Brown happy to be back by the Bay
Veteran outfielder jumped at chance to return to Oakland
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Emil Brown has come full circle and back to the Athletics 15 years later.Brown, then 19, was the A's sixth-round pick in the 1994 First-Year Player Draft out of Indian River (Fla.) Junior College, and he played three years in their Minor League system before being selected in the 1996 Rule 5 Draft by the Pirates. That began a long and winding odyssey for Brown. Since he left the A's organization, he has played with three Major League clubs -- the Royals, Padres and Giants. He has also spent time in the Rays, Cardinals, Astros and Reds organizations. He has been released, traded and played 28 games in 2004 for Campeche in the Mexican League. Brown, 33, signed with the A's in January as a free agent. "This is my first team," Brown said. "These guys drafted me. When all things are said and done, I'm back here. I feel like it is a fresh start for me." Brown, a right-handed-hitting outfielder, led the Royals in RBIs the past three seasons, but he was job hunting in December after he was non-tendered. "I'm not going to say it surprised me," Brown said. "It was more of a shock, you could say, because I persevered through a tough situation there. I showed up every day ready to go. I was still productive with what opportunity they did give me. "I was kind of disappointed because I had been productive there. I hadn't been the weak link, by any means. I thought I had done something wrong. But a friend said, 'Don't think like that. You weren't the problem. Maybe they need to fix things around you. You put production around people who are being productive.' We weren't the best team, and I thought I was being productive with the opportunities I was given. They have to make the decisions." The decision to not offer Brown a 2008 contract was a business one. Brown made $3.45 million in 2007, and he was arbitration eligible again. The A's signed Brown to a $1.45 million one-year contract. "I heard from Oakland within two days," Brown said after the Royals non-tendered him. "I didn't waste any time with where I wanted to go. I definitely wanted to go to Oakland. I didn't entertain other offers. Oakland came along with what seemed like the right thing for me."
What was frustrating for Brown, after having 86 RBIs in 2005 and 81 in '06, was his playing time was cut to 366 at-bats and 113 games in 2007."I wasn't happy with it, but I tried not to let it affect me," Brown said. "I was put in some tough spots. I was happy the way it ended last year, as far considering how much I didn't play and how sporadically I was used. I just was disappointed." Brown, who is hitting .316 in 11 Spring Training games, could be the A's starting left fielder or divide time there with Jack Cust. Brown also can play right field, and the A's have even used him in center. "I never really got that feeling, just relax and just play," Brown said of his time with Kansas City. "That kind of bothered me a little bit." In the A's only Spring Training meeting with the Royals, Brown went 1-for-3 with a double on Monday. "I don't know if I would ever be able to show enough for them to realize, 'Hey, we lost a good player,'" Brown said. Brown is happy with new team, his new home. "You can say that," Brown said. "I'm playing baseball, so that makes me happy."
Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.