Lipka's Second-Go-Round

Lipka had a 4-hit game on Thursday

LYNCHBURG, VA - Outfielder Matthew Lipka, one of the top prospects in the Braves' farm system, starts his second year with the Lynchburg Hillcats after suffering from an injury last season. He says his injury is behind him and he's focused on improving his game in his second tour of duty in the Carolina League.

"I had, it is called a distal rupture of the semitendinosus hamstring," Lipka said of his 2012 season. "When I had heard it, I researched a little bit about it.

"They took the tendon and cleaned it up back here and then they pulled it down and reinserted it right here [points to leg]. It was a three-month rehab program for that so it had its time."

Before the injury had occurred, Lipka only played a portion of the season last year.

"I got 50 games in," he continued. "I think I got hurt right after the All-Star break. It took about three weeks after the injury to actually get it diagnosed and everything, and then operated on so it was about a three-month process. Then, I was able to go about my offseason as normal."

After the long strenuous healing process, Lipka came out feeling like a whole new refreshed player, and ready to work on getting back in shape during the offseason.

"It feels a lot cleaner, a lot smoother. Personally, I think I'm moving a lot better," he said. "I feel like nothing is holding me back, I don't have any restrictions; I'm not as stiff as I was last year. I feel probably the best I felt in all my seasons."

Throughout the offseason, Lipka hit his local training center. He worked on building up a few things in particular, but also cut out a lift that was said to be unnecessary for him to continue.

"I worked out at the same place, Michael Johnson's Performance center by my house. [Regarding the injury] The surgeon, Marvin Royster, told me that my legs might have been too strong, too big, which I think could have been a football thing.

"So, he told me to quit squatting because I didn't really need it anymore. I cut squatting, cleaned up my diet a little bit. I gained a little bit of weight just because of being inactive but I didn't have much to lose.

"I kept it simple working on the functional stuff, worked on my flexibility, refined my regime, and mentally gaining back my confidence."

When Lipka found out that he would be coming back to Lynchburg to play for the Hillcats, he was not surprised at all, rather it is exactly what is was expecting.

"I was definitely expecting it," he admitted. "After my injury I sat down and actually talked with Ronnie Richardson and Bruce and they shot me straight, which I really appreciated."

In Spring Training, Lynchburg manager Luis Salazar developed some impressions about Lipka's baseball game and his attitude in the game.

"He's healthy," Salazar pointed out. "Last year was hard. He came into Spring Training ready to go. He has very explosive speed, and he still has a long way to go, but there is a lot of power in this kid."

With that in mind, Lipka has set some goals for himself to accomplish before the end of the 2013 season is up.

"I definitely want to get 30 to 40 stolen bases, the big thing with that is I don't want to miss opportunities to steal bases," Lipka said.

"Hitting I want to refine my approach. I'm a lead off guy, I want to get on base, I want to walk. I really want to use the whole field, shooting the gaps, and doing what I can do."

Hitting coach John Moses has some input on what he would like to see Lipka work on throughout this season.

"Learning to make adjustments, being able to cover the whole plate, learning the game, learning how to steal bases, and getting good jumps," Moses said. "I mean he has got a long way to go, but we are out here every day working hard with him and hopefully he can put everything together and at the end of the year he can be happy with what he did over the course of the season."

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