that to be true because so many are so hard. It is just a question of finding the right pitch to do it.

On the opposite side, how is it defensively?

Cory Spangenberg: Most of the infields, outside of our home park, aren't very good. You really have to concentrate on every pitch or they are going to eat you up.

What has been the biggest surprise for you since becoming a pro?

Cory Spangenberg: Mainly just how tough it is to play everyday. Your body might be sore or tired but you have to get out there. You are playing almost six months out of the year so you have to be mentally prepared for it.

How do you maintain your fitness level that all of you put so much work into during the off-season?

Your typical day you have a game and a whole bunch of other drills in addition to trying to stay in shape.

Cory Spangenberg: You have to take care of your body and get your rest. During the season it is all about baseball and you really don't have time for anything else.

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