Clark putting a charge into hitting

EUGENE, OR: Matt Clark's finally found what he's been looking for: power numbers.

Matt Clark's three-run homer for Eugene against Yakima on August 6th follows an adjustment period to hitting in his first few weeks as a minor leaguer.

Before the game, the 2008 NCAA home-run champ from Louisiana State University lamented that he hadn't quite hit his stride.

"Facing those couple tough lefties, [I] got a couple of hits off of them, couple of RBI's," Clark said.

Emeralds manager Greg Riddoch agreed that it will take some time.

"He's got big league power. We haven't seen a lot of it yet, but we will."

The Ems have welcomed the first baseman, who was assigned to the Ems July 23rd after a lengthy negotiation process.

"He's a good hitter. He's made some adjustments already to pro baseball. He's a welcome addition to the team," noted hitting coach Erik Peyton. "He's come in real relaxed, real confident."

Coming off of a College World Series Championship with the LSU Tigers has made for a busy summer for the California native.

"It's been pretty eventful," Clark said with a proud smile. Clark topped college baseball with 28 home runs in his senior year.

The intensity of the College World Series experience has helped Clark transition to the pressure of minor league baseball.

"[I] just take it how it is, use the momentum from both to come into here, just keep the confidence that you have to keep it going," he said.

But in the recent road series, Clark's reputation as a power hitter may have preceded him. He got pitched around and was walked several times.

Riddoch has counseled patience for the eager slugger, advising, "You're better off taking a walk and staying consistent than you are trying to get a hit off of bad pitches, and he's done a good job of that.

"He's been pretty selective at the plate and he handles left-handers really well. Most of the time you think a left-handed hitter doesn't handle them that well, but he does."

At 6-foot-5, Clark's size is also a defensive asset at first base.

Clark has been able to snare balls that others might have trouble with.

Noted Riddoch, "Defensively, he's a nice big target. Some of these guys throw real high throws to first base, and you see how tall he is right now. Just wait till he raises that hand in the air he's got pretty good circumference to catch that thing."

For Clark, baseball is a family affair. His father, Terry Clark, is coach of the Frisco Rough Riders, a Double-A affiliate of the Rangers in the Texas League.

Being able to tap that resource has helped Clark's assimilation into professional baseball.

"I've always been around (professional baseball)," said Clark. "It's always been in my veins. It's good to finally be a part of it."

Was his father an influence? I ask.

"You can't even imagine how much," Clark said proudly. "Everything I've ever learned has come from him. To be around him all the time, he's been such an influence on me."

And though his father was a pitcher, not an infielder, Clark uses that to his advantage.

"I always pick his brain for how he would pitch to me," he acknowledged. "Get the pitcher's side of what they would do."

When asked if it was always a family expectation that he'd follow in his father's footsteps, Clark emphasizes, ""For myself, yes. It's been right where I want to be right now."

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