The big pregame A’s news of the day: Daric Barton was activated from the disabled list and is starting at first base tonight against the Royals, batting seventh. To make room for him, Brandon Allen was designated for assignment, which means the A’s have 10 days to trade or release him, or send him to the minors if he clears waivers. There’s a good chance somebody grabs Allen off waivers, considering he’s still relatively young (26) and still holds power potential, so I think we might have seen the last of him in green and gold.
It looks like Barton will grow some roots in the starting lineup. “From this point on, we expect Daric to be the everyday first baseman,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.
Is it surprising to see Barton back in the big league lineup? Yes and no. You can hardly say he forced his way back to the majors. He was sent down last June after struggling mightily with the bat, and he played just a few weeks with Triple-A Sacramento before undergoing season-ending surgery Aug. 12 to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. This spring, Barton saw very limited playing time as he continued rehabbing, and he played in just four games with the River Cats before being called up Monday. He did go 7 for 19, with a grand slam on Sunday, but that’s hardly a big enough body of work to make him the obvious choice to install at first.
But it’s clear, going back for quite some time now, that the A’s brass still sees Barton as an impact player. Melvin was asked how easy of a decision it was to go with Barton at first base. “That was the plan all along,” Melvin said. “Whenever we felt like he was comfortable coming back (after surgery) and playing, he was going to be in the lineup.”
That’s a head-scratcher to me. The A’s are placing a lot of faith in a player who has posted just one truly productive major league season. That came in 2010, when Barton hit .273 with 10 homers, 57 RBI and 33 doubles. He also led the American League with 110 walks and played very good defense. But last season was a step backward offensively, and Barton also committed eight errors in 67 games.
Granted, neither Allen nor Kila Ka’aihue had shown they’re the clear-cut answer at first. But for a team that has lacked power more than anything in recent years, it would have been good to see if either of them could provide an upgrade in that department over an extended period.
A’s: Weeks 2B, Crisp LF, Reddick RF, Cespedes CF, Smith DH, Suzuki C, Barton 1B, Donaldson 3B, Pennington SS; Milone LHP.
Royals: Bourgeois LF, Cain CF, Hosmer 1B, Butler DH, Francoeur RF, Betancourt 3B, Pena C, Escobar SS, Getz 2B; Mendoza RHP.