Hannahan brings all-around talent
Third baseman lays down surprise bunt in DH role
OAKLAND -- A designated hitter is usually not the guy you see nicely laying down bunts for base hits. Nor will you usually find one in the leadoff spot -- unless you happen to be in Oakland.
As Eric Chavez continues his slow but sure return to third base, manager Bob Geren has been keeping the other hot corner man, Jack Hannahan, in the lineup as the club's DH.
"We want to be able to keep Jack's bat in there," Geren said. "He's done a nice job for us all year."
In Wednesday's win against the Yankees, Hannahan proved the DH has duties other than simply knocking out homers and getting slugger-type extra-base hits. With Travis Buck on first in the third inning, Hannahan saw an opportunity at the plate he couldn't pass up.
"A-Rod was playing off the grass, and then I saw him take an extra step backward," he said. "So that's when I thought I could get on with a bunt, because I know the ball rolls slow in the infield."
With the count at 0-1, Hannahan got the ball on the ground. Entering the game, he had not grounded into a double play in 183 at-bats, placing him second in the American League. So he was almost certain he had avoided a two-out play, but was he going to make it to first?
"I knew it caught A-Rod off guard," Hannahan said. "So I just busted down the line and, luckily, it worked out."
The hit easily moved Buck to second, and jumpstarted a much-needed offensive rally that continued with five more consecutive hits -- giving Oakland a 6-1 lead in an eventual 8-4 pounding over New York.
"It's finally nice to be getting on base to let the guys behind me get those big hits and bring in runs," he said.
Hannahan, who was in the third-base slot for Thursday's lineup, has started 85 of the A's last 108 games in that position during the absence of Chavez. Before the start of the series finale against New York, he expressed a newfound sense of confidence in his ability to help the team even when he's not manning the hot corner.
"I'm fortunate to be in this situation," he said. "I'm just trying to make the most of it, and am in a position in which, whenever or wherever they need me, I can be ready."
In his six-plus years in Detroit's Minor League system, Hannahan racked up experience at every infield position behind the pitcher, and even spent some of his final year in the Minors in the DH spot.
"Having a routine is the biggest thing when you're DH'ing," he said. "You definitely have to keep the bat fresh."
Even if his bunt wasn't very routine, Hannahan sure impressed Geren, who admitted after the game that the A's hitter had "decided to do that on his own."
When hearing of his skipper's praise of his performance, Hannahan cracked a smile as he prepared to head out for batting practice.
"That's awesome," he said. "It's a lot easier playing when you know the manager has confidence in you. That's huge for a player."
Jane Lee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.