July 21, 2007
By ANDRE WATSON
At 27, Matt Demarco isn't the type of player that worries about how many more chances he'll have to land on a major league roster.
But that doesn't mean there's not a sense of urgency for the Riversharks infielder.
Demarco, a 1998 graduate of Gloucester Catholic High School, is having one of the best seasons in his nine-year professional career, batting .314 with one home run, 24 RBIs and 24 runs scored.
"There is a since of urgency (to try to get back to the major league level)," said Demarco, who has spent time in the farm systems of the Florida Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals.
"But you don't want to think of it like that and put too much pressure on yourself. Because that's when you start pressing. And when you start pressing, you feel like you have to do something every at-bat."
The key to Demarco's success this season has been his calm and focused demeanor at the plate. His .314 batting average is the best he's had since the 2004 season, when he hit .333 with one home run and seven RBIs in 18 games with the Jupiter Hammerheads, a Single-A affiliate of the Marlins.
"I just feel a little more comfortable in the box," Demarco said. "I've been working with (Riversharks player/hitting coach) Brad Strauss and a couple of the other guys. I'm just trying to stay short, nice and easy. I'm trying not to worry about it as much. I'm just going up there and swinging."
Photo by SCOTT ANDERSON/Courier-Post
Riversharks second baseman Matt Demarco follows his throw to first after forcing the Road Warriors' Jason Bryan in the second inning of Thursday's game at Campbell's Field.
Although the Riversharks' play as a team was the key reason the team finished the first half of the season as the best team in the Atlantic League, Riversharks manager Joe Ferguson said Demarco's play has definitely been one of the factors in the team's success.
"Matt made a big contribution to the team the latter part of the first half (of the season) to this ballclub," Ferguson said. "He got some key hits and RBIs to help us win games down the stretch, but everyone on this ballclub has made their contribution. Matt's done a good job. I'm proud of what he's done."
Demarco struggled early on at the plate and in the field.
Demarco, who usually splits time between second and third base, spent a good part of the first half of the season playing shortstop, while the Riversharks battled some injury issues.
"The injuries forced Matt to play out of position and I think that kind of bothered him a little mentally," Ferguson said. "I think it bothered his offense. He was making some errors in the field, but the last three weeks of the first half he did an excellent job."
Demarco said his experience playing shortstop was full of mixed emotions.
"It bothered me a little to play shortstop sometimes, but other times, it didn't bother me," Demarco said. "I hadn't played (shortstop) in a long time and I think coming out there, maybe I was focusing more on that instead of hitting."
Now that he's back playing second base and third base, Demarco said he's more comfortable and focused on helping the Riversharks have a strong second half of the season.
"We have a lot of good hitters on this team," Demarco said. "L.J. (Biernbaum), Randy (McGarvey) and Dwight (Maness) are all having great seasons. I'm just trying to get in there and keep pace with those guys."