RC interview with Chris McConnell

It's been a tough summer for Idaho Falls shortstop Chris McConnell, who entered this season as one of the Royals' top infield prospects. However, he remains encouraged with the progress he's making, and he's been swinging the bat better of late. On Thursday, McConnell spoke with RC about his season, what's he working on, and how he's handling his return to the Pioneer League.

Royals Corner: Chris, you've had a pretty up-and-down season. How do you feel it's gone so far?

Chris McConnell: It's definitely been a rough year, but I think I'm learning from it, like it will all come out in the wash. The Royals have told me that they're actually happy that I'm going through a rough time. They said that I'll learn from this, and that the faster I get it over with, the better it will be. You know, they don't want me doing that at Double-A or the big leagues – better to get it out of the way here. I'm definitely learning from it, and my attitude's changing – I don't get as mad if I get out, and I've kind of learned to roll with the punches.

RC: How did you react to the news that you were being sent back down to Idaho Falls?

CM: I was disappointed, but I understood it. I understood why they did it. They said it's possible I could come back up, but I don't think that's the case now – I think it will play out here, and then I'll go to instructs. They said it's not a setback, and I'll probably start in High-A next year. I'm just trying to get comfortable again.

RC: How's your offense progressing?

CM: It's been getting better. There was a big thing with my stance, and it got changed, and then they let me go back, so it's kind of getting back to what I did last year.

McConnell is back to his crouched stance

RC: Could you tell us a little more about that? Are you referring to your switch back and forth between a crouched stance and an upright stance? What was the progression of that?

CM: In instructional league, they wanted me to change it, so I could hit the outside pitch better. I changed, and I never felt real comfortable with it, but I was hitting with it for awhile. In spring training, I was hitting really well, but then by the end of spring training, it started falling apart. Burlington was the same thing, and then they told me that I could go back to my way, so I did. I was having a little bit of success, going up and down, and then I came [to Idaho Falls] and I'm just working on it. It's starting to come back.

RC: What's the biggest thing you're working on now offensively? What needs the most work?

CM: I think I'm hitting to all fields pretty well. Right now, they're talking about my front shoulder. As I'm extended, I'll move my front shoulder in, and a lot of times I'll jam myself. So we're just working on keeping my front shoulder straight, which is easy to do during BP, but I just have to work on it during the games. That's really it, but it's an easy thing to fix.

RC: How about your defense? How's that coming along, and are you feeling pretty comfortable out there at short?

CM: Yeah, I'm feeling comfortable. If I ever got streaky on my defense, it was just because the offense was struggling, and I was just feeling down of myself. But besides that, my defense will always be there, and I'm not worried about it.

McConnell's got a strong arm and good range at short

RC: What are your goals for the rest of the season?

CM: Keep hitting, hitting the ball hard, and go to instructs and do everything well. I'd like to finish strong and start off next year well, and go to High-A.

RC: You're originally from Jersey. What team did you grow up rooting for, and are there any players you particularly admired.

CM: I was always a Philadelphia fan, because I'm close to Philly – I'm not from north Jersey or New York. But I watched the Mets a lot, which is kind of a Phillies' rival. I liked Rey Ordonez. He doesn't play anymore, but he was my man. He was a defensive guy, and that's who I always watched and wanted to be like.

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