Cust seems to be finding his groove
Extra time with hitting coach helped lead to two homers Friday
OAKLAND -- The word was Jack Cust was coming and with a pair of homers on Friday night, the prognosis proved on target.
The A's left fielder and part-time designated hitter has not felt completely comfortable or consistent in the batter's box for most of the season and the numbers point to downright struggles this year. Cust hit .188 with one homer and seven RBIs in April, but followed that with a month of May that produced a .303 average, seven homers and a .431 on-base percentage.
Despite going deep 11 times over June and July, Cust hit near the .200 mark in both months. But in August, Cust has pushed the needle back in a positive direction by hitting .289 and getting on base at a customary clip of 41 percent.
Extra time with hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo has begun to pay off.
"I haven't felt good all year, just kind of in and out," Cust said. "Yesterday, [Van Burkleo] said a couple of things that made sense to me and I just kind of took that into the game and it felt good. Everything is a feeling and my swing felt good. I got good pitches to hit so it was a combination of all that."
Cust said the adjustment was less on the swing and more on the set up. Van Burkleo has guided Cust to keeping his weight back and to use his legs more to keep the swing less rotational and allow him to keep the bat in the hitting zone longer.
He responded on Friday by going 3-for-3 with two home runs and a walk while also avoiding a strikeout on his line for the first time in 19 games.
"[Van Burkleo has] been telling me for a week now that he's coming and he's feeling good," manager Bob Geren said of Cust's recent work in the cage. "That is a real positive sign and he showed it."
Cust was acquired from the Padres last season, but has known Van Burkleo for several years, dating back to 2000 when both were with the Diamondbacks organization.
"He was my hitting coach in Double-A so we have a good relationship," Cust said. "He works hard and he's there for us."
Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.