It was a long road back for Dusty Coleman. The Oakland A's infield prospect fractured his wrist diving for a ball in May 2009 with the Low-A Kane County Cougars. Coleman played with the injury the rest of the season, but his production at the plate fell off precipitously. His OPS was in the mid-900s before the injury, but he finished the year with a 728 OPS in 119 games for Kane County and High-A Stockton.
An off-season surgery was supposed to correct the problem in plenty of time for him to return for the 2010 season, but the recovery from that surgery didn't go as he or the A's had hoped and he had to have another surgery to fix the problem. Coleman wound-up missing the entire 2010 campaign.
Despite missing an entire year, Coleman was a standout performer at the minor league spring training camp, according to A's Director of Player Personnel Keith Lieppman. Assigned to Stockton, Coleman has gotten off to a decent start at the plate. Through Tuesday, he was batting .259 with a 746 OPS and seven RBIs in 13 games.
We had a chance to speak briefly with Coleman before the Ports took on the Visalia Rawhide on Sunday.
OaklandClubhouse: How does it feel to be playing again?
Dusty Coleman: It feels great to be back on the field with the guys and playing the great game of baseball in general.
OC: How is the wrist? Is it back to 100 percent?
DC: It's feels great. I haven't had any problems. I have been swinging a bunch, so I figured that I might be a little sore after that, but so far I haven't felt anything.
OC: You finished your rehab last November. How was your off-season after that? Were you able to have a pretty normal routine?
DC: Yeah, I got healthy towards the beginning of November and right away I got started in the hitting program and the throwing program. The whole time I was pretty much lifting and getting ready, so I felt really good coming into spring this year.
OC: When I spoke with Keith Lieppman this spring, he said you were playing really well. Was there an aspect of the game that took longer to get back into the flow of?
DC: Definitely just being at the plate and seeing pitches again. There are only so many times you can hit front-toss and hit off of the tee. Seeing live pitching was tough. I felt like I handled it pretty well. I have struggled a little bit early on this season, but I feel like it will continue to progress as the season goes on.
OC: You hit a homerun [Saturday] night. Did that feel good?
DC: [laughs] Oh, yeah. It felt great. I've never had a bad feeling homerun.
OC: At this stage, with your health and everything else, do you feel like you are back to where you were early in the 2009 season with Kane County before you dove and injured the wrist?
DC: I'm getting back to being more consistent. Getting a consistent swing and seeing pitches and swinging at pitches that I want to swing at and not chasing. That is the biggest thing that I am working at.
OC: Defensively, shortstop has been your main position, but you have spent some time at second and third. Are you comfortable at the other two spots?
DC: Yeah. I played a lot more at second and third this spring and I feel like I can play those. It's just a matter of getting the reps and getting the playing time experience with it. I'm sure whenever I get that chance, I'll have the opportunity to show what I can do there. But I am really comfortable at short.