Chalk upping the ante

Brad Chalk got off to a slow start last year due to a back injury and lost time again this year. Now that he is healthy, he hopes to prove he can be the man the Padres saw in their instructional league.

You had the back injury last season coming out of the draft. Did you look at the Padres Instructional League as a chance to show the player you can be?

Brad Chalk: Definitely. It was a rhythm thing. I came out and was pretty much not doing anything for five weeks. It was more of a rhythm thing. When you start playing – it is about consistency and playing everyday helps.

One of the things you have always been blessed with is good speed. You are 12-of-12 this season. Is the plan to be even more aggressive?

Brad Chalk: We have been working on my jumps. Speed is not an issue. It is learning the jumps and the situations when to run. Doug Dascenzo has been a great coach for that with the big league time he has and the type of player he was. I can learn a lot from the coaches we have here.

You have been working with hitting coach Tom Tornicasa this year. What have you guys been working on?

Brad Chalk: We have been working on how I am opening up a little, which is causing me to hit some fly balls to left when I should be driving the ball to the middle. We made some adjustments and it seems to have paid off. I have been hitting balls up the middle and trying to stay closed up a little bit.

What have been the goals with your work and how do you make sure it isn't something you bring with you to the plate and start thinking too much about?

Brad Chalk: It takes a matter of time. You work on something and don't expect it to be perfect when you start doing it but you have to get used to it. One of my main things is staying back on the ball and being selective on the pitches I want to hit.

I talked with Grady (Fuson). Since changing my swing a little bit, some of the pitches I used to be able to hit and I used to look for – I am going to have to stop swinging at. The ball on the inner third – I might have to start taking a different type of swing at that ball.

From being a guy that used to want to run out of the box before I hit it, the changing and staying back makes a big difference.

One of the things the Padres have said to me is you do have power in your body and they would like to see you hit those gaps a little more. Is that part of the equation?

Brad Chalk: Definitely. They want me to get into hitter's counts and if I get the right pitch, why not hit the gaps or put a little muscle into it? I am not going to be a slap hitter my whole career. There is going to come a time in the next year where I am going to have to be a better all-around hitter.

One of the things that former minor league field coordinator Bill Bryk said to me after the year is ‘if I had to pick the next starting centerfielder for the San Diego Padres right now, it would probably be Brad Chalk.' When you hear something like that, how does it make you feel?

Brad Chalk: It makes me feel great. They have confidence in me right now and hopefully the things I am working on can put me in a better position down the road. All I can do is work on things everyday and hope for the best.

You have been known since your Clemson days as a great outfielder. What is there to learn out there?

Brad Chalk: Tom Gamboa – last year in Instructs, I learned so much from him. Different angles, different ways to manage the sun. You can learn something new every single day from that guy. Different first steps, different angles, everything.

What will be a successful end to the 2008 season for you?

Brad Chalk: Go out there and play my best everyday. The numbers will come if I can do that, stay healthy, go out and compete, and keep getting better.

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