Shane Peterson having strong showing in Cactus League
Published: Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 9:54 p.m.
SURPRISE, Ariz. — Shane Peterson was one of the few comers in the Oakland Athletics' farm system who didn't get a look on the major league roster last year. But he's getting one this spring, and he's leaving manager Bob Melvin and front-office staff wide-eyed.
Already tied for the Cactus League lead in hits coming into the game, Peterson had two Saturday — a pair of singles — in an otherwise uneventful 4-3 Oakland loss to the Texas Rangers.
Peterson is now 15-for-31 (.484) this spring and has four multihit games, even though he often comes off the bench, as he did in this latest game. One of his two singles against Texas drove in a pair of runs.
“Peterson, I don't even know what to say,” said Melvin. “He only gets two at-bats again and gets two more hits. Man, I can't remember the last time somebody's made this kind of impression every single day.”
It's exactly the kind of impression Peterson hoped he'd make on the major league staff.
“That was my goal coming into spring training,” said the 25-year-old outfielder, who hit .389 with seven homers and a .484 OBP in just over 150 at-bats at Triple-A Sacramento following a promotion. “This is the first time they've seen me play, and I'm just trying to do whatever I can do to show myself.”
I know there are a lot of outfielders with not a lot of spots open.”
Peterson has shown so much, though, the A's may take a more extensive look at him at first base, even though he is a left-handed swinger, as is starter Brandon Moss. So far, he's only seen action at first in one split-squad game, but Melvin said he could get more.
That's fine with Peterson, who said he actually feels more comfortable at first base.
“I've played first base way more than I've played outfield in the past, up through college until I got drafted, and I feel more comfortable there.” said Peterson, who was originally a second-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2008. He was acquired in 2009 Matt Holiday deal that also netted Oakland infielder Brett Wallace and pitcher Clayton Mortenson, both now with other organizations.
So, what has been the secret to Peterson's skyrocketing hitting success ever since he arrived in Sacramento last year? He said a right ankle injury actually turned out to be a turn of fortune for him because it forced him to stay back on his swing and not commit as dramatically to his front side.
“I just made a couple of small adjustments, nothing really big, but they obviously have been working,” he said. “Then I think it's just the confidence factor in how comfortable I feel at the plate.”
— Dan Straily was pleased with his three-inning starting stint — at least the first and third innings of it. In the opening inning, the right-hander broke out his slider extensively for the first time this spring, striking out three fairly impressive hitters — Ian Kinsler, Lance Berkman and Adrian Beltre.
Straily gave up three hits and two runs (one earned) in the second after he stopped throwing the slider, but then pitched a quick 1-2-3 third.
“I felt relaxed and in control,” he said. “I felt like myself out there for the first time in three outings. I brought the slider back out in the first inning, and it was fun to see it was still sharp and working for me.”
“He mixed his pitches well,” Melvin said. “He got in a little trouble, but I thought his stuff was good today.
— Second baseman Jemile Weeks, who can't wait to get back into the competition, said his tender shoulder was feeling significantly better and believes he's ready to return to action Sunday. Melvin gave it a maybe, but added the A's may err on the side of caution.
“Especially here in spring, you get them to the point where it's time to play, maybe it's prudent to give him one more day. I haven't talked to him, but we'll see how he does today, and if we feel like he's close to 100 percent, potentially he will play.”
— Grant Balfour, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on Feb. 15 for a torn meniscus on his right knee, threw a bullpen session with no hitches. While there is no timetable as of yet for the A's closer to pitch in a game, Melvin isn't worried.
“If he continues the pace he's on right now and has no setbacks, he certainly would be ready for the season,” the manager said.
— Addison Russell, the A's 19-year-old shortstop prospect, got a start Saturday at DH and batted ninth. He could have had two hits, but was robbed twice by former Oakland prospect Aaron Cunningham, who made a diving catch of a Russell sinking liner in the third inning and then hauled in a shot to the wall over his shoulder in the seventh.
— The A's made their first roster trims of the spring, reassigning right-handers Bruce Billings and Sonny Gray and left-hander Justin Thomas to their minor league camp.