The Big Hurt helped the A's clobber the Twins.
Frank Thomas returned to the Oakland A's line-up on Thursday, and so did the A's power game. Although Thomas didn't record a hit, the A's offense managed two homers, a triple and two doubles in the team's 11-2 mauling of the Minnesota Twins. Thomas is glad to be back in Oakland after a little over one year absence.
Frank Thomas, who hit 39 homers for the A's in 2006, is back with the team for the prorated major league minimum, $336,721 -- a bargain for the A's, who wanted to re-sign Thomas two years ago. Toronto paid Thomas $18 million for two seasons, however, but now the A's get the slugger for next to nothing.
"Bottom line, this was a risk worth taking," A's GM Billy Beane told the Associated Press.
"He looks in fantastic shape. Obviously we had a great year from him and he was a great influence on the club. It would be foolish on our part not to consider it."
"I love it here. I didn't want to leave," Thomas told the AP. "I'm here to provide a spark."
Thomas parted ways with Toronto because of a lack of playing time, and the A's already have a right-handed-hitting designated hitter in Mike Sweeney, who has contributed extremely well when not sidelined by knee soreness. Manager Bob Geren said Thursday that Thomas is the team's DH and that Sweeney will get time at first base.
Because rookie Daric Barton is considered the everyday first baseman, that is likely to mean reduced time for Sweeney. Thomas, however, has gotten off to a slow start, batting under .160, and it is possible if he does not turn things around relatively soon that Sweeney might get more at-bats at DH. Sweeney is a better option at first than Thomas, but Barton is clearly the A's best first baseman. Barton is also being considered for some time at third base while Eric Chavez is out.
After missing five games with the knee problem, Sweeney has had five hits in the last three games, one a pinch single Tuesday night. The A's used Sweeney at first on Thursday and Thomas at designated hitter. It was an all-right-handed lineup, unusual for the A's.
Thomas went 0-for-3 but did walk twice and scored a run. Outfielder Rajai Davis made his A's debut Thursday. He started in center, had three hits (including a triple) and made a superb catch. The A's are looking to add a little variety into their line-up with Davis on-board. The outfielder stole 22 bases in 2007 and will give the A's a good late-inning pinch-running option off of the bench. He may also be used as a late-game defensive replacement for Jack Cust in left.
A'S 11, TWINS 2: Frank Thomas' acquisition was the big news at the Coliseum, but it was Donnie Murphy who was the big bat. Murphy banged two homers, had three hits in all and drove in four runs. The infielder is now batting .284 and he has six RBIs in only 10 games played. With Jack Hannahan struggling with the bat and glove, Murphy may see more playing time, even against right-handed pitchers. Thus far, he has mostly faced left-handers, but both of his homers on Thursday were versus right-handed pitchers.
The A's scored six runs in the first as Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano didn't make it out of the inning. Greg Smith, a left-hander picked up in the Dan Haren trade with Arizona, had another solid outing to get the win. Smith went a career-high seven innings, allowing two runs on seven hits. He was touched for a lead-off homer by rookie Carlos Gomez, but otherwise cruised through his fourth start. The A's have won all four of Smith's outings this season.
Oakland A's Organizational Notes:
--Stockton right-hander Fautino De Los Santos, acquired in the Nick Swisher trade, recovered from a poor outing last week to win his second game of the season on Thursday. The right-hander allowed two runs (one earned) in five innings. He walked one and struck-out four. De Los Santos has an inflated ERA (5.87) thanks to his April 18th outing when he allowed seven runs in two innings, but he has struck-out 26 in only 23 innings this season.
-- Sean Doolittle had two more hits for Stockton to raise his average to .325 and Chris Carter had two hits, including a double, to bring his average up to .233. Carter is batting .343 with six homers and 15 RBIs in his last 10 games.
-- The Stockton bullpen combined for four scoreless frames to close out the game for De Los Santos. Derrick Gordon extended his scoreless inning streak to 9.1 innings with two more scoreless frames on Thursday. The left-hander has 17 strike-outs in 11.2 innings. Andrew Carignan struck-out two in his scoreless inning and he has 17 strike-outs in 10 innings this season. He also has allowed only one run. Sam Demel has a five-inning scoreless streak going, as well. He has 12 strike-outs in 10 innings this season.
-- The Sacramento River Cats blasted the Colorado Springs Sky Sox on Thursday by a score of 11-4. Danny Borrell earned his second win since being promoted to Triple-A from Double-A Midland. Danny Putnam hit his third homerun and went 3-5. He is batting .305 with 10 RBIs. Jeff Baisley also had a big game, going 3-5 with his second homer of the season and a double. Baisley is batting .326. Kevin Melillo added a triple, while Gregorio Petit and Wes Bankston both doubled. Petit reached base four times with two walks and two hits out of the lead-off spot.
-- The Midland Rockhounds were routed by Corpus Christi by a score of 19-5 on Thursday. Ryan Webb had his first poor start of the season, allowing eight runs in 2.2 innings. Kristian Bell and Jose Rojas also had rough relief outings, each allowing five runs. Joe Gaetti homered in the first for his first hit as a member of the A's organization. Jesus Guzman raised his average to .444 with three more hits. Anthony Recker broke out of a slump with two hits in four at-bats.
--A's outfielder Travis Buck was placed on the disabled list with shin splints. The condition had caused him to miss the previous four games and the team decided that rest is the best course of action. Buck, who had struggled to get going this year, probably will go on a rehab assignment when he is pain free.
--A's third baseman Eric Chavez was moved onto the 60-day disabled list in order to clear room for DH Frank Thomas on the 40-man roster. Chavez, who is recovering from back surgery, is not expected back before the end of May at the earliest. He has not yet resumed baseball activity.
--A's outfielder Jack Cust could wind up in a platoon with right-handed-hitting OF Emil Brown now that Frank Thomas has joined the club. Cust was not in the lineup Thursday, and Brown has been very productive for the A's. Brown is leading the team in RBIs.