OAKLAND -- When the A's acquired Daric Barton in the Mark Mulder trade in December 2004, general manager Billy Beane labeled Barton "the best pure bat in the Minor Leagues."
That's some heady stuff for a 19-year-old. Though he played 140 games with the A's in 2008, Barton shuttled back and forth between Oakland and Triple-A Sacramento in 2009, playing in 54 big league contests over three stints.
This season, Barton, 24, is developing into the batter the A's envisioned and has become a legit everyday player. Heading into Monday's game, Barton's 58 games played were tied for the most in the Majors.
Barton's 39 walks were tied for the third-most in the American League, while his .397 on-base percentage was tops on the team and sixth-best in the AL. Barton is batting .281 with four home runs and 22 RBIs and is tied for the most sacrifice hits in the league (eight).
"He's just kind of maturing into the Major Leagues," manager Bob Geren said. "He wasn't that type of player his whole career in the Minor Leagues, but we expected that type of performance from him. He's matching the expectations we had of him."
Barton, originally drafted as a catcher, started to get extensive playing time at first base with Class A Stockton in 2005. Since then, Geren said Barton's defense has evolved well.
"He's done such a good job over there at first base," Geren said. "It's real pleasure to watch him play because we have a real solid defensive team. When you have a first baseman that has the range he does and handles the balls around the base that he does, it makes the other three infielders even better."
Chavez takes swings with A's pitchers
OAKLAND -- Before Monday's series opener against the Angels, A's pitchers Trevor Cahill and Tyson Ross were taking cuts in the batting cage in preparation for the team's first road trip to National League ballparks.
The A's will play in San Francisco on Friday to start a three-game set, before heading to play the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. Cahill isn't scheduled to pitch in the Giants series and will make his season debut in the batter's box at Wrigley Field.
Joining the two right-handers was Eric Chavez, who is trying to recover from two bulging disks in his neck. Chavez, who spent nearly two weeks at his Arizona home resting, said he was planning to meet with A's head athletic trainer Steve Sayles and the coaching staff Monday to create a plan for his recovery.
"We're just going to come up with a schedule; we're going to stick to it," Chavez said. "I don't forsee any issues coming up. I'm just going to go rehab it, starting playing games and we're really just going to evaluate as we go along."
Chavez, 32, has been on the 15-day disabled list since May 22. He said he doesn't plan on doing anything but swinging the bat for the time being, but that he hopes to eventually take some ground balls.
A's manager Bob Geren reiterated the tentative plan is for Chavez to work out with the A's until they head to Chicago for Tuesday's three-game set.
Davis recalls Draft as A's take Choice
OAKLAND -- About two hours before Monday's first pitch, as a group of A's hitters took batting practice, almost all the players shagging balls in the outfield stopped what they were doing and looked up at the stadium's big screen.
The reason: Commissioner Bud Selig announced the A's had drafted Michael Choice with the No. 10 pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
Choice, an outfielder from the University of Texas in Arlington, led the country with 76 walks in 60 games and had the nation's second-best on-base percentage (.568). He hit .383 with 16 home runs and 59 RBIs and reached base 72 consecutive games dating back to 2009.
Among the A's who stopped to stare was outfielder Rajai Davis. Selected in the 38th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2001, Davis is the latest Draft pick on Oakland's active roster.
Eric Chavez (1996 by Oakland) and Monday's starter, Ben Sheets (1999 by Milwaukee), are the team's highest Draft picks, both selected at No. 10 overall.
Leading up to the '01 Draft, Davis said the Pirates were the only organization that had expressed an interest in him. From his conversations with the team and scout Charlie Sullivan, Davis said he was expecting to be drafted in the top 10 rounds.
"My biggest thing was just getting an opportunity to play. And that's what I got," Davis said. "It's a business and you really find out early that it's a business."
Davis said he experimented with switch-hitting upon playing in short-season rookie ball in 2001, but that it was too hard to learn something new in the professional ranks.
In 2002, Davis flourished in his first full professional season, winning the Gulf Coast Rookie League batting title with a .384 average. Davis said that team, which also featured current big league pitchers Zach Duke and Matt Capps, won 16 games in a row.
Davis eventually made his Major League debut on Aug. 14, 2006, with the Pirates and hasn't played in a Minor League game since 2007.
Rosales makes rare start at shortstop
OAKLAND -- Shortstop Cliff Pennington, batting .207 and mired in a 3-for-39 slump, was out of the starting lineup for the second time in four contests on Monday, benched in favor of utility man Adam Rosales.
Asked if he has considered making Rosales an everyday player, manager Bob Geren responded, "He's the kind of guy you want to play a lot, that's for sure. I always look for ways to get him in there."
Rosales is batting .280 with four home runs and 21 RBIs this season and has started at five different positions.
Geren said Pennington will be back in the starting lineup on Tuesday, but that second baseman Mark Ellis may need a day off soon.
Jake Fox made his fifth start of the year in left field on Monday, in place of Gabe Gross, who had started the previous 13 games in left. Over that span, Gross batted .333 with a home run and four RBIs.
"Fox played a lot of left field in Chicago last year in place of [Alfonso] Soriano when he was on the [disabled list]," Geren said. "He does a fine job out there."
Geren also shuffled around the middle of his lineup a bit Monday, starting Ryan Sweeney in the No. 6 hole for the first time all year. Catcher Kurt Suzuki, meanwhile, hit in Sweeney's usual No. 3 spot, followed by Kevin Kouzmanoff and Rosales.
A's hitting coach Skaalen ejected
OAKLAND -- A's hitting coach Jim Skaalen was ejected by home plate umpire Eric Cooper in the sixth inning of Monday's game against the Angels.
His team losing, 4-0, Skaalen was tossed after Cooper called a strike during an at-bat by Angels first baseman Mike Napoli.
Skaalen appeared to yell back at Cooper after he was ejected, and A's manager Bob Geren came on to the field and argued with Cooper for about two minutes.
Skaalen joined the A's in 2009 after spending two seasons as the Milwaukee Brewers' hitting coach. It was his second ejection with Oakland.
Rajai Davis left Monday's game with tightness in his left hamstring and was replaced by Eric Patterson in center field in the seventh inning. Davis grabbed his left hamstring upon reaching third base after his fifth-inning triple. ... A's manager Bob Geren said Justin Duchscherer underwent surgery on his injured left hip Monday. Duchscherer's recovery time is expected to be four to six months, costing him the rest of the 2010 season. ... Geren said outfielder Coco Crisp (rib muscle strain) is scheduled to play in an intrasquad game in Phoenix on June 14. Geren said Crisp could be sent on a Minor League rehab assignment after that.
Alex Espinoza is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.