And on Saturday, that task officially involved a Major League uniform again, as Cust was selected from Triple-A Sacramento to lend a rather lackluster A's lineup some offensive pop.
"I knew in my heart this is where I'm supposed to be," said Cust, who reunited with teammates in Anaheim on Saturday as the club prepared to take on the Angels.
The 31-year-old Cust was designated on April 3 but cleared waivers and immediately began his stint with Sacramento, where he was batting .273 with four homers and 19 RBIs in 33 games for the River Cats. Appearing in 19 games as a designated hitter and 13 in the outfield, Cust also tallied 33 walks and 33 strikeouts in the midst of posting a .444 on-base percentage.
Cust made the three-hour commute each way from his new home in San Francisco to Sacramento on a daily basis. It was a drive that created a constant mental battle, not to mention a strain on his relationship with wife, Jennifer, and their young daughters Ava and Sophia.
"The main thing in all this is my family," he said. "When you get to my age and you've played the game as long as I have, it makes it even harder. You go through your ups and downs, and it's really just been a disaster for all of us trying to deal with it, especially with a new kid.
"My wife's excited. She said it feels like a car has been lifted off her chest. I know she's been struggling just as much as I have with everything."
The A's wasted no time getting Cust in the lineup on Saturday, as he was penciled in batting sixth while playing left field -- a position manager Bob Geren sees Cust spending the majority of his time. Last year, while leading the team in home runs (25) and on-base percentage (.356), Cust played 50 games in right field and 96 as designated hitter -- a spot primarily being occupied by fellow left-handed hitter Eric Chavez these days.
"We feel like he can help us," Geren said. "He's had a nice start down in Triple-A. He's been swinging the bat real well."
To make room for Cust on the 40-man roster, the A's designated Edwar Ramirez for assignment. The right-handed reliever, recalled from Sacramento on May 7 for his second stint with the A's this year, made his only appearance Wednesday in Texas, allowing a run on two hits and two walks in one inning. Overall, Ramirez was 1-0 with a 4.91 ERA in seven relief appearances -- during which he compiled 10 walks in 11 innings.
The transaction, along with the club's decision to option Henry Rodriguez to Triple-A, gave the A's back their typical seven-man bullpen and three-man bench. It's also given Cust reason to smile again.
"It's been a long day," said the veteran slugger, who didn't sleep at all before an early 6 a.m. flight out of Oklahoma City. "I'm just excited to be back and gain that appreciation of being here. I've never taken it for granted.