Bay Area Baseball

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April 29, 2013
How A's Lowrie helped bust Josh Donaldson's slump; lineups

OAKLAND -- A's third baseman Josh Donaldson said he'd just woken up this morning and flipped on the TV when he heard his name on the MLB Network. The reason -- he had been named A.L. Player of the Week for the term ending Sunday, over which Donaldson batted .545 (12-for 22) with seven doubles, 10 RBIs, seven walks and four runs in seven games.

"Within about 30 seconds they said it on TV and I was like, this is crazy. Really?" said Donaldson. "I knew I put a pretty decent week together, but I wasn't expecting any kind of award or anything. But it happened and I'm appreciative of it."

A pretty understated reaction from Donaldson, about whom manager Bob Melvin later joked that when Melvin was telling people about the award today, the common response was, "That's great," followed by, "Oh no."

"Meaning if you know him, he can be a little bit vocal and spread the word," Melvin said with a grin. "But congratulations to him, well-deserved."

Donaldson had a big two-run double in the A's 9-8 comeback win over the Orioles on Sunday and went 4-for-4 the day before that, tying his career high for hits in a game. He's batting .319 and tied for second in the league with 10 doubles. His batting average jumped by 73 points during the week.

Donaldson started the season in a 3-for-25 slump and today credited shortstop Jed Lowrie with helping him work his way out of that. Donaldson said Lowrie came up to him during the team's series in Houston and gave him a mini-pep talk.

"I was kind of getting a little frustrated with myself, we're going out on defense, and he goes, dude, you're a really good player -- don't let this sidetrack you, stay focused on the task, we need you out here," Donaldson said.

"That kind of brought a little bit of reassurance from a teammate. I felt like that was nice. It was a day or two after that I started rolling in Anaheim, I started getting things going. As a player, for a teammate to come to you, it's nice sometimes for that to happen."

Lowrie said it wasn't difficult to see Donaldson -- who left Houston on April 7 batting .120 -- getting frustrated.

"Josh is an emotional guy," Lowrie said. "You don't have to look hard to see how he's feeling. And it got to a point where I felt like I could say something to him to just kind of make him step back from that frustration and take a deep breath and get back to being a good player.

"He was swinging the bat well at the time and hadn't had any luck and I think that's what was particularly frustrating to him at that point. So I wanted to provide a little perspective that, hey, this is a long season and just keep your head up, keep doing what you're doing, and it'll change."

Donaldson had multiple hits in each of the next five games and is hitting .394 since April 9 while playing impressive -- and at times highlight-reel -- defense. He echoed Lowrie's assessment that he felt his early at-bats weren't bad. "The good thing about baseball is it's a long season, and eventually it's going to pan out," he said.

Donaldson is hitting sixth today against Los Angeles Angels right-hander Tommy Hanson. Here's the full A's lineup:

CF Crisp
DH Smith
SS Lowrie
LF Cespedes
1B Moss
3B Donaldson
C Jaso
RF Reddick
2B Sogard

And the Angels' lineup against Dan Straily, who's making a spot start in place of Brett Anderson:

CF Bourjos
LF Trout
1B Pujols
RF Hamilton
DH Trumbo
2B Kendrick
SS Harris
C Iannetta
3B Jimenez

* Melvin said shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima went 1-for-3 today in an extended spring training game and could begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Sacramento soon. Nakajima will be off tomorrow and play six innings the next day, Melvin said.

"If everything goes well, he's probably close to reporting to Sacramento," Melvin said.

* Right-hander Jarrod Parker threw a bullpen session today ahead of his start tomorrow against the Angels. Melvin said Parker, who is 0-4 with an 8.10 ERA, is "a little more confident" than he was following his last outing, in which he was roughed by the Orioles for six runs in 5 1/3 innings.

"He tries to separate and go into each outing with a positive mindset," Melvin said. "He threw a more aggressive pen the other day, it was more game-like, and I think he came out of that feeling pretty good."

-- Matt Kawahara

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About Bay Area Baseball

Matt KawaharaMatt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee’s sports staff in fall 2011.
Email: mkawahara@sacbee.com.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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