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Burns tearing up Cactus League in bid to make A’s roster

Billy Burns is hitting .441 this spring as the switch-hitter bids to buck the odds and make the A's roster.

Billy Burns is hitting .441 this spring as the switch-hitter bids to buck the odds and make the A’s roster.

One way to beat the odds is to beat up opposing pitchers, and A’s outfielder Billy Burns is doing just that.

He had two more hits and a sacrifice fly Sunday in the A’s 5-2 win over the Brewers in Maryvale Park. That leaves him with a .441 batting average and a team-best 10 runs scored.

The starting outfield is filled with Coco Crisp in left, Josh Reddick, assuming he’s healthy by opening day, in right and Sam Fuld and Craig Gentry splitting time in center field.

Should the A’s need a fifth outfielder, they’d likely go to Mark Canha, who is a Rule 5 player who will have to be offered back to the Marlin if Oakland doesn’t keep him on the 25-man roster all season.

Against that Burns has just been at ease. The switch-hitter lead the club in games played, at-bats, hits (15) and batting average. And Burns, who converted to switch-hitting only after turning pro four years ago, is being noticed.

  “It’s amazing, both right- and left-handed,’’ manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s really made some strides from what we saw last year, even though last year he had a great camp too.

“He’s a little bit more grounded, he’s pulling some balls, he’s driving some balls over outfielder’s heads. He looks a little stronger, too, so he’s been as impressive as anyone in camp.’’

John Hickey

A longtime baseball writer three years into in his second go-round covering to the Oakland A's beat after a dozen years covering the Seattle Mariners. Covered the A's through the late 1980s and 1990s.