Mike hits DeMark

A scant four years ago, Mike DeMark was a position player. Moving to the mound full-time, the right-hander had to make his mark in Independent League baseball before signing with the San Diego Padres prior to last season. The strides he has made in a short time have made the Padres notice.

First year here after signing out of the Independent Leagues – you had a good year. Were you happy with it?

Mike DeMark: It was a good season like you said. I had a lot of guys teach me things in Spring Training that helped me out a lot. Staying in extended – Madden got hurt and I got a chance to go up to Lake Elsinore and stuck there, which is good for me. Skipped a few steps and was able to prove myself.

You mentioned learning a few things. What was it that you learned and had you saying, ‘I wish I would have learned that five years ago.'

Mike DeMark: When I first came here I was a thrower. This is going on my fourth year pitching. I was a position player turned pitcher. I was a thrower after Independent ball and they showed me to land soft to allow my body to do more things than just my arm. That was the biggest thing. It helped me locate the ball much better. The amount of strikeouts I had in High-A was unbelievable.

I had good stuff when I first got here but the fact that I was able to spot up on a consistent basis is probably the best thing I learned.

When you look at your own repertoire, do you have your own go-to pitch?

Mike DeMark: My fastball, a two-seam, is my go-to pitch. Its funny because for the first half of the season that is pretty much all I threw. The situation I came in to pitch was we were up or down and I just wanted to get outs and pound the zone. That was my bread-and-butter all year.

That is good when you have two other pitches to fall back on.

As the year goes on, you are being put into tougher situations when the games are much tighter. How does it change?

Mike DeMark: I loved it. I like pressure situations. I like coming in with runners on base or a guy on third – a high, intense situations rather than coming in with a 12-run lead. Coming in when it is close or when it matters. You ar eable to do more things. I like those situations a lot better.

You went out to Instructs – what were you learning out there?

Mike DeMark: The changeup. I never threw a changeup before. I never knew how to hold it.

It is going good. They are happy with it – from what they say. It is a four-seam grip. They way it comes out of my hand – Mitch Canham said it looks like a two-seamer and a lot slower than my fastball. He says it is good and he is a first-rounder – I think he knows what he is talking about.

How do you move forward, take what you learned in 2007 and keep expanding the knowledge and success?

Mike DeMark: Mindset – I am a free agent. Every day could be my last day. I am trying to get better and trying to progress.

Sean McCall – the radio announcer out in Lake Elsinore – and I talked quite frequently about trying to graduate, stay healthy and get to the next level. That is some of the best advice I could have gotten because that is what I am trying to do – move up and stay healthy.

Do you feel like time isn't on your side in this?

Mike DeMark: No, actually, they have said I will be around for a long time and are impressed with what I am doing.

That is my mindset and motivation – to think that I might not be here tomorrow gives me an edge. No one wants to fail but the mindset that I could be gone – and that may not be the case – to think that way makes me better.

You fell one game shy of the Championship. What did you think?

Mike DeMark: The worst thing was sitting there watching someone else celebrate. In college, I went to a small school and we won – to celebrate on the field was the most amazing thing. I have been a part of watching other teams celebrate. It does not get worse than that, especially in pro ball my first year. Having a chance to get a ring, no one can ask for more than that.

To fall one game shy – the first game in San Jose we didn't very much and lost 2-0. (Stephen) Faris pitched a great game and gave us a chance to win. It sucks. Those guys played every single day. Your heart goes out to them. They are awesome. My heart goes out to them. I am not an everyday guy. It probably hurt them more. It hurt me a lot. It plays a toll on you emotionally and physically – one game shy.

How was working with Jose Lobaton last season?

Mike DeMark: It was good. He knows the game and knows a lot of the hitters. Working with him and Steve Webber was great. A lot of people with the language barrier have boundaries to what they can accomplish but he was able to come out and get his point across, keeping me in control and in check when I was out of check. He is a really good catcher.

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