Before the season began, Brandon Moss figured that River Cats teammate Wes Timmons, who would play his 1,000th minor league game in April, had to be closing in on 1,000 hits in the minor leagues.
With a little research, Moss found it to be true. Timmons was 68 hits away.
Then Moss, beginning his 11th season of professional baseball, looked up his own total. He was even closer 23 hits shy of 1,000.
Last Thursday, Moss reached the milestone with a broken-bat single against Tucson. Moss kept the ball. The broken bat, too.
"Look, if you asked somebody would they rather have a thousand minor league hits or a thousand major league hits, there's no question it's going to be a thousand major league hits," Moss said after the River Cats' 8-3 win over Colorado Springs on Wednesday at Raley Field.
"But if you're going to ask somebody if they would like to stick around and play the game of baseball long enough to get a thousand minor league hits? Absolutely. I'm very grateful, and blessed."
Timmons, meanwhile, is 59 hits away from the River Cats' 1,000-hit club.
Moss has had some hits in the big leagues 160 while spending parts of the past five seasons with the Red Sox, Pirates and Phillies. During the offseason, the A's signed the outfielder/first baseman to a minor league deal. He hit .500 (11 for 22) in spring training with a home run and seven RBIs.
With no room in their outfield, though, the A's optioned Moss to Triple-A Sacramento, where he has hit .313 with a team-leading six home runs in 21 games. Moss has come to know Triple A well since playing all of the 2009 season with the Pirates.
Moss hit .236 for Pittsburgh in 2009. It was his first full major league season, and he was trying to prove he was healthy following offseason knee surgery. Regardless of the circumstances, he said, "I was not ready for the big leagues."
"Even though I was 25 years old, I had no idea what I was doing," said Moss, now 28. "I had no idea how to hit. I put way too much pressure on myself. All you're going to do when you're trying to prove something, and when you play with that much pressure on yourself, is fail. And I did."
The next spring, Moss was sent to Triple A, where he spent the majority of the next two seasons. It was during that return to the minors, he said, when he adjusted his approach to the game. For one thing, he stopped tinkering with his hitting mechanics and focused on simply driving balls. Since the beginning of 2010, he has hit .274 with 51 home runs in 281 games in Triple A.
He also put more trust in his faith, Moss said, and got back to enjoying what he does.
"So many people get lost trying to play this game to get to the next level, when you can't control that," he said. "All you can control is doing what you can do, and you should enjoy it."
That shows through in Moss' demeanor, said River Cats manager Darren Bush.
"Brandon shows up every day with a purpose, and he has fun playing the game," Bush said. "For somebody who's been around as long as he has, to show up like that every day, that's great for the younger players."
Moss was 0 for 3 with an RBI-groundout against the Sky Sox. Afterward, he tossed some batting practice to his 2-year-old son, Jayden, near the clubhouse.
"He rakes," Moss said. "He's incredible. He might be a ballplayer like his dad, who knows? But he does have a lot of ability. And he loves it, and that's all that matters."