Buck's 2008 season got off to a rough start when he went 0-10 with three strike-outs during the A's two-game set in Japan versus the Boston Red Sox. That slump continued into the A's first homestand in Oakland, as Buck went 0-11 in front of the home crowd before finally collecting his first hits of the season during the A's first road game in Toronto. He got his average up to .245 on April 13th, but he quickly fell into another slump, going 2-21 before being placed on the DL with shin splints.
Once he was healthy, Buck was sent to Triple-A Sacramento for a rehab assignment. It was expected that Buck would be brought back to Oakland once he was healthy, but the A's didn't see the improvement that they wanted to with his swing and optioned him to Triple-A on May 10. He stayed in the minor leagues until May 29th, when he was promoted back to Oakland after hitting .337 for the River Cats.
Buck returned to the River Cats' line-up on Saturday and since that time, he has gone 3-9 with five RBIs and three walks. He is now batting .295 with an 802 OPS in 38 games for the River Cats. We caught-up with Buck on Sunday and asked him about his health, his early season struggles, making it back to the big leagues and more…
OaklandClubhouse: How are you feeling? Are you completely recovered from the concussion and the thumb injury?
OC: Was that your first concussion?
TB: First one ever, yeah. Fortunately, it was just a mild one. The best thing about it was that I caught the ball. [laughs] I would have been a little bit more upset if I hadn't caught it.
OC: The catch preserved a no-hitter, right?
OC: How would you rate your swing at this point?
TB: [My swing] is totally fine. The biggest thing for me is confidence. Ever since I got sent down the first time, the confidence has definitely come back. The swing is totally fine. Even when I went back up [to the majors] the second time, I didn't get many hits, but the swing was there and I got some walks, hit some homers and I was hitting a lot of balls right at guys. So I am happy where I am at with my swing.
OC: To what would you attribute your early-season struggles?
OC: Do you have a sense of what you need to do to get back to the big leagues, or are you not worrying about it?
TB: I just want to go out there and play everyday and enjoy the game. I know that if I am healthy, I am going to put up great numbers. Whenever the time comes, the time comes. I'm not going to put added pressure on myself again trying to get back up there. I know I can have success at that level. I proved it last year.
OC: Was there something that happened at the start of the season that caused the poor start?
OC: I know it has been a while now, but what was the Japan trip like?
TB: It was great. It was a lot of fun. We got treated really well. The Japanese fans definitely know the game of baseball. It was fun playing in front of an unbelievable crowd that was into every pitch, which is what it seemed like. Obviously playing against the Red Sox and having [Hideki] Okajima and [Daisuke] Matsuzaka pitch against us, it was an experience I'll never forget.
OC: Was it hard to get your bio-rhythms back to normal after the trip?
TB: It was. I couldn't sleep through the night until about two weeks back in the States, when I was finally able to sleep through the night. That pretty much happened with everybody. It was just something that you have to overcome. But it all comes with the territory with going over there for a week.
OC: Did you go anywhere during the Triple-A All-Star break?
TB: I actually just went back down to Oakland. I still share an apartment with [Kurt] Suzuki down there, so whenever my time comes, I'll be back there hanging out with him. [laughs]