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09/16/2008 8:03 PM ET
Denorfia hoping to open A's eyes
River Cats' spark plug overcomes surgery, back injury
Chris Denorfia has hit .486 with four homers, six RBIs and 12 runs scored in eight playoff games.  (Sacramento River Cats)

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- When the Athletics acquired Chris Denorfia from Cincinnati in April 2007, they had no real way of knowing what they'd be getting in return. Denorfia was just days removed from Tommy John surgery at the time of the deal and there are no guarantees coming back from any kind of surgery, particularly such a drastic and invasive procedure.

The folks in Oakland were hopeful, though, that the year off wouldn't do much, if anything, to erode Denorfia's considerable skills. He was, after all, named Cincinnati's Minor League Player of the Year in 2005, a season that saw him play on three levels, including making his Major League debut.

Denorfia successfully returned this year for the A's, earning a spot on the Major League roster out of Spring Training. He hit .260 through 50 at-bats over 25 games before a back injury landed him on the disabled list in early May. When he returned, the club optioned him to Triple-A Sacramento, a move that didn't come as a surprise to the former 19th-round draft pick.

"I missed all of last year, so it was important for me to get some consistent at-bats," Denorfia said. "It wouldn't have been the case had I stayed up there."

Odds are that Sacramento wouldn't be playing in Tuesday's Bricktown Showdown had Denorfia not been part of the mix in August. He hit .320 in 23 games that month with 10 RBIs and 19 runs scored. He had 12 multi-hit games during the month as Sacramento went 21-10 to secure a berth in the Pacific Coast League playoffs.

Denorfia continued to shine in the postseason, hitting .486 (17-for-35) with four homers, six RBIs and 12 runs scored in eight playoff games as Sacramento captured its second consecutive PCL crown.

"I don't know what was going on there," he said. "For the amount of days off that we had in between games for such an extended period of time, it's hard to keep it going like that. But you're thinking about what you're playing for. You don't think about what you're doing until it's all over."

And if anyone in Oakland was wondering whether Denorfia had truly recovered from Tommy John surgery or the back problems that plagued him earlier this season, all they had to do was look at what he did to Salt Lake (.579, three homers, four RBIs) and Oklahoma (.375, two RBIs).

"I hope I opened some eyes up," Denorfia said. "We all play to stick in the big leagues. It was a little bit harder than I thought it would be once I got there. Hopefully, they [the A's] will keep me in mind with their plans for next year."

This and that: Oakland officially called up Travis Buck on Tuesday. Sacramento replaced him on the roster with LHP Lenny DiNardo, who had been on the disabled list since Sept. 3 with a sore left groin. The two moves were the 189th and 190th of the season, tying a River Cats' franchise record set last year. A total of 66 players (36 pitchers) have played for Sacramento this year.

Kevin Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.