Famous Tutor Revives Mitchell's Athletics Career

OAKLAND—After a big start to his professional career, outfielder Jermaine Mitchell wound up stranded in Stockton, Calif.

For two long, ugly years, Mitchell struggled through the high Class A California League, batting .245/.344/.351 in 1,025 trips to the plate stretching across 2008 and '09. "I hit the ball, I just wasn't getting hits," Mitchell said.

"The hardest thing for me was trying to stay positive," Mitchell said. "Failure was a new thing because I'd never failed before, and I had to learn to deal with it. I think I grew up a lot."

Mitchell's fortunes changed last season when he began talking with roving instructor Rickey Henderson.

"We just started talking," Mitchell said. "He realized that I'm a fiery kind of guy. He said to relax and let it go. As long as you realize you gave it your all, that's all you can do. Just have fun playing the game . . . (because) this game is built on failure."

Armed with a new attitude, Mitchell batted .309/.413/.523 with 10 homers in 78 games for Stockton last season before a promotion to Double-A Midland. The 26-year-old returned to the RockHounds this season, where he began on a .333/.467/.615 tear through 96 at-bats.

"He's a totally changed person," farm director Keith Lieppman said. "He's showed major league power. Before he was an opposite-field hitter, maybe hit the ball in the gap. Mostly he was just trying to survive. Now he's standing up there, looking for pitches to drive out of the park.

"He's played much better defense (in) center field every day. He's always had great athleticism—his speed is amazing when he's up and running."

An Athletics fifth-round pick in 2006, Mitchell grew up in Daingerfield, Texas, before attending North Carolina-Greensboro. Though he initially balked at the idea of batting leadoff, Mitchell learned to embrace the role after talking with Henderson.

"I'm getting comfortable with it," he said. "I feel like whenever I get on base, I can change the game."


• First baseman/left fielder Chris Carter jammed his left thumb—injuring the same digit that forced him out of action last year—and will miss four to six weeks. The slugger got off to a 9-for-52 (.173) start with Triple-A Sacramento.

• The A's promoted Shane Peterson to Sacramento to help fill in for the loss of Carter. Oakland turned Brett Wallace into Michael Taylor and Clayton Mortensen into Ethan Hollingsworth, making the 23-year-old Peterson the last player standing from the Matt Holliday trade with the Cardinals.