Pache adjusting at plate to reclaim spot as A's center fielder


During his first season with the Athletics last year, Cristian Pache's glove was never in question.

But in 91 games, his bat couldn't catch up, and that's something the 24-year-old outfielder has made a point to improve this year during spring training.

Pache now is out of minor league options and isn't just trying to remain in Oakland's outfield mix as its main center fielder -- he's fighting for a spot on the A's Opening Day roster.

“I am getting the opportunity,” Pache told reporters through interpreter and former A’s catcher Ramón Hernández this week (h/t Cole Bradley of The Mercury News). “I’m going out there to play good, play the best I can. I am good, I am feeling great and I’m just trying to do the best I can do with the opportunity.”

A's manager Mark Kotsay told reporters Pache has made improvements at the plate this spring, mainly taking a more disciplined approach into the box, but that he also brought his same, infectious personality and show-stopping defense back with him as well.

The outfielder is tied for the team lead in hits (12) with infielder Kevin Smith, and his 26.9-percent strikeout rate from 2022 has improved to 0.86 percent in camp.

After a .166 batting average last season and one demotion to Triple-A, Pache this spring is keeping pace with Estuary Ruiz, his main competition in center. Pache has erupted to a .353 average in camp with seven RBI while patrolling the outfield grass with his typical prowess.

"I think it’s just a matter of not seeing the results,” Kotsay said of Pache’s 2022 season (h/t Bradley). “That’s what this game is about at the major league level. It’s about performance and it’s about results. I think [Pache] understands that, but I’ve never lost confidence in the player.

“I know how hard the game is, playing it for 17 years. I know there’s going to be periods of time where you struggle and it’s hard to make that adjustment.”

Through the ups and downs of last season, Pache told reporters it never impacted his confidence or positive outlook on the game. And that has helped him enter this season with an airtight mental approach.

"I’ve got a strong mindset," Pache said. "If you’ve got a weak mindset, then that might eat you. But no matter what I was going through, I’m a really strong mindset guy and that’s stuff I can control. That’s all that I can control is myself and work and go out and try to do my best.”

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At spring training's end, Pache either will be placed on waivers or make the Opening Day roster. And despite some stiff competition from the speedy Ruiz, Pache is only concerned about one person.

“I don’t think about it as a competition,” Pache said. “I just go out and compete with myself.”

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