ARLINGTON, Texas — Spending roughly a month in the minors did much to help Travis Buck's swing, but it may have done even more good from a mental standpoint.
Buck was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on Friday, one of four players added to the A's 25-man roster, and was back hitting leadoff and playing right field in a 3-1 loss to the Texas Rangers.
It was time well spent away from the big league club, Buck said. At the time he was placed on the disabled list April 24 for shin splints, Buck was hitting .154.
The A's simply optioned him to the minors rather than bring him back up when he came off the DL.
He hit .529 over his final nine games with Sacramento, and .337 in 24 games overall.
Buck entered 2008 as one of the A's most promising young players, and one of their most recognizable thanks to several offseason trades. With crowd favorite Nick Swisher having been dealt, Buck sensed that filling the void of Swisher's larger-than-life personality was on his shoulders.
"You try to do too much "... rather than go out and do what I do best," Buck said.
"Being counted on when Swisher left — me with the long hair and style of play, stuff like that — I didn't know how to take it in the beginning. (Getting demoted) needed to happen."
Though Buck went 0-for-4 Friday, he believes he went a long way toward rediscovering his best hitting approach — driving the ball to the gaps and taking it to the opposite field.
"All reports were he's hitting well to all fields," A's manager Bob Geren said. "When he does that it usually means he's locked in."
Tale of two Sweeneys
Center fielder Ryan Sweeney was surprised to walk into the A's clubhouse Friday and learn he was among the team's many transactions.
Sweeney was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left toe contusion, though X-rays on his toe came back negative after he fouled a ball off his foot Wednesday. Sweeney was listed as day to day Thursday, and he said Friday his condition had not worsened.
"It's not really up to me what happens," he said. "I don't know how long they thought I'd be out, but obviously they needed a (healthy) lineup. It was definitely a shock to me." Sweeney said he was hoping to try playing in three or four days, but admitted he didn't know if he would be ready to.
Putting Sweeney on the DL freed up space for the A's to call up both Buck and Carlos Gonzalez.
Both started in the outfield Friday alongside Emil Brown, moving Jack Cust into the DH role and giving the A's a stronger defensive outfield.
First baseman/DH Mike Sweeney also went on the DL with left knee inflammation. Geren said neither Sweeney would take batting practice for the next few days, and that Ryan Sweeney was more likely to be activated June 14, when both are eligible.
Reliever Joey Devine, the third Athletic to hit the DL Friday, has right elbow inflammation, an MRI showed Thursday. Devine said he really started noticing the pain Monday and hadn't pitched since Sunday.
Eric Chavez started his first game at third base since rejoining the A's on Thursday and went 1-for-4. "... Reliever Kiko Calero, activated from the 60-day DL on Friday, has completed his comeback from a torn rotator cuff. He entered Friday's game and got the final out of the eighth inning. "... The Rangers flipped their starters for the final two games of the series, so Sidney Ponson will pitch tonight and Scott Feldman on Sunday.
— Joe Stiglich