OAKLAND -- Adam Dunn’s impact on the A’s has been immediate, but he could make a contribution beyond his own numbers.
The slugger’s addition to the lineup theoretically should take pressure off some of the A’s other big hitters who have struggled for much of the second half.
“He presents a threat in the lineup, and it’s something we need,” hitting coach Chili Davis said. “I think he does take a load off some of the guys. We know he strikes out a lot. Who doesn’t these days? But there are guys who strike out a lot that shouldn’t strike out a lot. At least, when he gets ahold of one, there’s a chance for it to go a long way.”
One way to gauge the Dunn Effect -- keep an eye on whether first baseman Brandon Moss can get his season steered back in the right direction. The journeyman-turned-All-Star hit .268 with 21 home runs and 66 RBI in 89 games during the first half. Since then, those numbers have fallen to .180 with two home runs and 11 RBI in 39 games. He went homerless in August -- prior to that, Moss hadn’t hit fewer than three homers in any single month since joining the A’s in June 2012.
Moss’ struggles have been magnified since the July 31 trade of fellow middle-of-the-lineup hitter Yoenis Cespedes, but that’s where Dunn comes into play. Adding another power threat helps cover for Cespedes’ absence, gives opposing pitchers another dangerous hitter to think about, and should help ease the burden on players such as Moss, Derek Norris, Josh Reddick and Stephen Vogt to provide the bulk of the A’s power.
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Asked if he and his offensive teammates are feeling the pressure to produce, Norris said he wished the topic would just disappear.
“When it comes to pressure questions, I think everyone’s aware of what’s going on,” Norris said. “I don’t think anyone is naïve to the fact that we’re not putting up (enough) offense of late. We just need to be better.”
The A’s still lead the majors in runs scored overall, but they ranked just 12th in the American League with 103 runs in August (3.55 per game).
Dunn is 4-for-8 with two homers and four RBI in three games (two starts) since the A’s acquired him Sunday from the White Sox. However, the left-handed hitter is likely to start just one of three games this weekend against Houston. The Astros are scheduled to throw lefties Friday and Sunday, and the A’s plan is to use Dunn primarily as their designated hitter against right-handers.
He’s had just 52 at-bats against lefties this season and has hit .154.
But no matter how often he plays or how much he hits, Dunn will need help.
Moss was among the players taking early batting practice under the watchful eye of Davis before Tuesday’s game against Seattle.
“With all hitters, (the key is) what kind of ball flight do I like to see off my bat?” Davis said. “If I’m a line drive hitter, I like to see line drives off my bat. I don’t like to hit fly balls because they’re outs. But if I’m a guy with some pop (like Moss), I don’t like to see roll-over ground balls because that doesn’t feel good.
“We’re just working on his (swing) path, his approach, the position that he’s in when he’s getting ready to fire. Hopefully we stick with that and take the time with that to allow it to progress back to where it used to be.”