Notes: A's Barton not wide-eyed
20-year-old showing he can hit in first trip to big leagues
CLEVELAND -- Ask A's manager Bob Geren what he likes about first baseman Daric Barton and the answer is simple."Everything." It's easy to see why Geren feels that way about the rookie. Barton's done very little wrong since being called up from Triple-A Sacramento on Sept. 10. He reached base safely in his first 12 games, getting hits in 10 of those games, and had a six-game hitting streak going into Sunday. He's also had five multi-hit games. "I feel comfortable," Barton said. "I don't feel any pressure. When I got called up, I was nervous, but I was ready to get out and see what I can do." "You don't see him take too many ugly swings," Geren said. "He has good balance at the plate." Barton has already passed two the checkpoints Geren's looks for in a young hitter. "You look to see if he has good strike-zone discipline, and he does, and you look to see if he uses the whole field, and he does that too," Geren said. Barton tries to keep it simple. "I go out and try to have a plan and look for something up in the zone," he said. The A's acquired Barton from St. Louis on Dec. 18, 2004 in the deal that sent pitcher Mark Mulder to the Cardinals. Oakland also received pitchers Dan Haren and Kiko Calero in the trade. Barton was the Cardinals' first-round Draft pick in 2003. He has a career .301 average in the Minors and advanced to Sacramento last season while still only 20 years old. Barton batted .293 with nine homers, 38 doubles, 151 hits and 70 RBIs in 136 games this season. He led the River Cats in hits, doubles, walks and runs scored (84). Barton had nine hits in his first five games, tying the Oakland record for most hits by a player in his first five Major League games. He shares the mark with Mitchell Page (1977), Jeff Cox (1980) and Ben Grieve (1997).
"I've always had confidence," Barton said. "I believe in myself. I don't lack too much confidence. That's how you get better."It didn't take Barton long to realize the difference between Major League pitchers and those in the Minors. "They don't try to trick you too much up here," he said. "If you don't hit something, they'll keep throwing it. They don't leave too many pitches over the plate. They can pick a spot where they're going to throw the ball, and they do it." Barton isn't thinking about how his performance will influence the A's thinking on his role for next season. "I'll try to do what I can," he said. "That's on them. I'll do the best I can." The A's face the Indians, Red Sox and Angels in their final six games. The three teams will be battling for playoff seeding and will be throwing their top pitchers, something Barton thinks will help him mature as a hitter. "These guys are not going to let up at all," he said. "They're going to give you their best on every night. They'll be using their best pitchers. You know they're not going to throw fastballs down the middle." Gaudin to start: Right-hander Chad Gaudin will start Tuesday night at Fenway Park. He lasted just four innings in his last start against Seattle, where he gave up eight hits and three earned runs. Piazza in the lineup: Mike Piazza started at designated hitter Sunday against right-hander Jake Westbrook. Piazza had pinch-hit in five of the last six games. Embree hurting: Left-hander Alan Embree is hobbled with a sore left hamstring. Geren said he probably wouldn't be available until Tuesday. On deck: The A's are off Monday and open a three-game series in Boston on Tuesday at 4:05 p.m. PT. Gaudin (11-12, 4.52 ERA) will meet Curt Schilling (8-8, 3.97 ERA).
Steve Herrick is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.