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Choice thrilled to represent A's at Futures Game

Choice thrilled to represent A's at Futures Game

Choice thrilled to represent A's at Futures Game
KANSAS CITY -- Though still just 22, Michael Choice has already done a lot of growing up.

It's only when he's sitting at breakfast with baseball great Bernie Williams, as he did Sunday morning, or realizing he might cross paths with childhood hero Derek Jeter this week, does the A's prospect feel like a kid again.

But Choice is anything but on most days. In fact, he's been playing double-duty as father to 9-month-old son Blair with fiance Jade-Marie and Minor League outfielder for Double-A Midland. And speaking on Sunday from Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium, where he started the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in left field for the U.S. Team and went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts from the sixth spot, Choice said the balance of both jobs has kept his progressing path to the big leagues in perspective.

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"It's different. It's a lot," Choice said, smiling. "It's a full plate. But I have to have that emotional empathy and make sure I handle things correctly and not shut my family out. Baseball is my job, so when things aren't going well, you naturally want to go to bed and not talk to people, but having to balance both, you have to. You never want to play down or mad or angry, and they kind of bring me down to earth and make me realize it's not the end of the world if I have a bad game and make sure I go out the next day with a good attitude and that same work ethic."

That approach has aided what, from the outside, would appear to be a disappointing season for Choice. After hitting .285 with 30 home runs and a .918 OPS with Class A Stockton last year, the A's 2010 first-round Draft pick out of the University of Texas at Arlington has struggled to post similar numbers at the Double-A level, batting .263 with a .703 OPS and just seven home runs through 80 games with Midland.

Adjusting to the Texas League, he admitted, has been a bigger challenge than expected, but Choice said he's been working on maintaining a consistent swing that led to his monstrous numbers at Stockton in an effort to jump up to Triple-A by season's end.

"I'm still in the process of quieting things down and then training my body to repeat it," the center fielder said. "I know, when everything is sound, it's when I'm not worrying about my mechanics. When I'm going well, I can step in the box and only think about what the pitcher's doing and worrying more about that part of the offensive game, vs. what I'm doing physically. I'm honed in on what pitch I'm looking for, as opposed to worrying about my feet and my hands.

"I felt like I've had a lot more success than the numbers might show, especially considering being in Midland is pretty tough. It's not the easiest conditions to play in. But our coaches tell us from the first day not to change how we play for the conditions. The whole outcome is going to be bad."

Joining Choice at the Futures Game was fellow A's prospect Chih-Fang Pan, a 21-year-old infielder who signed with the A's as a free agent in April 2010. The Taiwan-born Pan, representing the A's on the World Team roster, has compiled a .266 average through 64 games with Class A Burlington.

Triple-A manager Darren Bush, selected to serve on the U.S. Team coaching staff, was on hand to throw Pan batting practice on Sunday and was quick to mention his "impressive bat." So, too, was Choice when asked about the youngster.

"He can hit," Choice said. "He's one of those guys who you can tell has a natural feel for hitting. He's also really good on the field from what I saw. He's young, too, so he's going to have the chance to keep working. He has a really nice swing."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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