Cust settles for return to A’s |

Cust settles for return to A’s

PHOENIX (AP) – Jack Cust would have liked to have been one of the early arrivals at the Oakland Athletics spring training camp but his new daughter, born Feb. 17, was a little more important.

Cust, who was a nontendered free agent in December, would also have liked to sign with a team closer to his home in Pennsylvania, but less than a month later he re-signed with the A’s.

“I didn’t know what free agency was going to be like,” Cust said. “It wasn’t a very good market. Unless you were one of the big talents, you had to take what you could get. There are a lot of good players without jobs right now.”

With the shrinking market, Cust thought it would be better not to wait. He’s been with the A’s the past 2 1/2 years and felt comfortable with them.

“I was trying to get closer to home but when it came down to it, there was the familiarity of being here and the relationship I have here with the guys,” Cust said. “I wasn’t willing to wait any longer.”

After kicking around five different organizations – including the A’s in 2005 – he made it to the big leagues to stay in May 2007, when the A’s obtained him from the San Diego Padres after Mike Piazza was hurt.

Cust hit eight home runs and drove in 20 over his first 13 games with the A’s.

He’s been a mainstay in the lineup ever since.

Cust joined the rest of his teammates Friday for the first official full-squad workout, and following the A’s busy offseason he thinks the team could be pretty good.

“Ben Sheets is a proven winner and he had good numbers in a hitter’s park,” Cust said. “He should put up good numbers in a pitcher-friendly park like Oakland. Coso Crisp and Rajai Davis can run and open things up and we have a young pitching staff that’s a year older.”

Cust took things easy on his first day, standing in the batter’s box and watching right-hander Vin Mazzaro throw strikes to catcher Josh Donaldson. In his younger days he may have tried to take a few whacks.

“You don’t find your timing until you take some at-bats in a game,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “The first day against pitchers the ball looks so fast. The speed is there. Once games start, whether it’s the adrenaline of playing or whatever, you can start to slow the ball down.”

With the birth of his second daughter, Cust wasn’t able to get much batting practice before heading for Arizona. That made his decision not to swing easy.

“I would have broken something, my hands, the bat,” Cust said. “I can wait.”

Cust’s role on the team will likely be limited to the designated hitter’s spot and some outfield. The A’s added outfielders Coco Crisp, Gabe Gross and Jake Fox to the mix that also includes holdovers Ryan Sweeney, Rajai Davis, Travis Buck and Cust.

He’ll be a little behind for a few days, though Geren said hitters have a tendency to catch up quickly.

“I go up there with a plan and look to hit what I want to hit,” Cust said. “I don’t go up swinging at everything; that’s when the trouble starts.”

Notes: Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson is expected in camp Saturday for a series of baserunning clinics with the A’s. … Geren emphasized the A’s successful late run in September and rallying from a 12-2 deficit in that stretch during the first team meeting of the spring. … Nonroster C Joel Galarraga remains the lone player absent from camp. He’s dealing with visa issues.