Tuesday, August 21, 2012
A's make room for Stephen Drew
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Drew thinks a change of scenery will help jump-start his slumping bat. The Oakland Athletics hope he's right.
Less than 24 hours after being acquired in a trade with Arizona for a minor leaguer, Drew arrived at the Coliseum to find his name scribbled into Tuesday night's lineup.
The A's have no plan of easing their new shortstop into things -- and Drew is eager to get going.
"It's a good start, a good fresh start for me," Drew said after taking batting practice for the first time with his new team. "It's kind of weird, you play for a team for seven years and then everybody heads different directions. I'm happy to be here. Hopefully I can help this team win."
The trade reunites Drew with former D-backs manager Bob Melvin, who coached the 29-year-old infielder for Drew's first four seasons in the majors.
Drew only recently returned after missing 137 games dating to July 20, 2011 when he fractured his right ankle sliding into home against Milwaukee. He played in 40 games with the Diamondbacks this year and was hitting just .193 before the trade.
"Talking to him late last night he really felt like he's starting to swing the bat really well and has kind of run into some tough luck here recently," Melvin said before the A's game against the Minnesota Twins. "He's one of the shortstops around the league that everybody looks at and says this guy can be an impact guy, not only offensively but defensively as well."
The A's hope Drew can deliver more offense than they have gotten out of the shortstop position this season. Cliff Pennington, who has started 92 games there this year, is batting just .198.
Pennington got the night off because of Drew's arrival but is expected to be back in Oakland's lineup Wednesday -- at second base where he'll be platooned with Adam Rosales.
That's because the A's optioned struggling second baseman Jemile Weeks to Triple-A Sacramento. Weeks, who began the season as Oakland's leadoff hitter, batted .303 as a rookie in 2011 but has failed to come close to replicating that this year. He was batting .220 with an on-base percentage of .305.
Oakland, which entered Tuesday one-half game behind Baltimore for the second wild-card spot in American League, decided to send Weeks to the minors to work out the kinks.
"Based on Stephen coming here and what we've seen out of Jemile this year, we felt like this was the right thing to do, for him and the organization," Melvin said. "This will give him the opportunity to go down there and work on some things without the everyday pressure that you get at the big league level."
Drew can empathize.
Since returning from the disabled list, he's been pressing to regain his form at the plate. Drew had just two home runs and 12 RBIs with the D-backs and began his A's career mired in an 0-for-15 slump.
"I've felt good, to be honest," Drew said. "The outcome is not what I wanted, but I was hitting a lot of lineouts the first month when I was up there. That's baseball. It's a humbling game. Hopefully this next month they'll fall."
The A's reinstated Seth Smith from the disabled list and immediately put him in the lineup at DH against Minnesota. Left-handed reliever Jordan Norberto (shoulder) was placed on the 15-day DL.