Slugger Allen Learns To Diversify Game With Athletics

OAKLAND—First baseman Brandon Allen struggled through his first three professional seasons before he got the message: One can collect hits by staying back and hitting the offspeed pitch to the opposite field.

"I just started learning the game a little more," Allen said. "I learned to have an approach and started to stick to it. You can't just go up there and swing—you have to figure some things out. Luckily, I started to figure them out."

Prior to coming to the Athletics in the July trade that sent Brad Ziegler to Arizona, the 25-year-old Allen had tantalized the Diamondbacks with his power. He slugged 55 homers for Triple-A Reno during the past three seasons, but he hit just .213/.325/.404 in 178 big league at-bats for Arizona during those same seasons.

Upon arriving in Oakland, Allen supplanted Daric Barton and made a positive initial impression by batting .290 with three homers in 18 August games. He cooled considerably afterward, batting .129 with no homers and 33 strikeouts in 20 games during September.

The A's watched closely to see if the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Allen could handle first base on an everyday basis.

"He makes a big target over there," big league manager Bob Melvin said, lauding Allen's defensive skills. He had been particularly adept at scooping throws out of the dirt, a far cry from his days as a White Sox farmhand, the organization that drafted him in the fifth round in 2004. Back then, scouts regarded Allen as a DH-in-waiting.

"It's just maturing in the game," Allen said. "Some coaches with the White Sox helped me out a lot. It's learning to take pride in the game, and defense is definitely an area where I take a lot of pride."

Allen cannot be sent to the minors in 2012 without first being exposed to waivers because he has no minor league options remaining.


• Though he hit just .240/.314/.413 in 120 games for high Class A Stockton, shortstop Dusty Coleman earned a promotion to Triple-A Sacramento in time for the playoffs because the organization values his glovework.

Grant Green finished the season with a promotion to Sacramento, where he started in right field during the Pacific Coast League playoffs. He began the season as a shortstop at Double-A Midland before moving to center field in mid-July.