Padres Prospect Interview: Drew Cumberland

Bad luck has been on the heels of San Diego Padres prospect Drew Cumberland. Every time he seems to get into a groove, the injury bug bites.

You have had some awful luck over the last two years. How frustrating has it been to get bit by the injury bug with some fluke stuff?

Drew Cumberland: It's pretty frustrating, but that's how I've always played. I play the game hard. But you have to know when to play hard and when not to do stupid things; like diving into home plate head first. But you live and you learn, so I guess I learned the hard way. I know not to do it next time.

You were extremely hot when you went down in Fort Wayne last year. Were there changes to mechanics that led to the success?

Drew Cumberland: Really just slowing it down. I'm kind of a fast twitch guy at the plate. When I see that inside pitch I get so excited I just pull off the ball so I just slowed it down and took a little less off my swing just to stay more through the ball. Now that is the type of player I am, I'm more of the middle guy all the way. Gap to gap, I'm not a power hitter so I've got to keep telling myself that.

How much work do you have to do on becoming a better base stealer?

Drew Cumberland: A lot, I was fortunate to have Doug Dascenzo as my coach and when he was playing the game he was a great base stealer, so I took a lot from him during early work: what to read, knowing that if there's a tall pitcher on the mound, he's going to have a high leg kick first pitch so to get that first strike over, little things like that just to pick up on. Having him there to help me with that helped out a lot.

There are so many little things that go into stealing a base. Things that most people don't know about. Is there anything that you can say "Man, I wish I thought of that years ago?"

Drew Cumberland: Different training I had this offseason with positioning the hands, so that when you go you don't have to redo your hands, because most people have their right arm up by their chest instead of down by their waist so that when you pull across you're already in the running position. Little things like that, but you get there, and you're standing still and you've got anxiety building, you're not ready to take off. You've just got to learn to relax and go off instincts.

You came out to the early hitter's camp. What were you able to accomplish by coming out early?

Drew Cumberland: It's a great thing because we get to see more pitching and we have so many great hitting coaches, and a guy like me, I just like to listen and take in everything that I can and just try to work that into everyday stuff.

Is that just a head start on the season as well?

Drew Cumberland: Oh yeah it was a big head start. We were also taking ground balls and just getting our legs underneath us and stuff like that.

You mentioned listening in and all these great hitting coaches, has there been someone you bonded with. You had Bob Skube your first year and Tom Tornicosta the next year, someone who you clicked with. Whatever they were seeing you were seeing and it felt the same together?

Drew Cumberland: Actually both Skube and Torni - everytime they twitched my swing just a little bit, it's never been anything drastic, just something little I've taken and run with it.

What do you feel that you bring to a club when your bat is in the lineup?

Drew Cumberland: I bring different threats. Third baseman – I can lay down a bunt anytime, speed on the bases, if I hit a single, I count on it myself to turn it into a double with a stolen bag, just knowing that the pitcher always has to worry about me on the base and that might help my hitter out up on the plate.

Some people have questioned if you can stay at shortstop but note that you are athletic enough to play center field. Where do you feel like you best fit in?

Drew Cumberland: I play shortstop. When I hear people say stuff like that, it's actually a confidence boost. I have to go out there and prove them wrong.

What are some of the things that you need to work on at shortstop then?

Drew Cumberland: Slowing the game down, just like hitting. I'm a fast guy so balls that I don't really need to charge, I'll come charging in like a crazy man and that's what (roving instructor Gary) Jones has been working on with me. Slowing it down, knowing your runner, knowing that you have time to break it down, get it, and set your feet and make a good throw.

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