A year ago, Josh Donaldson had trouble staying on the A's big-league roster.
Now you can't get him out of the Oakland lineup.
His performance, including his .324 batting average, is getting noticed. His ability to deliver game-winning RBIs just earned him a mention in the Wall Street Journal. He is fifth in American League All-Star voting at third base, bidding to be the A's first position player selected since 2003.
"You can't give him a day off; he doesn't want one," manager Bob Melvin said. "I keep going to him to ask if he needs a break, and he just says no."
And with the New York Yankees coming to O.co Coliseum for a three-game series starting tonight, there is no chance Donaldson will miss any time. After all, Monday was a day off.
"It doesn't matter," Donaldson said. "It doesn't matter if we're playing the Yankees or the Rangers or anybody else. We'll go out as a team trying to play a complete game. If we do that, we're going to do all right."
Last year, Donaldson went between the River Cats and Oakland three times before sticking. He hit .069 in April, then hit .182 in May and June the second time around.
When the A's brought him back Aug. 14, he was a changed man. He already had been changed once, in spring training, when the A's converted him from a catcher to a third baseman because of Scott Sizemore's torn ACL. Donaldson grew into the position while he tried to address his offensive issues, and by August, he had just about done that.
He hit .290 with eight homers the rest of the way. He also gave a glimpse of the lineup magnet he would become, starting in 47 of the A's final 48 games. In those 47 starts, the A's went 32-15 as they passed Texas to win the A.L. West on the last day of the season. He also started all five games of the A.L. Division Series against Detroit, batting .294.
Now he's a fixture. Donaldson has missed only one game this season and leads the team in batting average and RBIs (42). Small wonder it has become harder to pry him out of the lineup.
"I don't want days off, and I don't need days off," Donaldson said, pointing out that at 27 he shouldn't need much rest. "Bob has come to me a few times now asked about me taking a day off, but I've said I'd rather not."
Donaldson takes pride in his conditioning and lifts weights regularly. He and fitness guru Mike Henriques have a workout schedule that should keep Donaldson's strength up through a 162-game season.
"I can still lift as much as I was in spring training," Donaldson said. "Our strength guy, Mike, has given me a good plan."