OAKLAND -- No, it wasn't how he dreamed growing up, but Michael Choice gladly accepted the ball from his first Major League hit -- a dribbler toward the pitcher's mound that he beat out in Tuesday's 5-1 loss to the Rangers.
"It's not exactly how I drew it up," Choice said, smiling, "but I'll take it."
The hit came in just his second Major League game one day after walking in his first big league plate appearance. On Tuesday he got the start in right field, and he responded with a pair of highlight-worthy catches.
"He's a top prospect in our organization for a reason," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He's also here for a reason, so I've been impressed."
Choice, the 10th overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft and the A's No. 2 prospect as rated by MLB.com, batted a career-high .302 with 14 home runs and a career-high 89 RBIs in 132 games with the Triple-A River Cats this season and also had career highs in runs (90) and on-base percentage (.390).
"I wanted to elaborate kind of on where I left off in Sacramento," Choice said. "I was seeing the ball, swinging at pitches in the zone, and I wanted to stay right there."
It first appeared that Choice's callup was simply a reward for a productive Minor League season, but Melvin has proven early on that Choice's role with the team extends past that of the average September callup.
"I really didn't know the plan exactly coming in," Choice said. "Melvin told me I was here for a reason, to help this team and come in in spots where I could hit against left-handers, and I was prepared to do that.
"It puts me in a place where I know when I step on the field I'm out there because everybody believes I can make something happen, versus getting a pinch-hit up 7-1 in a random game. It kind of takes the pressure off."
With Norris' return, Melvin to juggle three catchers
OAKLAND -- Upon Derek Norris' expected return Thursday, A's manager Bob Melvin will be faced with an enviable problem.
Melvin will have three healthy catchers on his roster, two of which are used to playing every time a lefty's on the mound: Norris and Kurt Suzuki. Then there's Stephen Vogt, who will continue to start against right-handers.
"I think each of them bring certain attributes. It doesn't mean they're the same," Melvin said Wednesday. "We'll run what we feel is the best lineup on a particular day. Derek has swung the bat really well against left-handed pitching. Kurt's given us a nice bit of infusion and has swung the bat well and worked well with the pitchers.
"It's going to be a tough call when the lefty's out there, but it's a better problem to have than not enough guys."
Norris will be playing with a fractured left big toe that put him on the disabled list Aug. 23, retroactive to Aug. 21. On Wednesday he admitted he's "going to feel some pain, but it's manageable."
"It's not keeping me from doing anything," Norris assured. "I'm not going to be a liability for any reason. It's ready to go."
Norris' Minor League rehab numbers back this up. He went 6-for-14 (.429) with two home runs and four RBIs in a three-game assignment with Triple-A Sacramento, starting two games at catcher and one at designated hitter.
"He swung the bat really well," said Melvin. "He feels pretty good about where he is, and it was nice to get him some consistent at-bats down there, and for him to have the success he had as well, to give him confidence on his way back."
Norris, hitting .309/.406/.577 against lefties this season, could be back in the starting lineup as soon as Friday, when the Astros are slated to pitch southpaw Dallas Keuchel. Come Saturday's day game, with another lefty in Brett Oberholtzer going, Melvin would likely turn to Suzuki. Or, it could be the other way around.
"Like we have all year, the team is set up a particular way and designed to played a particular way," Melvin said, "and that's the way we'll do it. We'll monitor Derek as we go along. I was told he felt good."
No timetable on Reddick until he's able to take BP
OAKLAND -- A's outfielder Josh Reddick continues to progress in his rehab without feeling any pain in his sprained right wrist, but he's also no more close to taking batting practice on the field.
And the A's won't have any idea of a timetable for Reddick's return until he takes BP.
"He feels good," manager Bob Melvin said Wednesday. "As far as what he's doing in the cage, he's had no problems with it, with soft toss and tee work. When the training staff is comfortable letting him take batting practice on the field, we'll know more."
Reddick is eligible to be reinstated from the disabled list Tuesday, and he said earlier in the week he expects to be ready then. For now, the A's will continue to rotate Brandon Moss and Michael Choice in right field.
Moss has made each of his last eight starts in right field, entering the day batting .364 in that span.