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Thread: For the Jarek Cunningham Fans

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    Default For the Jarek Cunningham Fans

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    Default Re: For the Jarek Cunningham Fans

    FSL notes: Cunningham powers back
    Pirates prospect appears fully recovered from ACL issues

    By Michael Lortz / Special to
    05/25/2011 10:00 AM ET

    Jarek Cunningham is fourth in the FSL with a .585 slugging percentage.
    Jarek Cunningham is fourth in the FSL with a .585 slugging percentage. (Mark LoMoglio/

    As if being a Minor Leaguer wasn't enough of a challenge, Bradenton second baseman Jarek Cunningham has had to work his way back from a serious recurring injury. In 2009, Cunningham completely tore his anterior cruciate ligament -- the same ACL he tore prior to his senior year of high school -- and was forced to miss an entire season.

    Two years later, however, the knee is healed and Cunningham has become one of the best hitters in the Florida State League.

    "I don't feel a thing anymore with my knee," Cunningham said. "I'm braceless and everything is strong."

    Cunningham credits his time spent off the field for giving him the motivation to be better.

    "Missing a season," Cunningham said, "especially after I played one season already in the GCL, it's one of those things where you sit there and watch it every day, and it makes you want to come back that much more and work that much harder to get back to where you know you can be."

    Now completely healthy, Cunningham is currently among the FSL leaders in home runs (nine), triples (five) and slugging percentage (.596) in 40 games. For Cunningham, the power hitting is a result of increased time in the weight room.

    "This offseason was big," Cunningham said. "I worked out this whole offseason in Arizona and did a lot more weights than normal. Usually I do band work and a little weight work, but this offseason I did mostly weights."

    A different approach at the plate has also helped Cunningham put a better charge in the ball.

    "I widened out my base and swing, and that's helped me put the ball in play more," added Cunningham, who's hitting .283 with 27 RBIs.

    Cunningham has also learned from his struggles at the end of his first full season as professional to better prepare for the grind of a full season in the Florida sun.

    "Especially down here with how hot it is," Cunningham said, "you really have to be conscious of how much work you put in beforehand so you can save it for the games. I watch the amount of ground balls, the amount of swings, and what I do in the weight room during the season. It's more maintenance work."

    If Cunningham has his way, the ground balls he takes will all be coming to the same position. Although he moved around the diamond early in his professional career, he now feels most comfortable at second base.

    "I think it would be tough to go to other side of the diamond," Cunningham said. "It would be another transition phase for me."
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