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After early problems, Courtney Hawkins is starting to stabilize

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With great power came great contact problems in April, but the strikeout rate is on the way down

Courtney Hawkins has found a direction after his injury.
Courtney Hawkins has found a direction after his injury.
Jim Margalus

Anybody who follows the minor league threads knows that Courtney Hawkins redefined "all or nothing" during his first two months of his first full season.

Coming into June, Hawkins was hitting .177/.247/.456 with seven homers over 79 at-bats ... but also 45 strikeouts, which is nuts.

But he injured his shoulder in the field on May 1, and while it cost him a month of action, it might have ultimately helped him calm down. Since returning to the lineup, Hawkins is hitting .261/.306/.717. That enormous isolated power is the result of 10 of his 12 hits going for extra bases (five homers, one triple, four doubles).

Better yet -- while he still hasn't conquered his contact issues, he's harnessed them somewhat. He's struck out 18 times over his 49 post-injury plate appearances. That's still high, but it does count as legitimate improvement, given his 51 percent strikeout rate before the injury.

I talked to Hawkins during the middle of his struggles back in April, and White Sox bloggers got a chance to follow up on a conference call with Hawkins and Josh Phegley on Tuesday. I posted Phegley's portion yesterday, and below is what Hawkins had to say.

On going from high school to High-A

The biggest difference is the competition, man. You go from playing twice a week to playing every single day. The competition level's a huge difference. As far as me enjoying it, I'm loving it, because this is my dream and this is what I always wanted to do. I'm starting to get used to it every day.

On the rough start.

"At the beginning of the season, there was a lot of strikeouts. I was trying to force hits instead of just getting a good pitch for me to hit. [...] Now, I'm starting to get real comfortable in the box. My approach and everything is kind of staying the same; it's just being able to recognize what I can hit and what I can do something with instead of something I can just put in play."

Were the strikeouts difficult to deal with?

"At first, yeah. I had so many people talking to me about it, and telling me it's a long season, and it's going to happen, but I wasn't used to it. But now I'm starting to figure it out a little bit, and ... it's gonna happen."

On the injury break

"We made little changes. Before I got hurt, I was starting to make contact a lot more. It was little changes -- my approach a little bit, how I got ready, how I took stuff and what I was looking for.

"When I was hurt, it was more of a learning experience for me. Just learning the game more. As far as me coming back and doing a lot better after I got hurt, I think that's just me being eager to get back and paying more attention to the game."

On High-A pitching

"When I came up for a stint last year, when I got to Winston, I felt like that pitching there was great. Guys were spotting up, I saw great sinkerball pitchers. Last year, you could tell the difference in pitching.

"This year, I'm looking at it, and, I mean, it's good pitching, but to me, it's not nothing to the extreme, you know?"