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August 09. 2014 7:33PM

Ian Clark's On Baseball: Last to first in a phone call for A's Fuld


Aug 2, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics center fielder Sam Fuld (23) successfully bunts during the fifth inning against the Kansas City Royals at O.co Coliseum. (Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports)

FROM last place to first place in the span of a phone call.

Such was the case for Durham's Sam Fuld, who was traded from Minnesota to Oakland at the MLB trade deadline. The swap for lefty pitcher Tommy Milone not only sent Fuld away from the cellar-dwelling Twins, but he joined a first-place A's team that had placed him on waivers back in April.

"When I got that phone call, I was caught off guard a little bit," Fuld told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "I can't ask for a better situation than here. It's fun, a great environment, and I feel like I fit in well."

So far, so good for the 32-year-old Fuld in his return to Oakland, which also added outfielder Johnny Gomes and lefty hurler Jon Lester from the Boston Red Sox.

Fuld's batting average has dipped slightly, but everything else has been excellent in his seven games back (heading into the weekend).

The standout play placed Fuld front and center in highlight reels for most of last weekend.

In his second game back with Oakland, Fuld made a catch in centerfield in the fourth inning against Kansas City. Alex Gordon tagged up from third base and headed toward the plate, but Fuld's throw (which included enough momentum to send Fuld into a somersault) was on line for the tag out at home.

Fuld has five hits in 23 at bats, dropping his average slightly from .264 to .258 for the season. But he has stolen three bases.

It's no surprise that Fuld was caught off guard by the trade. After all, he was coming off a red-hot July and seemed to be settling in nicely with the Twins.

Fuld hit .358 over 86 plate appearances in July and played his usual stellar defense in the outfield.

Locke rebounds: Conway's Jeff Locke put an end to a two-game slide with a solid performance Wednesday night in a 7-3 win over Miami.

Locke threw seven innings, scattering six hits and allowing three earned runs while striking out seven.

Locke got off to a tough start in the game, giving up all three runs in the first two innings. But he settled in and finished by retiring 16 of the final 17 batters-including the final 13 he faced-to pick up the win. Locke had lost his previous two starts, giving up 10 earned runs and 19 hits over 12 innings in losses to Arizona and Colorado. He is now 3-3 with a 3.78 ERA.

McGowan: Nashua's Kevin McGowan turned in a solid start with St. Lucie of the Advanced A league Friday night.

A Nashua North and Franklin Pierce University product, McGowan worked a quiet first six innings, allowing no runs and just two hits.

A leadoff walk to Travis Harrison was almost worked around by McGowan, who got the next two batters to ground out (moving Harrison to second base).

But a two-out-triple from Stuart Turner brought Harrison in to score and ended McGowan's night on the mound. Reliever Max Kepler struck out the next batter to close McGowan's line with one earned run, three hits and five strikeouts.

It was a great outing for McGowan, but unfortunately he did not receive any run support and Fort Myers took a 1-0 lead on Turner's triple, leaving McGowan with nothing to show for his effort except a loss in the eventual 4-0 final.

McGowan is now 2-3 on the season with St. Lucie.

Staff writer Ian Clark can be reached at iclark@unionleader.com.


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