Quick Hits With John McCurdy, SS

The Stockton Ports began the 2006 season in an offensive slump, but recently they have been scoring runs at a much better clip. One of the Ports best hitters has been John McCurdy. McCurdy has been a pleasant surprise this season, as he had struggled with injuries and productivity over the last two seasons. We caught up with McCurdy recently to get his thoughts on his outstanding season thus far.

John McCurdy was taken in the first round of the 2002 draft. Of that A's draft class, only Nick Swisher was considered to be more talented offensively than McCurdy, who starred at Maryland. McCurdy has struggled as a professional, both to stay healthy and to make consistent contact. This year, however, McCurdy has had good health and is enjoying his best season as a pro.

McCurdy was selected in the first round of the 2002 draft – 26th overall – after a career at Maryland that saw him set all sorts of collegiate offensive records. The Maryland native bashed 19 homers during his final season with his hometown Terps and drove-in 77 runs in only 54 games.

McCurdy began his career in Vancouver, where he struggled a bit at the plate, hitting .242 with three homers in 56 games. He did manage to drive-in 29 runs, however. The next season McCurdy was sent to low-A Kane County, where, until this year, he found his most success as professional. The shortstop hit .274 that year with four homers and 22 stolen bases in 130 games. He also collected 33 doubles.

McCurdy was promoted to AA-Midland in 2004, but managed only a .249 batting average, although he did establish a career-high in homeruns with eight. He was demoted to A-Modesto for the last month of the season and could never get his bat on-track with the A's. McCurdy was kept in High-A the next year, playing for the A's new California League affiliate, the Stockton Ports. Injuries limited McCurdy to only 94 games in 2005.

He repeated at High-A Stockton this season and has finally found the success at the plate that so many expected of him when he was drafted. He recently homered in three straight games and has already surpassed his career-high in homers with 10. He is currently batting .301 for the Ports and has 35 RBI in 236 at-bats. McCurdy has been especially hot in the month of July, with a batting average at roughly .450. His time with Stockton over the past one and a half years has made him a fan favorite at Banner Island Ballpark.

We recently spoke with McCurdy and he gave us a little insight on the success he has had this season, his struggle to stay healthy and more…

OaklandClubhouse: You have been red-hot at the plate over the last four weeks. Is this the best you've hit since you turned pro?

John McCurdy: Yeah, this is probably the best that I have felt at the plate as a professional. I'm not missing my pitches right now as I sometimes do. I have also been pretty healthy this year, which really helps.

OC: Have you made any adjustments at the plate that have accounted for your success?

JM: No, not really. I tweak my stance a little bit here and there, but nothing too much. Mainly its just being healthy, I think. Last year, I was doing alright and then I was diagnosed with degenerative disk disease in my back and had to go on the DL, but this year it hasn't been bothering me at all.

OC: Is there anything special that you've had to do to keep the back healthy this season?

JM: Not really. I've just been working on keeping it strong and doing back exercises in the weight room and stuff like that.

OC: Has your career turned out as you expected it to when you signed your contract?

JM: Actually, I expected it to turn out a lot differently, to tell you the truth. With injuries and everything else, I don't feel like I have played up to my capabilities yet, as strange as that sounds.

In 2003, I had a really good year and they rewarded me by giving me a shot at AA. Unfortunately, I tore my hamstring right before I was going to go to AA, but I didn't really tell anyone because I didn't want to miss the opportunity.

Then I got sent down [to High-A] at the end of that year for the last month of the season. I was hitting something like .330 for the last few weeks before I was sent down, so it was a little surprising. I guess you can say that I was sent down with a little bit of a chip on my shoulder. I learned a lot from that experience.

OC: I've been told that your wife is a constant presence at Ports games. How important is it for you to have her with you?

JM: It's definitely very important. She travels with me on every road-trip and comes to every game. It's really great to have her supporting me all of the time. She recently had major eye surgery, so that has been rough, but it is always great to have her here.

OC: You've become a fan favorite in Stockton. Is it something that you have noticed and play off of?

JM: Definitely, the fan support is great. I have gotten to know a few of the fans really well and it is great to have them out there supporting you all of the time.

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