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