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Walking the walk (Cont.)

Posted: Tuesday May 30, 2006 2:14PM; Updated: Tuesday May 30, 2006 2:14PM
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Getting his strut back

Swisher has been all smiles during the first two months of the '06 season.
Swisher has been all smiles during the first two months of the '06 season.

Swisher exploded onto the national scene in April, hitting .313 with 10 jacks and 24 RBIs. Although he has cooled down a bit in May, Swisher still paces the A's offense from the No. 2 spot in the order.

"His growth rate has accelerated probably beyond our expectations," Beane said. "We all really hoped he'd get to this, but I don't think anyone would have foreseen him jumping out to this kind of start at this stage in his career."

Swisher is not arbitration eligible until after next season. Beane is fully confident he'll be wearing an A's uniform for a long time.

"We're in no danger of losing him or not being able to afford him any time soon, that's for sure," Beane said.

Swisher credits a new outlook for his sophomore success.

"Last year my highs were a little high and my lows were a little low," Swisher said. "My old man's been telling me for years, 'Just keep everything on an even keel.'"

Thomas hammers home Steve Swisher's fatherly advice on a daily basis and tutors the young slugger on "the game within the game." The education has paid off, as Oakland's clubhouse is abuzz with talk of Swisher's maturation.

According to teammates, Swisher's most significant development has been embracing his signature strut.

"He's not a rookie anymore and he can kind of be his outgoing self," said A's closer Huston Street, who lives in a house with Swisher and starting pitchers Joe Blanton and Rich Harden. "He definitely talks the talk, but I think this year he's walking the walk as well."

Funny thing is, the strut seems to be the only topic that makes Swisher quiver.

"I'm trying to lose it, because I don't want to be known as one of those guys," Swisher said in a wavering West Virginia drawl. "But I guess it's kind of me. I just love this game so much. I guess when I'm out there, all I want to do is have fun."

This is something his guru fully endorses.

"I tell him to just stay focused, continue to have fun and play the game like you know how to play it," Thomas said.