EL notes: Clark comes back strong

Trenton first baseman regaining form in return to affiliated ball

Andrew Clark is batting .282 with three homers and 17 RBIs in 36 games. (Kevin Pataky/MiLB.com)

By David Driver / Special to MiLB.com | July 30, 2013 6:00 AM ET

Baseball just wasn't fun anymore for Andrew Clark, so he stopped playing last year after spending time in Spring Training with the Texas Rangers and appearing in just two games with Myrtle Beach of the Class A Advanced Carolina League.

The first baseman headed back to Bowling Green, Ky., where he lives with his wife, and worked some odd jobs such as garbage-collecting, unloading UPS trucks at night and inspecting parts for Nissan.

"I was done and ready to hang it up," he said. "It was the first time I had time off from the game in 18 years."

After several months away, he realized how much he missed playing. He returned to the Rangers this year but was released after one day of Spring Training and joined the Evansville Otters of the Frontier League.

"I worked harder [in independent ball] than I did in my life," said Clark, who was hitting .421 with a slugging percentage of .816 for Evansville when he was signed by the New York Yankees in June.

Clark, who turns 26 next month, is making the most of his second opportunity in organized ball.

In his first 35 games for Trenton, he's hitting .281 with 12 doubles, three homers and 17 RBIs. Clark said the Yankees initially told him he was headed to Class A Advanced Tampa before he was sent to Trenton.

"It's been awesome. I can't tell you how blessed I feel to be back in affiliate ball," said Clark. "It's been a lot of fun and it's been a lot of work. It has all been worth it. To be part of an organization like the Yankees makes it more special."

Clark arrived in Trenton in time to be with the team during Alex Rodriguez's rehab assignment.

"He was awesome. He was one of those guys I always watched as a kid," said Clark, who also got to meet Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson when he made a stop in Trenton.

A 6-foot-2 left-handed slugger, Clark has scuffled against southpaws with an average of .152 while hitting .354 against right-handers.

As an All-Big East player at Louisville, Clark was drafted in the 13th round by Texas in 2010 and drove in 41 runs in 63 games during his pro debut for Spokane.

"I have known him since 10th grade," said Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell. "I am really proud of him. He has always had a professional approach. He lives in the cage. You are dealing with a mature, seasoned adult. This kid has faced a lot of adversity, with major shoulder surgery in high school. He doesn't surprise me where he is at. He was miserable without baseball."

Clark opened 2011 with Class A Hickory and hit .311 with 12 homers and 60 RBIs before heading to Myrtle Beach, where he hit .297 in 20 games.

Glad for a second shot in organized ball, Clark enjoyed his time in the Frontier League.

"When you're playing in those leagues, you don't have to worry about being sent up and down. You can relax and play the game," he said. "You're with a lot of guys who are trying to do the same thing [join an affiliated team]. I had this mind-set that everything is going to work out." 

In brief

Packing in the wins: Akron left-hander Matt Packer became the first Eastern League hurler to reach 10 wins this season when the Aeros downed the visiting Flying Squirrels, 5-1, on July 25. A 32nd-round pick by the Indians out of Virginia in 2009, the 25-year-old improved to 10-5 with a 2.52 ERA in 21 games, including 19 starts. He has won his last eight decisions.

On a roll: Altoona won its fifth straight game Sunday with a 7-3 victory at New Hampshire. Alex Dickerson had two hits and two RBIs one day after recording eight RBIs against the Fisher Cats, who've lost six in a row. Charlie Cutler added two hits Sunday and upped his average to .327 for the Curve.

Another strong arm: The Harrisburg pitching staff has been stellar all year and got another boost when A.J. Cole, Washington's No. 3 prospect, made his Eastern League debut July 25. Cole, who was 6-3 with a 4.25 ERA in 18 starts at Class A Advanced Potomac, allowed one run on three hits over seven innings in a 2-1 win over Portland. Nathan Karns, the Nationals' No. 5 prospect who made three big league starts earlier this season, threw a complete game Sunday for the Senators but was tagged with a loss. Lefty Robbie Ray (No. 7 prospect) is 2-1 with 3.81 ERA in five starts for Harrisburg since being promoted from Potomac.

David Driver is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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