Esteury Ruiz

Ruiz blasts homer in A's return after odd Triple-A demotion

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The Athletics wanted Esteury Ruiz to work on his hitting in the minor leagues, and it appears the speedy outfielder did just that.

Oakland recalled Ruiz from Triple-A Las Vegas before Monday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals at the Coliseum, exactly two weeks after his surprising demotion. Before he was sent down, Ruiz hit .429 with a double and triple against the Cleveland Guardians in the A's opening series.

In Monday's 3-1 loss to St. Louis, Ruiz got right back to work as he pinch hit for Lawrence Butler in the eighth inning, blasting a solo home run to left field that gave Oakland its lone run of the game.

Shortly after Ruiz was sent down, A's manager Mark Kotsay explained they wanted the 25-year-old, who broke the AL rookie record for stolen bases in 2023, to have an opportunity to lead off and play every day in Vegas. After Monday's loss, Kotsay complimented the adjustments Ruiz has made.

"Great at-bat," Kotsay told reporters after the game. "Like we talked about pregame, I've continued to follow him [in Triple-A]. The swing is definitely looking better, more direct and the result was exactly what [happens] when you take good swing on a ball in the middle that he's capable of doing.

"So that's a good sign."

Ruiz was the lone bright spot amid a game where Cardinals ace and former A's pitcher Sonny Gray blanked Oakland across six frames. For the home team, Ross Stripling surrendered all three of St Louis' earned runs in 5 2/3 innings pitched.

While Ruiz's solo blast might have inspired thoughts of a comeback for an A's team that has won three consecutive series for the first time since 2021, the Cardinals' two-run lead proved too large to overcome. Still, Ruiz was glad to see some of the adjustments he has made to his mechanics and stance pay off despite the loss.

"I went down there [to Triple-A] trying to work on the stuff that I need to be working on as soon as I got there," Ruiz told reporters through a translator after Monday's game. "... It's coming out, all the work I've been putting in. I'm just trying to improve to be better.

"It's getting there."

In 43-at-bats in Triple-A, Ruiz hit .326 with three home runs, eight RBI and, of course, seven stolen bases.

Ruiz recalled feeling "sad" about his demotion, but said he's just happy to be playing baseball at all and hopes to keep working hard no matter what level he's at.

The A's, with plenty of season left, currently sit in third place in the AL West with a 7-10 record, and they'll need all the help they can get to improve upon their 112-loss campaign in 2023.

After Ruiz provided a spark for the struggling team last season, it's clear he's capable of doing just that again for Oakland after his electric return to the Coliseum.

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