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Clark earns ABL Player of the Week honours
Brisbane catcher Cody Clark went 8-for-15 with nine RBI against the Adelaide Bite in Round Four
11/26/2012 6:45 PM ET
Clark went 8-for-15 against Adelaide with nine RBI in four games
Clark went 8-for-15 against Adelaide with nine RBI in four games (Ryan Schembri / SMP Images)
BRISBANE, 26 November - Throughout his career, Cody Clark has always been known more for his ability to handle a pitching staff and for his status as a defensive commodity than for his hitting.

But it is the catcher's bat that led him to his most recent accomplishment on the diamond.

After the completion of Round Four of the Australian Baseball League, brought to you by 'Be the Influence: Tackling Binge Drinking', the Arkansas native was named the Delta Air Lines Player of the Week for his standout performance over four games against the Adelaide Bite.

"Anytime you have a catcher, defence is their priority," Bandits manager Kevin Jordan said. "Any catcher that you can get who swings the bat the way he swung it for us is definitely an asset. He brings so much to the team just with his experience, with his game-calling; I think he has a very calming effect on our pitchers. It's definitely been good for us having him out here."

Clark went 8-for-15 with two home runs, two doubles, two walks, two runs scored and nine runs driven in during the four-game set at the Norwood Oval.

So far this season he leads the Bandits with a .389 average, a .694 slugging percentage, a 1.115 on-base plus slugging percentage, two home runs, 11 RBI, 14 hits and 25 total bases. Each of those totals would be even higher with the inclusion of statistics from the rain-suspended game at home against Canberra in which Clark went 1-for-2 with a two-run home run.

Despite the ease with which Clark appears to be swinging his bat down under, garnering so much attention from it is something that is new for the 31-year-old.

"I've had good years in the past where I've hit .300 and stuff like that, but I've never really been known as an offensive catcher," he said. "I've never been known for my hitting. It's good to be able to help the club out getting some hits and things like that. That's been really nice."

Even with the offensive accolades that Clark is already beginning to pile up this ABL season, his priorities still remain the same as they always have been.

"My No. 1 job is to handle the pitching staff and to get all those guys confident in throwing to the best of their ability," he said. "Everything else comes second after that. Offence and stuff like that is all a distant second."

Clark has so far done a great job with the Brisbane pitching staff, especially in familiarizing himself with a whole new team of pitchers that he had never laid eyes on before. He still believes there is room for improvement and that the team can only become stronger.

"This is really the first team that I've been on where I haven't really known anybody," the backstop said. "It's a growing process and you really have to catch everyone a few times to know what they're comfortable with, what they throw, and how they're used to going about attacking hitters and things like that.

"It's just a process that you need time to get to know each one and I think we're off to a good start. But I think we can definitely get better and I think that we will."

While all members of the Bandits coaching staff speak highly of what Clark can do behind the dish, Jordan has been especially impressed with his hitting. The second-year skipper even offered him the highest endorsement possible after his standout performance against the Bite.

"He's what you call a professional hitter," Jordan said. "Obviously him being a Triple-A guy he has enough experience and he's faced enough pitchers that he takes what the pitcher gives him and he doesn't try to do too much. That's probably the biggest compliment you can give a hitter, is that he is a professional hitter, and Cody's definitely been that for us."

Clark came to Brisbane after spending his most recent season with the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers. The American import spent his last six seasons in the Kansas City Royals organisation and was looking for a place to play winter ball as he entered free agency.

He will certainly continue to garner plenty of attention playing the way that he has been, and he will also have the opportunity just to remain in the game throughout his usual winter months.

"I usually get quite a bit of rest in the off-season," Clark said. "But it's kind of hard getting back into it when I go to spring training and you haven't seen live pitching in a long time. That's part of the reason why I really wanted to play was because I just wanted to stay sharp and get some more at-bats and see some live pitching, so it wouldn't take as long at spring training to get back into the swing of things."

Though Clark might have set out for Australia just to stay on top of his game and better himself, his experience with the rest of the Bandits has been surprisingly unique and incredibly enjoyable so far. And with the success the team has already found, he believes Brisbane could be bound for big things.

"The team is just a really good group of guys," Clark said. "This is one of the closest teams that I've ever been on. Usually you have three or four guys hanging out, and then another three or four guys hanging out, but everybody here really likes each other and really pulls for each other. So that's a really fun atmosphere and an atmosphere that you don't get a lot in professional baseball.

"As far as how far our team can go, we expect to win. We expect to win every time we go out on the field. I haven't seen all the teams yet but we know we're a good team and we just need to keep improving and just keep trying to take each game one game at a time and try to win that game."

This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.