Posted at 9:53 AM on September 13, 2006
by David Zingler
The season couldn't have begun any worse for Bobby Kielty. Caught in a bizarre roster shuffle, the outfielder found himself at Triple A Sacramento, back in the minor leagues for the first time since 2002.
"It wasn't fun by any means - getting sent down," the former Twin explained. "I don't think it's fun for anybody, everybody's goal is to stay in the big leagues. Everything worked out OK, but it was definitely a grind for the first month of the season....Now that I'm here, everything's working out."
All I wanted was to get back up as soon as possible," Kielty continued. "Luckily some things happened to get me back up here really fast. The atmosphere down there isn't as good, the motivation (to play) isn't as great -- it's definitely an eye opener. It makes you think about how long you could possibly be playing the game when you get sent down. I think that's the one thing everybody thinks about."
Primarily used against left handers, Kielty has provided a boost off the A's bench, posting solid numbers (.273/.333/.437, 7 HR, 30 RBI) in limited duty. Although one thing has been missing from his game - the walks. In 245 at-bats the normally patient hitter has garnered just 21 free passes.
"(My walks are down) probably because of sporadic playing time," the 30-year-old commented. "Normally I am up there and am really able to work the count, but with sporadic playing time I try to be real aggressive and without seeing a lot of pitches you can't track the speed as well as normal. They're down, but that doesn't mean that am not a patient hitter, this year it's just kind of been that way."
The main topic of conversion in Oakland regarding Kielty however, has nothing to do with stats. Last season he debuted a fiery orange afro that gained the attention of the fans and earned him the nickname 'Ronald McDonald'. He even dressed up like the fast food icon and juggled for the fans. When he showed up this spring with a shaved head, the reviews were not good.
"When I shaved my head everyone in the stands was mad and wanted Ronny Mac back," Kielty chuckled. "The fans starting chanting 'Ronnie Mac, we want the 'fro back', so I am trying to grow it back and give it to 'em."
Last year I had a ton of people...all wearing orange wigs in right field," the 6-year-veteran said of his cult following. "It was kind of cool to see that. And they did a troll doll day for me - a Bobby Kielty troll doll, that was fun."
The A's meanwhile, have more serious business to attend to. In the midst of another torrid second half run, the team has some breathing room in the AL West and looks headed to the postseason. "We're laid back, we get along real well," Kielty said of his scruffy teammates. "There's no cancer-type guys. Everybody's focused on one thing, that's getting to the playoffs and winning, that's the main focus. There is a lot of intensity as far as the games are concerned. We're out to try to make the playoffs, that's the bottom line."
Kielty, who had 7 at-bats during the Twins postseason run in 2002, hopes to have a bigger role this time around. "If it's a lefty, I may get a chance to play," the candid outfielder explained. "If a righty is throwing, I don't think they are going to play me much. I always have to be ready."