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Big Hurt beginning to swing hot bat

Big Hurt beginning to swing hot bat

OAKLAND -- Frank Thomas has been playing big league ball since 1990, and he has an American League batting title, two AL MVPs and five AL All-Star selections on his Hall of Fame resume.

As such, you pretty much have to take him at his word when he says a hitting binge is imminent, and that's what Thomas, 39, spent part of last weekend doing.

True to his word, Thomas worked off the rust that accumulated during his mostly idle Interleague experience against the Braves and homered twice as part of a 3-for-4 night Monday against the visiting Rays.

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While getting dressed for batting practice Tuesday, however, Thomas said his certainty about breaking out of the second-longest homerless drought of his career waned a bit Monday afternoon.

"I went out for early BP and I was terrible; I said, 'Something's wrong,'" he explained. "I'd been feeling great for the past week or so, like everything was coming together, but I only got one at-bat in Atlanta. So after early BP, I went in and watched a lot of video of some my old home runs, and right away I saw a minor glitch. Right away.

"So I when I went back out for regular BP, I made the adjustment I needed to make, and everything came right back."

Thomas ripped a two-run homer in the first inning and later added a game-tying solo shot for the 33rd multihomer game of his career.

"They come in bunches, always have for me," Thomas said. "But before they come in bunches, you have to get that first one, so I was happy to get it out of the way."

What was the adjustment?

"I can't tell you that," he said with a smile.

Upon signing with the A's in 2006, Thomas, who had missed much of the previous two seasons with injuries, said wasn't expecting himself to get locked in until he'd made 150 plate appearances. Sure enough, he was right in the neighborhood of 150 when he homered twice on May 22 at Chicago to jump-start what ended up being an MVP-caliber season; he finished fourth in the voting.

He spent 2007 with the Blue Jays, who released him in late April, and upon signing for another tour with Oakland, he again said he was expecting to turn it on after about 150 plate appearances.

Going into Monday's breakout game, Thomas had made 154 plate appearances for the year. He was batting .167 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 16 games when Toronto released him, and heading into the second game of a three-game series with the Rays, he was batting .328 over his past 19 games.

"At my age, it takes a while to get going," he said. "But normally, when I find it, I can maintain it. I'm pretty sure I've found it now."

Mychael Urban is national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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