Notes: Swisher recharging his batteries
Struggling outfielder given Sunday off by A's manager Geren
NEW YORK -- The long hair is gone, but if you let your imagination run wild, can you picture A's outfielder Nick Swisher in a skirt?
That's the figurative getup he was rocking Sunday for the finale of a three-game series at Yankee Stadium.
"I'm gonna be a cheerleader today," he said, appropriately cheerfully, before batting practice.
Swisher, a little banged up and struggling at the plate more than a little, was given the day off by A's manager Bob Geren.
"I'm just going to use it for what it is," Swisher said. "I feel fine -- just the usual baseball-season soreness. But it'll be nice to relax and zone out. I'm gonna make it more of a mental day [off] than anything."
Thanks to a bullet of a two-run double in Saturday's 7-0 victory, Swisher's mental state is a lot better than it was Friday night. After the A's offense was all but shut down in a 2-1 loss in the series opener, Swisher expressed confidence that one solid hit would snap him out of his recent funk.
Even with the double Saturday, a bolt to the base of the center-field wall, Swisher entered Sunday in a 5-for-39 (.139) slump that dates to June 19, and he went 4-for-34 (.118) in the first nine games of the road trip that ended Sunday. But Geren liked what he saw Saturday and felt that giving him Sunday off would let Swisher head into the final week of the first half with some momentum.
"That double, that was loud," Geren said. "I really liked the way it sounded coming off his bat, and that's a good sign."
Sizzling Stew: Geren used his pregame platform to highlight the recent play of outfielder Shannon Stewart, who has been red-hot on the road trip. He homered at least once in each of the three series and batted 18-for-37 (.486) through the first nine games, raising his batting average to a team-high .301.
"Stew's been doing a great job," Geren said. "I was looking at some numbers, and he's got five homers in his past 10 games. He's been unbelievable."
Unfortunately for the A's, they haven't been able to capitalize much on Stewart's success. They opened the trip by getting swept by the Mets and dropped three of four in Cleveland before splitting the first two games of the Yankees series.
"We've only won a couple of games on this trip, but he's put us in a position to win a few more," Geren said.
Dribblers: Mike Piazza hosted a barbeque for coaches and teammates at his palatial Manhattan apartment after Saturday's game, and many came away awed with both the pad and the king-sized feast that Piazza hired a chef to prepare. "It was a beautiful day, too," said Piazza, whose place has a large outdoor patio that overlooks the city. "It seemed like everybody had a good time." ... Geren said righty Kiko Calero (sore shoulder) and righty closer Huston Street (irritated elbow nerve) were scheduled to play "hard" catch at 120 feet before Sunday's game. Righty Justin Duchscherer (arthritic right hip) put his scheduled throwing session off for a second consecutive day, and Geren admitted to some concern. "He's improving, but not as quickly as we'd like. He's still got some soreness," the skipper explained. ... Rookie catcher Kurt Suzuki started at designated hitter Sunday, leaving the A's without a backup backstop on the bench. ... Triple-A Sacramento first baseman Daric Barton's 24-game hitting streak came to an end Saturday in a 3-2 win over Tucson. Righty Michael Madsen, a former 21st-round Draft pick, got the win with 7 2/3 innings of four-hit, shutout work in the Triple-A debut. Catcher Landon Powell hit a solo homer and Kevin Melillo, who was up with the A's last weekend in New York, hit a two-run single.
Up next: A's lefty Lenny DiNardo (3-4, 2.47) takes on Blue Jays righty Josh Towers (3-5, 5.59) on Monday in the opener of a three-game series at McAfee Coliseum. The first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. PT.
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.