Notes: Swisher takes a new approach

Notes: Swisher takes a new approach

MINNEAPOLIS -- Nick Swisher is on a tear, and he attributes the success to his ability to cut the field in half.

Swisher has been obsessively practicing the art of hitting to the opposite field, and the results are obvious.

In the first two games in Minnesota, he is 4-for-8 with two homers and five RBIs, which has lifted his average to .296 and prompted manager Ken Macha to move him to the No. 2 spot in the lineup.

"Now when I take batting practice, I only hit to left-center or left field," Swisher said. "I'm not trying to do too much and I'm just trying to put the good part of the bat on the ball."

On Wednesday night, Swisher took an outside pitch the other way for his first homer of the night. It was a perfect example of what he's preaching, as he simply dropped the head of the bat on the ball and went with the pitch. In his first at-bat on Thursday he did the same thing, lacing a single to left-center.

"That was a huge sign to me when I hit that," Swisher said. "I felt really confident after that."

"Tonight was nice because I didn't feel like I was swinging hard," he added.

Macha attributes Swisher's success to hard work, extra focus and a good approach at the plate.

"He came out for early batting practice and his concentration is great," Macha said on Wednesday. "He's doing a good job of staying inside the ball. Hopefully he can stay with the approach."

The lineup shuffle: Macha continues to tinker with his lineup, changing it up for the third time in three days in Minnesota. On Thursday, Macha completely changed the top of the order by replacing Mark Ellis and Mark Kotsay with Marco Scutaro and Swisher.

Ellis is hitless in his last 10 at-bats and Kotsay, nursing a sore back, was ready for his first day off.

Despite being 0-for-23 this season, Dan Johnson remained in the lineup but was pushed back to batting ninth. Johnson, a native of Minnesota, will get the chance to break out in front of the hometown crowd. But, he is obviously pressing.

"I don't think Dan is giving himself enough credit for what he can do out there," Swisher said. "But, he's a great hitter."

"Nobody's worried about this team in this locker room and nobody's worried about D.J. starting to hit," he added.

A's extras: Joe Blanton's 11-inning scoreless streak came to an end in the first inning on Thursday. ... For the third straight game, Oakland took an early lead on Thursday only to give it back. ... Coming into this series, the A's pitching staff allowed just eight hits in their previous three games. They have given up 22 hits in the first two games combined. ... Swisher is a career .382 hitter against Minnesota, with four home runs and 12 RBIs in 11 games. ... Marco Scutaro entered Thursday's start in the leadoff spot with a five-game hitting streak and a career .323 average in April.

Coming up: The A's head home to face Texas, following a seven-game road trip that saw them drop a series for the first time this year. Barry Zito will pitch Friday's opener against the Rangers and Kevin Millwood, who is struggling at 0-2. After his uncharacteristic and disastrous Opening Day start (1 1/3 innings, seven runs), Zito was back to his ace form Saturday against the Mariners. He kept the hitters off-balance with a dizzying array of hard and soft, allowing just one hit in his six innings. Zito has had excellent success against Texas, with a 15-2 record and 3.15 ERA.

Lou Bavaro is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.