DeJesus weathering rare down season

DeJesus weathering rare down season

DeJesus weathering rare down season
OAKLAND -- David DeJesus is never without a smile, even while treading uncharted territory through the worst offensive campaign of his nine-year Major League career.

"You see him every day, and you wouldn't know that he's struggling," manager Bob Melvin said. "He's got such a positive outlook."

While that might make the woes slightly easier to work through, it doesn't make them disappear. In fact, DeJesus called this year "the toughest mentally."

"For sure," he said. "I'd say in my life, really. It's never been like this. It's one of those things you never know how you truly are until you go through something tough. This was a tough year, but I feel, mentally, I've been able to deal with it really well, and now it's just going out there and performing to my known abilities next year."

With just 12 games remaining following Thursday's contest against the Tigers, there's only so much DeJesus can do this year to boost his .232 average, which ranked sixth lowest in the American League entering the day.

Though he realizes time isn't on his side, DeJesus plans on using what's left of it to produce a strong finish, which would bode well for the free agent-to-be. He took a big step toward that end on Thursday, cracking a three-run homer in the first inning off Detroit's Max Scherzer.

"There's a whole bunch of stuff I'm going through right now," DeJesus said. "It's been a process all year long. Right now I feel like I'm working on the right things, and I'm just going to keep holding to them."

There are several theories circulating around DeJesus, who hit below .281 just once in eight seasons with the Royals. Perhaps he's best suited in the No. 2 spot, where he's batting .361 with a .425 on-base percentage in just 10 games this year. But he was pegged as the A's No. 3 hitter at the start of the season, posting a dismal .193 average there.

That slow start, Melvin believes, could still be affecting the veteran, who has since been mainly utilized in the fifth or sixth spot, as Jemile Weeks' midseason presence at the top of the lineup paved the way for a domino effect below him.

"For the most part, when guys have bad years, guys get off to a bad start and it's tough to get going," Melvin said. "And the deeper hole you dig for yourself, the tougher it is to get out of it."

Around DeJesus, fellow pending free agent Josh Willingham has offered Oakland what DeJesus says is "just the type of player they wanted from him." Willingham entered Thursday with a team-leading 26 home runs and 91 RBIs. And Coco Crisp, who will also be a free agent, is tied for second in the AL with 40 stolen bases.

Of the three, DeJesus appears the least likely to return, though A's general manager Billy Beane has made it clear those decisions will wait until the season has concluded.