Notes: A's working on situational hitting

Notes: A's working on situational hitting

PHOENIX -- The A's were among the worst teams in the American League with runners in scoring position in 2006, but that's not all they're working to improve at the situational-hitting station at Papago Park.

And the station's existence isn't a direct result of last season's struggles. In fact, the A's have been using such a station for a few years.

"They do a little bit of everything there," manager Bob Geren said Sunday. "Bunting, getting guys over, shooting the ball through holes. There's a lot of different things you can work on."

Geren said new hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo's theory is that when hitters don't succeed with runners in scoring position, it's often because they're trying to do too much.

"If you think about it, the pressure in that situation is more on the pitcher than the hitter," Geren offered, "... so I think Ty wants to stress that and maybe get guys to relax more."

Geren said he doesn't plan to ask his team to bunt very often during the season, but he wants his players to work hard on that part of the game because "when we do bunt, it's going to be important."

Asked if it might be difficult for a player to come through with a good bunt under pressure if he hasn't been asked to do it much, Geren conceded as much.

"That's one of the negatives to it," he said. "That's why you have to identify the guys who are good at it and only do it with those guys."

He also noted that among the players he's seen working at the station, Mike Piazza is one of the better bunters.

"I heard he's tremendous at it ... but I don't think I'll be asking my cleanup hitter to bunt much," Geren cracked.

Strange sight: Japanese righty Kaz Tadano, a non-roster invitee, is best known for throwing the rarely seen eephus pitch. While with Cleveland, Tadano got Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez to ground out on it, and Sunday he broke it out during batting practice.

"It's just like a softball pitch," said outfielder Mark Kotsay. "He threw it twice to our group. ... I swung at it."


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"It jammed me," he admitted with a shrug.

Infielder Mark Ellis, who didn't know Tadano threw an eephus, also got one Sunday.

"I knew it was coming and I was still surprised," Ellis said. "I swung really hard and it hit the top of the cage."

Acquired in a trade with Cleveland in April of last year, Tadano, 26, was with Triple-A Sacramento for most of last season, going 2-2 with a 3.71 ERA and three saves in 31 relief appearances and 0-2 with a 9.69 ERA in three starts. He appeared in 15 games with the Indians in 2004 and made one appearance for them in 2005.

Dribblers ...: Outfielder Shannon Stewart, slowed by foot problems last season, hasn't had any problems running thus far. "We did some great agility stuff today out there, and Shannon did great," Geren said. "I talked to him and he said he feels fine. It's not even an issue." Sunday was Stewart's 33rd birthday. ... Nobody gets overly excited about what guys do during the BP sessions in which coaches are doing the pitching and offering up a steady stream of 70-mph meatballs, but switch-hitting outfielder Milton Bradley has been putting on a show of late. "He's crushing the ball," Geren said. ... There wasn't much crushing going on during righty Dan Haren's time on the mound during batting practice. "Haren had a pile of wood going on out there," Geren said. "He broke a lot of bats." ... Shortstop Bobby Crosby (back) was swinging at close to 100 percent during a soft-toss session in the batting cage, and Geren said it's "possible" that Crosby will start hitting on the field with the rest of the team Monday. ... Outfielder Hiram Bocachica, released by the team two days ago, re-signed Sunday.

Mychael Urban is a national writer for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.