Sometimes all a player needs is an opportunity. At the start of the season, Shane Peterson seemed stalled at Double-A Midland. The outfielder/first-baseman had played exclusively for the Oakland A's Texas League affiliate ever since he was acquired by the A's from the St. Louis Cardinals in the Matt Holliday trade in 2009. However, an injury to Chris Carter gave Peterson an opportunity to show what he could do at the Triple-A level and he has taken advantage.
In 2009 and 2010 with Midland, Peterson posted OPSs of 729 and 722. However, he was putting up much improved numbers for the ‘Hounds at the time he was called up to Triple-A. In 14 games with Midland at the start of this season, Peterson hit .278 with an 854 OPS.
Peterson has played even better than that with Triple-A Sacramento. In 42 games for the River Cats, he is batting .305 with six homers and an 890 OPS. He has walked 22 times and has driven-in 31 runs. Peterson was especially good in May, when he batted .316 with a 954 OPS. He has an 833 OPS in nine games thus far in June.
The Long Beach State alum was the St. Louis Cardinals' second-round pick in 2008. He demonstrated an advanced approach to hitting early in his pro career and had reached Double-A with the Cardinals by the time the A's traded for him on July 24, 2009. The 23-year-old was a key cog on the Rockhounds' 2009 Texas League Championship team. He hit .433 with two homers and six RBIs in eight games that post-season.
We caught-up with Peterson on Sunday to discuss his transition to Triple-A, his comfort level playing first base and the outfield and more…
OaklandClubhouse: It's your first stint up here and you've been playing really well. Do you feel comfortable at Triple-A?
Shane Peterson: Yeah. I've been getting a lot more comfortable since when I first came up here. It takes a little bit of an adjustment. It's different than any other level just in terms of the types of pitchers that you face and the things that they can do. Ever since I've been up here, every day has been getting better and better.
OC: You were with Midland for a couple of years. Was it nice just to get out of the Texas League?
SP: Yeah, definitely. That league is tough just in terms of the places that you play and the travel. It can get really miserable at times. Being up here and having a change of pace and having it be a fresh start, of sorts, is a good thing.
OC: You are from Southern California, so I'm sure the Texas heat is something completely different from what you grew up with. What is it like to try to play in heat where it is 105 at first pitch at 7:05 pm?
SP: For me, it's the humidity that was killing me there. The place that I'm from in Southern California is fairly deserty, so it gets pretty hot. It gets to 110 in the summer, but it's a dry heat. That's what everyone talks about. It's pretty miserable. The humidity is what got me [in Texas].
OC: You've played a lot of first base and the outfield. Is there one that you like more than the other?
SP: Not really. I played first base all throughout college and when I was growing up. I didn't start playing in the outfield until I was drafted. But either one. I'm comfortable with both. Whatever gets me in the line-up, I'm happy to play.
OC: Your power numbers are up this year. Do you feel like that is a part of your game that is developing?
SP: I think for me, it's been a combination of a few things. I have made some improvements with my swing that have made me do better and make better contact. I feel like I have always had the power to hit homeruns. I just didn't make as consistent of contact as I should have. The Texas League isn't really that conducive to homeruns and neither was the Florida State League that I was in [his first pro season with St. Louis]. It's just a lot of little things building up. I think it is now showing more in my numbers than it has in the past.
OC: There have been a number of A's players to come out of Long Beach State. Did you know Bobby Crosby or Jason Giambi or any of those guys?
SP: I met them, but just an introduction, nothing too much. We had a few guys here with us, Bobby Cramer and Adam Heether. It was good getting to know them and having a chance to play with them. They were all older than me. I never got to play with them when I was younger. It's been good to see guys who went along the same path that I did to get here.
OC: The draft just finished up. Does it seem surreal that that was a few years ago for you now?
SP: It doesn't seem like it has been that long. But it is definitely an exciting time for the kids who were drafted. It was for me.
OC: Was it pretty easy to transition from the St. Louis organization to the A's organization? Are they pretty similar organizations?
SP: They are similar in a way. I think that every organization, they know baseball. You just go out there and you are playing the same game. Oakland hasn't really tried to change the way that I have played. I like things here. It is a lot more relaxed. They let you go about your business as long as you take care of your business. I enjoy it here.