Going into Spring Training, the A's outfield situation was uncertain. As I pored through the pre-season previews and tried to become acquainted with names like Ryan Sweeney and Carlos Gonzalez, only one player was practically guaranteed a starting spot. With nearly a full season in the big leagues under his belt, and even a bobblehead with his golden locks planned in 2008, Travis Buck was to be the one top of the order corner outfielder we could count on.
But, as we all know now, it wasn't to be the case. Buck started the season off with an 0-10 series in Japan against Boston, and extended his hitless streak to 20+ at bats before reaching base safely. In fact, his batting average never exceeded .189 on the campaign, and he was homerless through June 1st. It wasn't long until Buck found himself on the DL, and eventually, in Sacramento, where he saw many rookies get called up from AAA to be in the big show, where he had expected to play a major role.
Turns out, in addition to his questionable haircut, Buck has been wrong in the head all year - fighting off vertigo and a concussion, suffered on June 11th. He returned to Oakland last night, hoping to make us remember the Travis Buck with potential - the one we could count on racing toward second or third like his hair was on fire. And while he didn't knock out any extra base hits yesterday, he made his mark early against Lackey and the Angels, gathering two hits, a stolen base and 2 RBI.
Does this mean the "good" Travis Buck is back for the rest of the season, and hopefully, that we can expect him to deliver in 2009? There aren't too many games left the rest of the way, but, assuming he'll stay healthy, he should get his unfair share of playing time, and get his chance to prove himself once again - making the A's off-season decisions a little bit more clear. We'll be rooting for him.