Mercado aims to finish strong

Angel Mercado earned a spot on the Fort Wayne Wizards to begin the year but saw some struggles in June. He was sent down to the Eugene Emeralds and appears to have found his stroke.

You were a little bit injured at the end of last season. How have you felt this season?

Angel Mercado: I feel pretty good. I have worked really hard this year. I had to do rehab and just kept working, and working, and working, training hard for this season. It was my shoulder that was injured.

You have moved around a little bit this year, seeing time in the outfield and at first base. Talk a little bit about each of those positions.

Angel Mercado: It is pretty good. I enjoy playing to first base. They moved me there to give me more chances to move up. I can play both positions and it doesn't bother me.

Learning the plays, the signs, and where you have to be is the biggest challenge.

You hit six homers last year and have six this season. Are you expecting to hit even more over the second half of the year?

Angel Mercado: Yes. I expect to hit more. I want more than 15 over the full season. It is about concentrating on hitting a good pitch. I am not thinking about hitting the ball over the fence. I am just thinking, ‘hit the ball hard.'

You were moved down from Fort Wayne to Eugene but seem to be seeing the ball well again. Is that true?

Angel Mercado: I can see the ball well right now. It looks big. I am concentrating on getting a good pitch to hit and hitting it hard.

You stand right on top of the plate. Is that something new?

Angel Mercado: I came out to Spring Training one week before everybody started with Tony Muser. I worked hard with him to concentrate on good balance and everything about hitting. I feel good when I am close to the plate.

You have been someone who noted that you are aggressive at the plate. Does that also hurt you?

Angel Mercado: Sometimes it does but sometimes it also helps. There are times when you have to relax and times when you have to be aggressive. It depends on the situation.

You mentioned your defense in the outfield was a concern for you coming into last year. How have you improved?

Angel Mercado: It has gotten a lot better. The Padres have even said they like it very much. I have been working hard on my offense and defense.

You stole a handful of bases last year and have just a couple this year. Was that something you felt you could improve upon, despite hitting in the middle of the order?

Angel Mercado: You know, I think I can steal more than that but sometimes you have to work on the hit-and-run and other plays. Plus, I have not had that many chances to steal.

What will make for a good rest of the year?

Angel Mercado: I don't know what will happen but I know the rest of the year is going to be great. I am working hard, concentrating on what I am doing, and I will make it a great year.

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