Smith’s versatility a boon for A’s

By Steve Hunt/Special to the Journal

ARLINGTON, Texas – Already this season, Seth Smith has played left field, right field and designated hitter for Oakland. But no matter where the Ole Miss product has played, he has contributed, hitting .280 with 4 HR and 20 RBI through 30 games.
The A’s outfielder has played 23 games in left, but admits he feels equally comfortable in either corner outfield spot.
“Yeah, I’ve played a lot of both of them through the minor leagues and in the big leagues,” he said. “Whichever they stick me in, I’ll adjust accordingly.”
And while he’s the consummate team player who will do whatever A’s manager Bob Melvin asks, he admits he still likes playing the field over DHing, which he has done in 15 games this year, hitting .315 with 4 HR and 12 RBI as Oakland’s DH.
“I’d prefer to play defense and be out on the field. It helps you stay in the game. I’ve done a lot of DH last year and this year, so it’s been something I’ve had to adjust to and figure out an approach for,” Smith said.
Melvin realizes how hard it can be to DH and the veteran skipper appreciates how well the 30-year-old veteran has handled that role in both 2012 and 2013.
“[He’s] a guy who can DH and that can be a difficult thing to do. A lot of guys have a tough time DHing and he doesn’t,” he said.
However, giving him some good at-bats as DH is only one of several ways that Smith has helped Oakland so far this season. “He can play any of the corner outfield spots. This year, he’s been hitting left-handed pitching well,” Melvin said. “Here’s a guy that they were talking about as your fifth outfielder, the guy that’s getting everyday at-bats. He’s been great for us.”
clubhouse role
Smith is also filling an integral role in the Oakland clubhouse as someone who has not only been to the playoffs three times, twice before coming to the A’s, but he also knows how tough it is to reach the postseason in consecutive seasons.
“I’ve been on two playoff teams previously and the year after we’ve kind of tanked. So, that’s something I’ve told some of the guys and we’ve talked about, it doesn’t just happen. It takes hard work and it’s a long season,” he said. “You’ve got to put the hard work and time in.”
Steve Hunt is a freelance writer based in Frisco, Texas.