6/20/2013 2:52 P.M. ET
A's seeking more production from third spot in order
By Christian Corona / Special to MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- The third hitter in a lineup is normally one of the most productive, someone who ideally can hit for both power and average. But the A's have not gotten much production from that spot in the lineup this year.
Those hitting third for the A's this season are batting a Major League-worst .220. In 33 games there, Yoenis Cespedes is hitting .260, while everyone else is batting .190. The only spot in the lineup where the A's have been worse this season is the ninth spot, where they are hitting .202.
"I think they pitch you differently in the third hole," infielder Jed Lowrie said. "You see more offspeed [pitches]. I think you're right in the middle of the lineup where there are more guys on base and more situations to drive runners in."
Lowrie started at shortstop and batted third in Thursday's series finale against the Rangers. Entering Thursday, he was hitting .219 in 18 games batting third. He was hitting .316 in all other spots in the lineup.
"I can't really put my finger on why the batting average is lower," Lowrie said. "It's situational. I don't think it's necessarily exactly where you are in the lineup."
Norris available after being injured on foul tip
ARLINGTON -- Less than 24 hours after being hit in the groin by a foul tip off the bat of Adrian Beltre, Derek Norris feels good enough to play if the A's need him in Thursday's series finale.
Norris left in the sixth inning of Wednesday's 9-4 loss to the Rangers after Dan Otero fired a 90 mph fastball that was tipped straight back into Norris, leaving him on all fours. He was replaced by John Jaso. Norris was wearing a cup, but he said he lost the feeling in his legs and didn't feel as though he could perform well enough to stay in the game.
"I definitely feel better. I don't feel as sick," Norris said. "Last night, when I had to come out of the game, it was because of pain tolerance, not a discomfort tolerance. It's a discomfort today, not a pain."
If he was needed on Thursday, Norris said he would be ready to go.
"When it comes time for [the game], I'll be more than ready to play," Norris said. "It just caught me in the right spot at the wrong time. If they need me to play today, I can go. It's not going to be very easy, but I can still man up and play if I need to. If something happens where John goes down, I'll step in and do the job."
Jaso, who was supposed to get a day off on Wednesday, went 0-for-2 after coming in for Norris. He started at catcher and batted second in Thursday's series finale. Third baseman Josh Donaldson is the team's emergency catcher.
"It would have to be an emergency situation," manager Bob Melvin said of Norris' availability for Thursday's game. "We have Donaldson, who we don't want in that situation. Derek even came into my office earlier and said, 'I know I don't look so good moving around right now, but if you really need me, I can go back there.'"
Jaso putting it together at plate in June
ARLINGTON -- For John Jaso, it's as simple as seeing the ball better.
Jaso is batting .366 with a .481 on-base percentage in 12 games this June, putting him on pace to have the best month of his career. After hitting just .235 in May, Jaso reached base in 17 consecutive games before going hitless in two at-bats after replacing Derek Norris in Wednesday's loss to the Rangers.
"I think it just has to do with my vision," Jaso said. "Letting it get deeper. It doesn't have anything to do with extra work or tuning my swing. My eyes are staying on the ball, instead of coming off it."
Jaso has raised his average from .252 to .278 this month. He's drawn seven walks and struck out only five times in 38 at-bats. His .368 batting average this month is the highest among American League catchers.
"He's swinging the bat really well," manager Bob Melvin said. "He's getting his fair share of hits and driving the ball again, but he's walking and getting on base. That works pretty well in that [No.] 2 spot."
Jaso batted .326 last June, his best career one-month average. This June, he's well on his way to setting a career high in that category.
"It's just getting repetitions. That's probably it," Jaso said. "I know last year, I didn't really play that much in the beginning of the year and then I started becoming more of a regular. As I get more repetitions at the plate, I just see the ball better."
• Chris Young hit his seventh home run of the season in Wednesday's 9-4 loss to the Rangers, a three-run shot in the fifth. Four of his seven homers have come with two runners on base.
• The A's used their 65th different lineup for Thursday's series finale against the Rangers.
• Yoenis Cespedes batted fourth and started at designated hitter for the seventh straight game, as he nurses a tight left hamstring. Melvin said he is still unsure when Cespedes will be able to play in the field again.
Christian Corona is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.