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Lasik surgery puts Smith on 'even playing field'

Lasik surgery puts Smith on 'even playing field'

Lasik surgery puts Smith on 'even playing field'

DETROIT -- For Seth Smith, the process of fixing his hitting woes started with fixing his vision, or at least improving it.

The A's outfielder and designated hitter underwent Lasik surgery for the second time in seven years last week to correct the astigmatism in his left eye, and on Tuesday, he hit his first home run in 39 games.

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Coincidence? Not likely.

"Everything is more defined, so I don't know if I'm picking up spin more, but just the whole picture is clearer, as opposed to it being a little bit off," Smith said Thursday morning. "When you get that out of your head, it allows you to focus on the task at hand, rather than any deficiencies you might have."

Smith by no means expected "some miracle that would make me better than I was," but the procedure has given him back the confidence that's been lacking for a while. Smith hit .267 before the All-Star break, but is batting just .115 since.

"That's the main thing it's done," he said. "I feel like I'm on an even playing field."

"I know he's been struggling here lately and looking for some comfort at the plate, and we've seen really good signs," said teammate Brandon Moss. "Obviously, he's a big bat in our lineup, and we definitely need him. His at-bats lately have been really good. Really good."

Smith began noticing a slight difference in his vision not too long ago, mostly on the field. But then there were times, even off the field, where he noticed he could see much better out of his right eye than his left.

Smith had Lasik surgery on both eyes back in 2006, so he wasn't afraid to undergo the speedy operation again -- this time, it took a total of four seconds, he said -- when realizing the astigmatism had partially returned. He went in during lunch hour on a Tuesday and was driving himself to a checkup appointment the next morning. Two days later, he was back in the A's starting lineup.

"I just knew it was affecting me a little bit, and this game is so hard as it is, that you want to give yourself every advantage that you can," he said. "So it was something where it was worth missing two days to feel like you're going to be better for the long haul."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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