7/30/2013 2:13 A.M. ET
Smith finds his way out of career-worst slide
By Jane Lee / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- Mired in the longest hitless streak of his career, Seth Smith deemed his 0-for-29 stretch "frustrating and embarrassing" on Monday, but he also mentioned his timing is finally coming around again.
He proved it by going 2-for-3 with an RBI in Oakland's 9-4 victory over Toronto on Monday night.
"My swing has been fine," Smith said before the game. "Batting practice and in the cage, it's fine. It's just being able to get in a good hitting position and being able to see the ball out of the pitcher's hand. Those are two things I've been struggling to get comfortable with. It's tough to struggle during the season regardless of when it is, but having those days off during the break didn't help, because even before then I wasn't great. It's all snowballed."
But in recent days, Smith has "felt like I had a chance, so we're heading in the right direction."
That's good news for the A's, who, despite continually adding on in the win column, are watching several of their usual key contributors go through offensive woes. Besides Smith, Josh Donaldson and Josh Reddick have been in a funk, as was, until Sunday, Yoenis Cespedes.
"I'm closer than I was yesterday," Smith said. "I let some fastballs get deep and recognized them instead of plunging out and trying to reach out and hit them out in front, so that's a positive and something I'm excited about.
"We've been winning, so it's kind of taken the brunt off of it. ... Winning's nice, but you still want to be a part of winning. You don't just want to be the out in the lineup. So while I'm not worried about what my numbers say, I am worried about helping this team win. So the sooner I can do that the happier I'll be."
Streaking Sogard promoted to the two-hole
OAKLAND -- The Spring Training version of Eric Sogard is back, and his return couldn't have come at a better time.
Following Sunday's career-high-tying three-hit performance that extended his hitting streak to seven games, Sogard was promoted to the second spot of the A's lineup for Monday's series opener against the Blue Jays.
The move coincides with struggling times for Josh Donaldson, Josh Reddick and Seth Smith, who hit sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively, on Monday. Reddick has just three hits since the All-Star break, Donaldson one and Smith none.
"We've juggled the lineup over the course of the year," manager Bob Melvin said, "and we'll continue to depending on how guys are swinging."
During Sogard's hitting streak, the second baseman is 11-for-27 for a .407 average, with four doubles, a home run and six RBIs. He hit .444 with a .500 on-base percentage through 26 Spring Training contests but carried a .255 average into the break. It's now at .272.
Monday marked the first time all season and just the third time of his career that Sogard has hit as high as second, with 71 of his 72 previous starts this year coming in the eighth or ninth hole.
"I didn't say anything to him today, so he probably looked at the lineup and thought he had the day off when he looked down in the nine spot," Melvin said, smiling. "He's been swinging well and deserves to be up there. He kind profiles the spot, too. He can handle the bat a little bit, pull the ball in the hole when he has to, hit the ball the other way. He can be a hit-and-run type of guy."
• Catcher John Jaso (concussion) has yet to resume any baseball activities since exiting Wednesday's game in Houston, making it unlikely he will be reinstated off the 7-day disabled list when eligible Thursday.
Jaso's replacement, Stephen Vogt, was 3-for-10 with a home run, a double and three RBIs in his first four games, three of them starts, since his Thursday callup from Triple-A. The A's entered Monday 7-0 in his starting assignments at catcher this year.
"We're lucky to be able to have a guy like that who we didn't even see in Spring Training and really didn't even realize how he can contribute," manager Bob Melvin said. "He has. He's fit in very well with the pitchers right away, gotten key hits for us. Nice little luxury to have a left-handed bat like that when Jaso is out."
• Entering Monday, the A's held a six-game lead on the Rangers in the American League West, marking the first time they've led the division by that many games before the end of July since July 24, 1988, when they led by 6 1/2 games.
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.