A lingering left shoulder injury has held Jason Christian back in his first two full seasons of professional ball and sent him off the course of other 2008 A's draft picks who have progressed through the system.
Fortunately for Christian, he's nearing two months of being injury-free and is providing a steady bat in the Cougar lineup. The former fifth-round pick out of Michigan has eight hits in his last 18 at-bats and has seen his average rise to .280 over 47 games in Kane County.
Christian has played a utility role of sorts for Kane County, getting regular playing time while playing third base, shortstop and second base.
"It's just nice to be back after taking five weeks off with an injury in Stockton," Christian said.
"I'm getting my at-bats here and getting back in the swing of things. The timing at the plate is coming around and I'm getting that stroke back. I struggled early on, but timing is everything in hitting and it took a while."
It's the first run of good luck that Christian's had in a while after suffering a separated shoulder last July which sidelined him for the rest of the 2009 season.
He started slowly in Stockton this spring, posting a line of .162/.295/.458 before re-injuring his surgically repaired shoulder. Christian rehabbed in the Arizona Rookie League and mustered just two hits in 12 at-bats before the A's sent him out for a repeat season at Low-A.
"It was definitely frustrating coming off of surgery last year and then getting hurt so early in the season in April," he said. "It was a long process to be back, so I'm happy to be here. My shoulder's feeling good and I haven't had any pain with it. I'm continuing to rehab with it and keep it strong."
Although his stint in the California League with Stockton was brief, Christian said it was a positive and gives him something to shoot for next spring.
"It was a good experience," he said. "I wasn't there very long, but it was fun while I was there. We were starting to play really well. It was unfortunate that I haven't made it back, but I'm working hard every day to get back.
"You never know what's going to happen in the minors. You could be there tomorrow or could never be there, so you just keep working and let the chips fall where they may."
Enjoying an everyday role with a clean bill of health, the 23-year old is focused on being a leader in the clubhouse and helping steer the Cougars into the Midwest League playoffs.
"The team is definitely good enough to be in the playoffs and win the whole thing," he said. "I have a lot of confidence in our ability to play well in all aspects of the game."