ANAHEIM – After seeing infielder Ryon Healy struggle through the first dozen games of the season, A’s manager Bob Melvin morphed into Dr. Melvin.
His prescription: A couple of days off.
The manager told both his player and the media he was just giving Healy a chance to step back, take a couple of deep breaths and get his game together.
Healy took the cure, taking a seat on the bench Monday and Tuesday with the Rangers in town. He’d been hearing all kinds of conflicting information, but he was able to dismiss most of it and just take his two-days-off medicine.
“I got advice from every single person in this clubhouse and every single person outside this clubhouse,” Healy said with a shake of his head. “It got to the point where I stopped searching for answers outside of my own being. I really had to get on my own side and start pulling on the same side of the rope.”
It turned out his manager was pulling on that side, too.
“The game was going too fast for me for a few weeks there,” Healy said in analysis. “I think it happens to everybody throughout the course of the season. Unfortunately for me, this was how I started the season. So having those two days to reevaluate and slow things back down I think it’s helped me be more successful now.”
How successful? He doubled as a pinch-hitter Monday, then singled and drove in a run pinch-hitting Tuesday.
He was back in the lineup Wednesday and he continues to crush the ball. He hit a two-run tie-breaking homer in the first inning Saturday to get the A’s off to their fifth consecutive win. On Sunday, when none of the Oakland bats showed life, Healy singled, doubled and scored the only A’s run.
So as the A’s prepare to open a three-game series in Anaheim against the Angels Tuesday night, Healy is back.
The fact that infielder began the season with a .170/.204/.340 slash line wasn’t lost on the rest of baseball. When the Astros were in town last week, nine-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger winner Carlos Beltran took Healy aside for a couple of quick words. Beltran was running while Healy was manning first base, and while the A’s were having a meeting on the mound in the fourth inning Beltran offered an observation.
“Beltran told me that last weekend that you have to love every step of the process,” Healy said. “That’s whether that’s sitting in here eating breakfast or doing Sudoku or if I’m in the cage getting my work in or if I’m in the game. I have to check all the boxes that I’m focused to be successful.”
He’s checking those boxes now. Healy has gone 11-for-21 with four runs, six RBI, four doubles and a homer to get his slash line to a more competitive .279/.319/.500. That’s an improvement of .109/.115/.160, not half bad.
To get his swing going, Healy took the counterintuitive approach by not swinging. He backed off and rediscovered his natural swing that had helped him become a third-round draft pick out of Oregon in 2013.
“I swung a lot less,” he summed up. “Before that, I’d just spent two weeks in the cage. I felt like I was searching for a mechanical issue. But it was just mental, my approach. It was a matter of being able to slow my body down, slow my mind down, slow my eyes down.
“That gives me the ability to swing at better pitches. I need to give myself better opportunities. I’m still not there. My timing is a little off here and there. It shows that there’s always room for improvement, and that’s what I continue to try to do.
“I needed more mental positivity.”
Thanks to Dr. Melvin’s medicine, it seems as if he’s found it.