VandenHurk has been pleasant surprise

As a starting pitcher for the Indianapolis Indians, Rick VandenHurk has one of the best overall records on the pitching staff so far this season. VandenHurk won eight straight starts for the Tribe, before suffering a loss on July 8. He is sporting a record of 9-1 with a 3.43 ERA. VandenHurk said that so far, his experience with the Indians has been a good one.

"The city has been great. The team has been great, and we've been playing good baseball; as you know, we're first in the league," he said. "I think as for the pitchers, we feed off of each other. I think all the starters are pitching well and we just go out there and want to compete and do well."

As Dutch professional baseball player, VandenHurk was born and raised in the Netherlands. Prior to graduating from Fort Lauderdale Preparatory School in 2003, VandenHurk was signed by the Florida Marlins as a free agent in 2002. VandenHurk said that his transition from the Netherlands to the United States was an adjustment for him.

"It's [moving into another country] a big transition, you know. It's a different [here in the U.S.]. The country here is really big and everything is different than back home," he said. "I've got all my family back home and it's [the Netherlands] a very small country. So there's definitely some differences.

Right-hander VandenHurk spent a majority of his professional baseball career with the Florida Marlins organization before being traded to the Baltimore Orioles in 2010 in exchange for Will Ohman. After a brief time with Baltimore, the Orioles released him earlier this year in February. After declining his minor league assignment with the Cleveland Indians, VandenHurk signed his minor league contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates in early April. He said that the team has treated him well since he signed.

"I think it's been great, you know. We have a really great team, and we have great guys in the clubhouse," VandenHurk said. "Everybody's relaxed and I think that really shows when we're out there [on the field]. We come ready to play and ready to win ball games."

Like every sport, physical preparation is important, but so is the mental preparation and having the right attitude. VandenHurk said that mental routine before each game is important to him.

"Well, you know, I think it's important to have a routine for that [mentality] as well, just as you do for your physical," he said. "Your mental work is very important to do as well so that you maintain that peace of mind whenever you are out there competing."

The Tribe spent the early part of this past week on break for the All-Star games, and coming back from that, the Indians officially start the second half the season. They still lead the International League and are looking ahead into the playoffs. VandenHurk has high hopes that the team will finish the season strong.

"It's [the routine] the same as what we did before the All-Star break; just continue to play good baseball and continue to win games," he said. "For us starting pitchers, we just want to continue to give the team a chance to win, and obviously we want to go into the playoffs and win the championship."

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