PHOENIX, Ariz. -- The Oakland Athletics have been evaluating Scott Sizemore differently than the rest of the players in the hunt for their starting second base job. Sizemore missed the entire 2012 season with a torn ACL, and as a result it has taken him longer to shake off the rust.
On Monday, he finally found his swing, going 4 for 4 and raising his spring average from .171 to .244. In the previous 17 games, he had just seven hits, but the A's kept their faith in him.
"The way I played the first two weeks, it wasn't up to big league level," Sizemore said. "I understand that and I am glad they are patient with me and they're still putting me out there and giving me consistent at-bats."
Sizemore drove in the first run of the game in the A's 9-7 win over the Brewers with a sharp RBI single to left. He stroked another single to left in the fourth, and drove in another run with a single to right-center in the fifth frame. For good measure he hit another single up the middle in the seventh.
"Hitting is not easy," Sizemore said. "It's definitely a breath of fresh air to have some success and kind of feel like I know what I am doing up there again."
Getting off to a slow start after sitting out for an entire season is certainly understandable.
Before becoming a professional baseball player, Sizemore said he worked laying down hardwood floors. He admitted even that might be hard after a year off. It isn't nearly as challenging as squaring up a round wood bat on a circular baseball.
"That's not to be understated," Sizemore said. "In my opinion hitting is the hardest thing to do in sports and taking that long off from it, it ain't easy to come back and have it click."
It also didn't help that shortly after games started in the Cactus League, Sizemore was hit in the hand by a pitch and was forced to sit out while the other infielders seemed to all get off to fast starts offensively. That ratcheted up the pressure a little bit.
"I just kind of had to take a step back, relax and just worry about the process and not be so results oriented," Sizemore said.
Sizemore, 28, believes he is seeing the ball much better in the last few games. He says he is putting the timing together at the plate and building confidence in himself. In 2011, Oakland got a taste of what he could do when healthy and confident. That season he clubbed 11 homers and drove in 52 runs in just 93 games. He did so while learning how to play third base. He was going to be the A's starter at the hot corner before the knee injury cost him the year.
"I think just getting him out there and getting him a lot of at-bats, he's feeling a lot more comfortable," Melvin said. "That's the way he swings the bat. He drives the ball up the middle and the other way. That's where his strength is."
The return to second base is also becoming second nature again. If only he could figure out who his double play partner will be at shortstop. The A's still aren't sure which middle infielders they will pen into the lineup card on Opening Day. Sizemore was definitely a front-runner heading into camp. If he can build of Monday's game, the decision could be a lot easier.