Putnam Looking To Finish Healthy And Strong

Injuries have taken a major toll on the playoff hopes for the Oakland A's in 2007, but there has been a positive aspect to the long DL list: the A's have had a chance to expose some of the players who could play a big part in the team's future to the major leagues. One of those players is outfielder Danny Putnam, who made his major league debut in late April with Oakland.

Danny Putnam, who was selected by the A's in the supplemental first round in 2004 out of Stanford, spent nearly three weeks in the big leagues this season. He appeared in 11 games for Oakland from April 23 through May 10, batting .214 with one homer and two RBI in 28 at-bats. That homer came in Putnam's last game with the A's, a 3-4 effort at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium.

"It was definitely fun to see a bit of the dream come true. Obviously, my dream is to be up there for a long time and just to get a taste of it was awesome. It makes me more hungry to get back up there," Putnam said on Sunday in Sacramento.

Although Putnam didn't post outstanding numbers during his first stint in the major leagues, he believes the experience will help him the next time he gets the call.

"There is a desire to want to do too much [when you are in the major leagues] and to want to do something special so that everyone can see you," Putnam said.

"I think the key is to try to keep everything as simple as possible. I know I'll feel more comfortable the next time. You are always more comfortable the second time you are exposed to a new level."

Putnam was optioned back to the minor leagues on May 11 and he reported to Triple-A Sacramento. He was actually in the unusual position of making his Triple-A debut after he had made his major league debut. Putnam began the season in Double-A Midland, where he got off to a red-hot start before he was called up to Oakland. In 13 games with the Rockhounds, Putnam hit .327 with a 1001 OPS.

Unfortunately for Putnam, his Triple-A debut was put on pause only 10 days after it began. In his third game with the River Cats, Putnam was hit in the hand with a pitch. Putnam played another week of games, but he was eventually shelved with what turned out to be a broken hand. For Putnam, it was an aggravating set-back.

"It was frustrating because I got called up and had worked through the nerves a little bit up there. I started feeling better up there at the end, had my best game and then was sent down. Before long, I think three days, I got hurt," Putnam said.

"I tried to play through it for about a week and got into some bad habits that I have had to work through."

Putnam is still working his way back to the form he showed in Midland in April.

"From when I started swinging the bat [after the injury healed], it took at least a couple of weeks before I started to feel like I was normal. Right now, I'm at the point where, one day [his swing] feels great, the next day, it feels terrible," Putnam said.

"The first day out, I felt great and then the next two days were bad, so it is just a matter of getting it consistent."

This is the second consecutive year that Putnam has missed time with injury. After playing in 131 games for Stockton in 2005 and driving in 100 runs, Putnam appeared in only 76 total games in 2006, 60 of which came with Midland. Putnam missed nearly three months with a knee injury before returning in time to help the Rockhounds into the post-season. He won the Texas League Player of the Week award during the final week of the season and he had six homers in only 64 at-bats in August and September for Midland.

"It's frustrating [to get hurt] because it is hard to get in a rhythm and get in a groove. I like playing. I don't like being hurt and being sidelined. They were kind of freak things that happened," Putnam said.

"There is nothing I can point to and say that I wasn't working hard or something like that, so I am not ashamed of what has happened [with the hand and wrist injuries]. I'm just hoping that no other freak injuries happen that are totally out of my control."

One major development in Putnam's game this season has been his added versatility in the outfield. Before this season, Putnam had primarily played corner outfield positions. However, Putnam was thrust out into centerfield when he was in Oakland and he handled himself well. Since arriving in Sacramento, Putnam has been seeing time in center. River Cats manager Tony DeFrancesco said before Sunday's game that he believes Putnam can handle the position, and that added versatility should aid in Putnam's chances of returning to the big leagues.

"I think the more time he has out in center and the more reads he gets, the more he will be able to fill-in up there in center," DeFrancesco said.

For now, though, Putnam is just happy to be back on the field and playing every day.

"I'm just looking forward to playing as much as I can the rest of the season and to being as healthy as I can," Putnam said.

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