OAKLAND – As Coco Crisp continues battling his way through a prolonged batting slump, A’s manager Bob Melvin has dropped the veteran switch-hitter out of the leadoff spot for the short term.
Crisp, 2-for-33 since coming off the disabled list May 6, is batting seventh Saturday night against White Sox lefty John Danks, with center fielder Billy Burns leading off.
Crisp’s double to left-center in the bottom of the ninth Friday is his only hit to leave the infield to this point. Melvin accurately pointed out that Crisp has found his share of bad luck. He lined a ball into left-center in his first at-bat Friday that Adam Eaton ran down. Earlier in the homestand, Boston’s Mike Napoli snared a liner off Crisp’s bat that would have scored two had it gone through.
But there’s no debating that Crisp hasn’t provided the spark the A’s were hoping for when he came off the DL. He batted second Monday against Boston , with Burns leading off, but Saturday marks the lowest Crisp has hit in the A’s order since 2012, when he spent two games in the seventh spot and two in the eighth.
“He’ll get going and we’ll move him back into the leadoff spot because that’s where we need him,” Melvin said. “The other side of that is Billy’s been doing a pretty good job getting on base right now.”
Burns, a speedy switch-hitter who has gotten hitting advice from Crisp since first joining the A’s in 2014, is batting .292 (14-for-48) with a .346 on-base percentage and two stolen bases in 12 games since being recalled from the minors on May 2.
While Crisp continues searching for answers offensively, he appears to be taking to left field well after making the switch from center in spring training. He’s shown good range in tracking down fly balls hit toward the gap and has also made nice plays going back to the wall.
Melvin said second baseman Ben Zobrist is set to run the bases Sunday to test his surgically repaired left knee. If all goes well, he could begin a minor league rehab assignment Tuesday or Wednesday. And Melvin added that the A’s are targeting Zobrist’s potential return for the next homestand. They begin a seven-game road trip Monday in Houston and then play four in Tampa Bay before returning to the Coliseum on May 25.
In other updates, reliever Eric O’Flaherty played catch for the first time Friday to test his left shoulder. He said he came out of it well and that the diagnosis from a doctor’s visit was inflammation in the shoulder. Right-hander A.J. Griffin, briefly shut down with shoulder inflammation himself, also is playing catch. Melvin said there’s no plan yet for when either will get back on the mound.