SAN FRANCISCO -- Less shy, more aggressive.
That's the plate approach the A's are trying to preach to the normally patient Daric Barton, and it appears the work with hitting coach Chili Davis is paying off. Barton entered Saturday batting .556 (5-for-9) with two doubles when swinging at the first pitch, compared to a 3-for-38 showing with a count featuring at least two strikes.
"That's what Chili is all about," manager Bob Melvin said. "You go up there aggressive, get ahead in the count, get a pitch to drive, they don't give it to you, you move on. But you don't go up looking for a walk. If the first pitch is there, and it's a first-pitch fastball and you can do something with it, have at it. We want them to be aggressive, everybody."
Barton has five hits in his past 13 at-bats, hitting safely in each of the last four games, after going 1-for-20 over his previous six contests. Perhaps not coincidentally, he's hit his stride just as he's started to gain back his everyday role at first base, due in part to a hamstring injury that forced Kila Ka'aihue to rest for a few days.
"This is probably the most comfortable I've seen him here, both defensively and offensively," Melvin said. "I think we're starting to make some strides with him. He's looking more confident.
"The way he's always been is a guy that works the count, who is a little less apt to swing early in the count. Now I think you're starting to see some first-pitch swings. Teams know what he's doing. If you're continually taking strike one and getting behind, that makes the road a little tougher, as far as the at-bat. If he shows them he can swing early in the count, maybe that makes them pitch him a little bit differently."