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Oakland A’s second baseman Adam Rosales was itching to get back on the field, so much so that he just arrived in town to begin his rehab stint with the River Cats and found himself in the starting lineup.
After he collected a single, double and triple by the sixth inning, one had to wonder — after he got pulled in the eighth — if he was even a little upset at not getting a chance to go for the cycle in his first game since August.
“No, it’s just fun to get out there and play,” said Rosales, who has been out for nine months rehabbing a broken bone in his ankle. “It’s fun to bump elbows with these guys and to enjoy playing at this level again.”
He got a chance to do more than bump elbows, as Rosales had three of the Cats’ 10 hits along with an RBI in Sacramento’s 7-4 comeback win over the Salt Lake Bees Wednesday at Raley Field.
After the dreaded rain delay of almost 90 minutes, the Bees opened the first with a sharp two-strike single by left fielder Tyson Auer. After a sacrifice by Chris Pettit, power hitter Jeff Baisley strode to the plate and dinked a bunt to Cats pitcher Carlos Hernandez. Hernandez promptly threw the ball in the dirt and, as it went by first baseman Shane Peterson and rolled to the wall, Auer hustled around the bases and scored from second. Baisley, who got to third on the throw, scored a batter later on a sacrifice from Bees first baseman Efren Navarro.
It first appeared that the River Cats would start clawing their way back from the early 2-0 deficit when leadoff hitter Rosales took the second pitch he saw into left for a single. After stealing second, Rosales was stranded in the heart of the diamond after the next three Cats-made outs.
Most guys would be lamenting over the missed playing time as if a younger player were ready to make a run for the player’s spot.
Not Rosales. He found different ways to keep his head in the game.
“It’s been a long road, but a road that’s taught me patience,” said Rosales, who has been with Oakland since 2009. “(It’s taught) me how to slow the game down a little bit. I get to study video a lot. I had so much time of my hands, I’d try and get as much baseball knowledge as I could when I wasn’t playing.”
The second started off just like the first for the Bees, as the first two batters singled again and sacrificed the runner to second. After that short run of duplicity, Cole Armstrong doubled in Gil Velazquez from second on the first pitch he saw. A batter later, Auer plated Armstrong on his second single of the game.
While Salt Lake put up two in each of the first two innings, Sacramento was still looking to dig in their spikes and scratch something onto the towering scoreboard.
That’s when Anthony “Home” Recker ripped the first pitch he saw over the wall in left field and watched it hit off the clubhouse wall for his ninth homer of the season.
“I had good fortune today,” he said later. “I put a pretty good swing on the ball.”
After a quiet third inning, the Cats finally busted out the whipping sticks. Following a fly out by Recker, the Cats unleashed back-to-back-to-back doubles by Michael Taylor, Eric Sogard and Jai Miller that scored two and got Sacramento to within a run.
Shane Peterson walked after Miller’s double to get Sacramento runners on second and third. Miller scored a moment later on another Cats double — this one by Rosales. Scott Sizemore continued the scoring barrage with a sacrifice fly that plated Peterson.
After a four-run fifth, the Cats led 5-4.
Considering the shaky start Cats pitcher Hernandez got off to — four hits, three sacrifices and two earned runs in the first two innings — the following four innings he pitched were nearly flawless. In frames three through six, Hernandez struck out five and gave up only two hits while keeping the Bees from pasting anymore runs onto the scoreboard.
“I threw a lot of fastballs,” Hernandez said of his change in the game. “I went in and out on hitters and mixed speeds when I needed too. Recker called a good game too.”
The Cats put two more runs on their side of the ledger in the game. Rosales scored on a throwing error by Bees second baseman Dwayne Bailey after his leadoff triple in the sixth. Later, in the seventh, Miller knocked in Recker, who had walked to start the inning.
Three scoreless innings were the work of the Cats bullpen — an inning each by Jerry Blevins, Fautino De Los Santos and Willie Eyre, who, after a leadoff walk in the ninth, struck out the side to end the game.
After the game, the question still begged to be asked: How does a guy who has not picked up a bat for nine months get a single, a double, a triple and steal a base in his first game back? Seriously? After ankle surgery?
“A true hitter is always trying to improve himself,” Rosales said smiling. “I’m still getting completely comfortable at the plate.”
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