When the Athletics fired manager Bob Geren earlier this month, many thought it was the organization’s way of saying that there’s still something left to salvage this season. Well, while Oakland is 30-40 on the season, the team has played well under interim manager Bob Melvin.
If there’s one player who is playing better under this new Bob, it’s designated hitter Hideki Matsui. Once Melvin came to Oakland, he made it clear that Matsui will be the team’s everyday DH. Matsui, who is batting just .220 on the year, has responded well to Melvin’s arrival to Oakland.
Since Geren’s firing and Melvin’s arrival, Matsui is batting .304 with three home runs and seven RBIs. Geren liked to shuffle his lineup, and as a result, Matsui was held out of the lineup when the team faced left-handed pitching. Melvin, however, believes that Matsui has no problem with lefties.
In fact, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicles points out in her recent article about Matsui’s hot bat, the Japanese superstar has belted five home runs against left-handed starters this year. Melvin’s decision to place Matsui in the lineup on a more regular basis and in the No.3 spot has definitely paid off thus far.
On the year, Matsui is batting .220/.279/.360 with six home runs and 27 RBIs. He belted home run No.499 on Thursday (a total that includes his Japanese playing days), and is searching for career No.500. Oakland’s new manager is planning on using Matsui at least once per series during the upcoming interleague play. So expect to see Godzilla starting in the outfield for Oakland.
Oakland hasn’t played well this month, or this season for that matter, but the team remains in the division race. Entering Friday, the A’s sit 6.0 games out of first behind the AL West leading Texas Rangers. With the movie “Moneyball” coming out later this year, don’t expect GM Billy Beane to give up on the season just yet.