ARLINGTON -- In acquiring Stephen Drew in a non-waiver deal with the D-backs in late August, the A's were heavily questioned as to whether the pickup really represented an offensive upgrade.
Five weeks later, it turns out the move was a good one, after all. Drew, who was limited to 40 games in Arizona after spending much of the season rehabbing his surgically repaired right ankle, is heating up at just the right time, as the A's push toward their first postseason appearance in six years.
The 29-year-old shortstop entered Thursday's series finale in Texas with a .360 average, three home runs and seven RBIs over his previous 11 games, following a nine-game stretch that resulted in a .133 mark. Overall, he's hitting .270 with four homers and 14 RBIs in 32 games with Oakland, after struggling to the tune of a .193 average while still in Arizona.
More recently, Drew has enjoyed a pair of four-hit games in the last five days, the most recent coming Wednesday from the top of the lineup in the A's big win over the Rangers.
"I think he's really just in the swing of things now," manager Bob Melvin said. "Coming back from that injury, not playing every day, kind of fighting through the thoughts you still have of a dramatic injury like that, now he's just playing like himself every day and on top of that getting some hits. I think this is kind of like the middle of the season for him. He's kind of just coming into his own, and good timing for it."
Even more so with Coco Crisp still out with pink eye. The outfielder's absence has caused much lineup shuffling in the last week, but Drew's presence in Crisp's usual leadoff spot has eased the burden of being without one of the game's top table setters. Moreover, Drew has quickly found comfort on the field, where he and second baseman Cliff Pennington, who shifted from shortstop upon Drew's arrival, have seamlessly combined to produce an impressive double-play combo.
"It doesn't look like he's lost anything, as far as his step," Melvin said. "He's always been a very solid defender, and he understands the position very well. I think him and Penny have done a great job."
A's lefty Brett Anderson, nursing a strained right oblique, played catch for the first time since the injury on Thursday, making 20 throws at 60 feet and 15 at 75 feet without any issues.
Assuming Anderson continues progressing at this pace without any setbacks, he could very well be available during the early rounds if the A's make the postseason.
Melvin deemed Crisp, who is still dealing with pink eye, "a little better" on Thursday. He hasn't started 10 of the club's last 11 games.
"We're hoping for tomorrow," Melvin said. "I'm hopeful every day."
Yoenis Cespedes was slotted into Thursday's lineup at designated hitter, as Melvin looked to keep the outfielder off his feet as he continues to deal with a bruised bone on the bottom of his right foot.