Chavez Kick-Starting The Season

Chavez is tied for the AL lead in HRs.

It's not unusual for Eric Chavez to carry the A's for stretches each season, but it rarely occurs in April. His numbers in the season's first month (.248 average, 28 home runs, 83 RBIs) are either his worst or second-worst of any month.

Even Eric Chavez has admitted in the past he's curious what numbers he could put up if he stays consistent all year.

This year, he might find out. He hit his fourth and fifth home runs of the season Tuesday night in the A's 7-6 loss to Minnesota.

Chavez said he weighed 205 pounds when the 2004 season began. He reported to camp this year at 230 and is 224 pounds now.

"Physically, I'm as strong as I've ever been," Chavez said. "I wanted to go for power. I don't know if it has a direct result or not. I was prepared mentally to do what I need to do."

Another theory for Chavez's start is the presence of Frank Thomas behind him.

Manager Ken Macha discounted that theory, since Thomas is 2-for-25 to start the year, but he hopes Thomas helps Chavez once he starts hitting.

"(Chavez) has swung the bat good since day one in spring training," Macha said.

"He's having fun. He's at the ballpark early taking batting practice. He's focused. He wants to do it. I want a guy like that on my team."

Even if Thomas isn't hitting, he's still an intimidating threat in the on-deck circle.

"I never said I needed somebody to hit behind me," Chavez said.

"I think (Thomas) is helping. I think Milton (Bradley) is helping. Whether I say there was pressure or not, it does take pressure off me when there's hitters around me that can do damage. I don't know if it's directly the result of it, but it helps." Shortstop Bobby Crosby, who bats in front of Chavez, notices the difference in the pitches he's seeing.

"He's come out raking," Crosby said. "I'm happy. I'm getting good pitches to hit. I'm hitting in front of Babe Ruth. ... I'm up there thinking I'm going to get something to hit because Chavy is behind me. He's probably thinking the same thing with Big Frank behind him."

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