OAKLAND—Almost immediately after shortstop Grant Green signed with the Athletics as the 13th overall pick in 2009, he faced a hurdle so daunting that most players would be intimidated.
Green had been a good, and occasionally great, college hitter at Southern California. But after signing for $2.75 million, the A's wanted him to change just about everything in his swing.
"It was difficult," Green said. "I changed my swing from the college metal-bat swing, staying inside the ball and going opposite field, to a pro swing, pulling the ball. It was a complete 180 from what I had been doing."
So Green, 22, worked diligently with hitting coaches Greg Sparks and Tim Garland to make the adjustment.
"I've always, ever since I could remember, had a little trouble pulling the ball," Green said. "I've been told I had a Derek Jeter swing, where I stay inside the ball. So I had to learn how to pull when I can, to look for the ball inside so I can do some damage with it rather than hit it up the middle.
"I'd say I've made a little progress with that."
That's a big understatement. Green emerged as a dominant hitter in the high Class A California League, batting .315/.359/.512 through 502 at-bats for Stockton, racking up 17 home runs, 36 doubles, six triples and 77 RBIs.
"He really has an exceptional feel for the offensive game," farm director Keith Lieppman said. "He puts together solid, consistent at-bats."
Despite a .920 fielding percentage and a Cal League leading 34 errors, Green had made improvements to his defensive play at shortstop, Lieppman said. He credits Green with an improved ability to read the ball off the bat, though he had not yet proven he has sufficient arm strength for the left side of the infield.
"My goal has always been to play as a shortstop at the big league level," Green said. "(A's starter Cliff Pennington is) doing very well. The final goal is just to get there.
"I would love to play as a shortstop, but if it means making the majors, I would suck up my pride and make the switch (to second base)."
• Triple-A Sacramento slugger Chris Carter will spend the winter playing in the Mexican Pacific League, where the plan calls for the natural first baseman him to focus on the finer points of playing left field. He went 0-for-19 with nine strikeouts during his first callup to Oakland.
• Sacramento righthander Tyson Ross, who began the year in the Oakland bullpen, suffered a strained ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow that knocked him out for the season. He landed in the Sacramento rotation in July, just long enough to make six starts.