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Smith's hot bat keeping him in lineup

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OAKLAND -- Seth Smith appeared to face a challenge for playing time to start the season, based on the crowded numbers in the A's outfield.

He's helping his case so far by swinging one of the hottest bats on the team.

Smith went 3-for-5 with a run on Wednesday's matinee against Houston, and is hitting .447 with seven RBIs in 12 games. His run-scoring single in the fifth inning Tuesday night gave the A's a lead in a game they eventually won 4-3.

Significantly, the left-handed-hitting Smith is raking against lefty pitching. He was 6-for-9 against southpaws entering Wednesday, and that caught the attention of A's manager Bob Melvin.

"You look at his average against lefties and he's been very productive," Melvin said. "That's where he was going to be limited, was his at-bats against left-handers. But with [left fielder] Yoenis [Cespedes] out, and the fact he's swinging well against lefties, I'm leaving him in there and he's been productive."

The offseason addition of Chris Young, obtained in a trade from Arizona, seemed it might take at-bats away from Smith. The A's entered the season with a starting outfield of Cespedes, center fielder Coco Crisp and right fielder Josh Reddick, leaving Smith and Young to potentially compete for at-bats as the designated hitter and extra outfielder.

With Cespedes on the disabled list with a strained left hand, an opportunity has opened for Smith and he's taking advantage. But he said he didn't come into the season stressing over the numbers game in the outfield. He knows Melvin finds a way to utilize players who are producing.

"I've done it in the past, when you try to do something big and you think if you don't get a big hit, you're not going to get to play the next day," Smith said. "It's different here. There's no reason to press."

Joe Stiglich is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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