Ejection adds to Donaldson's recent run of frustration
Third baseman, in 0-for-31 slump, tossed late in A's win over Yankees
OAKLAND -- Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson should be enjoying himself right now.
But he can't.
A year after being left out of the All-Star Game -- not only overlooked by fans, but also in the vote of players and Major League officials when they filled out the roster -- he is leading the fan voting at his position this time. In the latest results announced last Sunday, he had more than double the total of Evan Longoria of Tampa Bay, who is second in American League voting at third base.
Right now, though, all the votes can't ease the frustrations.
Donaldson is in the worst slump of his career.
How bad is it?
Well, the slide that began after his first-inning home run at Baltimore back on June 6 reached the 0-for-31 status with four more hitless at-bats in the A's 5-1 victory over the Yankees at O.co Coliseum on Saturday night.
And Saturday night was capped off by Donaldson's pop up to the catcher for the second out in the bottom of the seventh, and an ejection by home-plate umpire Hal Gibson before he got back into the field in the top of the eighth.
A moment of frustration?
"I just asked the guy a question," said Donaldson. "That's it. I didn't think I deserved to be thrown out. I never raised my voice."
But then, right now, not much has gone Donaldson's way.
It's not merely an 0-for-31 he is in, which has seen his average drop from .282 to .250. It's an 0-for-31 in which he has struck out 10 times and hit only four balls out of the infield.
"I'll leave that one alone," hitting coach Chili Davis said when asked about Donaldson's challenge.
It's an 0-for-31 in which 30 of the at-bats have come since that incident in Baltimore in the third inning on June 6 when Orioles third baseman Manny Machado took exception to the way he was tagged out by Donaldson on an inning-ending fielder's choice.
"I try to get a good swing at pitches, and I get a couple good ones, but not on a consistent basis," Donaldson said.
It's an 0-for-31 in which he hasn't even drawn a walk, although in his first plate appearance after the Machado play, he was hit by a pitch. That was followed up by a strikeout in his final at-bat that game, and in all four at-bats the next day.
"Even if that bothered him for a game or two, it is way in the past now," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "[The slump] has nothing to do with that."
It's an 0-for-31 that on Monday night in Anaheim saw Donaldson commit a career-high three errors.
"I just want to go out and help the team win," said Donaldson.
And the A's are 4-4 during the eight-game challenge Donaldson has faced.
It's not like Donaldson is the first hitter to ever face a slump.
It's part of the game.
"I lived in a slump," Melvin said of his career.
It's not easy living, not for a guy like Donaldson, who plays with an edge, changing minds of all the doubters who questioned whether he'd be a big leaguer, much less an All-Star.
He pushes himself at every step, focused so much on being successful.
And now this.
"It does seem to last a lot longer [than a hot streak]," admitted Davis. "It's in your head."
The challenge is for Donaldson to clear his head.
There's always the debate of whether it's a good idea to give a slumping hitter a day or two off.
"We tried that one the other day, but [Alberto Callaspo] was ill," Melvin said of Wednesday's game in Anaheim when Donaldson had to replace Callaspo midway into the game.
Now Callaspo is away on a paternity leave, but the A's did call up infielder Andy Parrino to take his roster spot, which does create the possibility that in Sunday's series finale with the Yankees, Parrino could be in the lineup at third.
But Melvin also has to weigh the idea that the Yankees will be starting rookie left-hander Vidal Nuno in the finale, and Donaldson has hit .297 with seven home runs in 64 at-bats against left-handed pitchers this season, and was 1-for-2 against Nuno at Yankee Stadium on June 4.
Donaldson is, however, 0-for-7 against lefties in his slump, including that popup against the David Huff that preceded the ejection on Saturday.
"He's going to come out of it," said Melvin. "We know that."
It's not whether, but when, that remains the unanswered question.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.