Ports' Russell nabs three hits in return

A's top prospect missed 10 games with injured right thumb

By Josh Jackson / MiLB.com | July 28, 2013 9:08 PM ET

Addison Russell enjoyed a two thumbs-up return to the Stockton Ports on Sunday.

The A's top prospect went 3-for-4 with a double, a walk and two runs scored in his first game in a week and a half, sparking the Ports to a 4-2 win over San Jose at Banner Island Ballpark.

Russell's thumb began hurting during a July 17 game against Rancho Cucamonga. After an 11th-inning at-bat, the pain became too much to ignore.

"Throughout the day, whenever I was swinging at pitches, it felt like my thumb was jamming," he said. "It was really the last at-bat that took a toll though. The trainer pulled me out and had me start doing treatments.

"I was doing about everything I normally I do. I was lifting, doing upper body, lower body, conditioning. ... The last thing on the list was being able to get swings in, making sure I'd be ready. That went well enough, so tonight they let me play."

The injury came after Russell participated in the All-Star Futures Game and interrupted a hot streak in the California League. The 19-year-old shortstop was hitting .322 since the end of May, and he's hit safely in nine of his last 10 games, including four multiple-hit performances.

He didn't pick up exactly where he left off, striking out in his first at-bat Sunday against Giants starter Jason Forjet.

"I just wanted to see the ball a little better. I missed a few a pitches and he got me looking," Russell said. "There was nothing I could really do about that at-bat, but the rest of the day, I saw the ball well."

Russell singled in the third inning and again in the fourth, each time off Forjet. And he knew he was back on track.

"It definitely gave me a little more confidence throughout the day," the 2012 first-round pick said. "I felt super-confident in my last at-bat, the one when I walked. That's what the trainer wanted me to do: make sure my thumb was better so that I'd feel confident up there."

He felt good, too, during his sixth inning at-bat against reliever Danny Sandbrink.

"Basically, I was just looking for a fastball and he started me off with a curveball," Russell said. "When I got a fastball, I hit it up the left-field line for a double."

He had just one chance in the field, handling it flawlessly.

"I felt fine," he said. "I didn't get that many plays, but I felt fine."

After being reduced to a cheerleader, though, he was grateful to get any play at all.

"I was just sitting in the dugout, cheering on my teammates, and they did the same thing for me tonight," he said. "But being anxious to get back out there and play, those days were long, whenever I was just doing treatments."

B.A. Vollmuth homered for the Ports, who got seven strong innings from Tanner Peters (10-5). The 22-year-old right-hander struck out seven and gave up two runs on four hits and a walk.

Josh Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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