PHOENIX A's third baseman Josh Donaldson took Oakland infield coach Mike Gallego aside the other day to voice his concerns about the angle he has been taking on slow grounders hit his way.
"He's not afraid to ask questions, and he thought the approach he was taking was making him fall off line as he was throwing," Gallego said. "He wasn't satisfied with his angle and felt he could make a stronger throw."
The answer was for Donaldson to keep his shoulders over the ball more to get better spin and more accuracy on his throws to first base.
And that's how it is these days for Josh Donaldson, the baddest of the Bad News Bears learning on the fly.
When the 2012 season ended in the playoffs, Oakland had an outfielder playing first base, a shortstop playing second base, a catcher playing third base and four rookies in the starting rotation. Walter Matthau's bunch didn't have anything on these guys.
Donaldson was the catcher-turned-third baseman. And as he comes back for a second season at what is still something of a foreign position, the question arises: Was last year a fluke?
The A's don't think so. Manager Bob Melvin has Donaldson penciled in as the starter at third, to be sure, but the A's also traded for Jed Lowrie, a shortstop who could play third if needed. And Scott Sizemore, whose injury last spring led to Donaldson's ascension from behind the plate, is healthy, too, and could be moved from the second base competition to third if Donaldson falters.
Sizemore's ACL injury on Day One last spring sent the A's scrambling for options. They didn't have another true third baseman they wanted on the roster, so they turned to Donaldson, a catcher who had spent perhaps a month playing third base in winter ball in the Dominican.
The move was hardly an immediate success. Donaldson wound up getting sent down a couple of times, but by season's end, he was a threat offensively and defensively as the A's surged to the American League West title.
His goal now is to make sure his travels to the minor leagues need not be repeated.
"I used the time in Triple A to regroup," said Donaldson, who hit .290 in the final month and a half after his final recall, lifting his average from .153 to .241. "I managed to work it out."
Note The A's suffered a bit of a scare in the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday when Chris Young, getting his first start in right field, left the game with a quadriceps cramp.
Young, a center fielder who is being asked to become equally adept in left and right, raced back on a ball hit by Angels second baseman Brendan Harris. Young made an over-the-shoulder catch with a dive, ending the inning, then had to be lifted for a pinch hitter in the second. He won't play today, but he was scheduled to be off anyway, and should be ready Tuesday.
Young was long gone by the time the A's closed out a 7-5 win on a sunny but cold and windy day.