MadFriars' Interview: Fernando Perez

LAKE ELSINORE - Second baseman Fernando Perez, 21, has not had the type of season that he or anyone else envisioned coming into the year. In 2014 he had a breakthrough in Low-A Fort Wayne hitting .284/.322/.454 with 43 extra-base hits, 18 of which were home runs which was good enough for fourth overall in the organization.

So it’s been a bit of a shock to see the sweet-swinging left-handed hitter from Chula Vista at just .2331.297/.373 in what has been a very up and down year for him. In April he posted an OPS of .578, in May it was .935 and then it dipped in June and July.

We caught up with him before a recent game in mid-August to find out what went wrong and how he is planning on turning it around next season.

What has been the biggest difference for you between this year and last?

Fernando Perez: It’s been the mental approach. I have been changing my approach at the plate a lot, so it’s been tough to be consistent.

You changed the leg kick that you use.

Fernando Perez: Yes, and then I changed it back. Before I wasn’t doing a leg kick and I wasn’t getting any rhythm going into the swing - the whip with the bat that I need.

I’m trying to get where I was last year. I was the one who changed it but with two strikes I do a little less of a leg kick.

You got off to a bit of a slow start and then you picked it up in May. Did you find that you put a little too much pressure on yourself after the success that you had last year?

Fernando Perez: That was part of it. You go into Spring and everyone is talking about the year that you had and you think that going into the Cal League you are going to put up even better numbers.

I think I wrote something like that.

Fernando Perez: [laughs] Well it goes on in the clubhouse too. Everyone talks about the game and stats and it got into my mind too much. I was trying to put the team on my shoulders, which is not the best approach with the players that we have.

I found myself always trying to win games and trying to be someone I’m not when in reality I just had to be myself.

How were you able to start digging yourself out of the slump in May?

Fernando Perez: I got to the point that I decided that I just had to be me. It’s part of baseball and why we are here; you have to learn.

I have just taken this year as a learning experience. For next year when it comes to the beginning of the season i will know what I need to do and how to take the pressure away. The big part is to just focus on what is in front of you.

You have to feel more comfortable at second base with all of the repetitions you have been getting there as compared to last year where you also played at third and first base.

Fernando Perez: Oh yeah. It’s been a big help just by getting the everyday repetitions.

Defensively what is the biggest part of your game you are looking to improve?

Fernando Perez: My first step. It’s coming along, but it can get better. Also learning more about positioning and I’ve been working a lot with Eddie Rodriguez [the Padres’ roving infield instructor]. So hopefully my range will pick up a little more.

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