Jack Cust hits grand slam, solo shot in first 2 spring at bats for Athletics
PHOENIX (AP)—Tired and still recovering from an illness that kept him out of the lineup the previous day, Jack Cust was smiling and appeared content. This year he knows he has a job in the major leagues.
Cust hit home runs in each of his first two at-bats and drove in five runs on Friday, a big start to the spring after a winter that included allegations of steroid use. The Oakland Athletics beat the Milwaukee Brewers 11-4.
“I haven’t been feeling well the last couple of days so I wasn’t expecting too much out of myself,” Cust said. “I wasn’t thinking about my swing; I wasn’t thinking about anything. I’ll have to try to do that more often.”
Cust’s name appeared in the Mitchell report, released in January. The slugger denied allegations he had spoken to minor league teammate Larry Bigbie about using steroids, and A’s general manager Billy Beane said he talked to Cust about the report and was satisfied with Cust’s response.
In the first inning, Cust hit a 2-0 fastball off David Bush into the gulley beyond the left field fence for a grand slam. He added a solo shot in the third off Manny Parra, a towering drive to right.
Cust knows he’ll be on the Opening Day roster with the A’s if he’s healthy, and it’s the first time he can say that. With the exception of 2004, the 29-year-old outfielder has began each of the past 11 seasons in the minors. He made the Baltimore Orioles Opening Day roster in 2004, but got one at bat before being sent down for the rest of the year.
“I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for a long time,” Cust said. “I’m grateful for the A’s; they never really tried to change my swing. I’m excited about playing from Opening Day on.”
Bobby Crosby also homered for the A’s, while Greg Gross hit a home run for the Brewers.
Closer Eric Gagne made his Brewers debut and gave up three runs and four hits in one inning.
“I’m out there to get in shape,” Bush said. “I don’t put a whole lot of stock in results. It was the first time in a real game situation and I felt loose mechanically.”
Bush allowed four hits, walked a batter and recorded a strikeout. Parra followed with two innings, giving up the home run, walking one and striking out one.
Braden and DiNardo are both contenders to join the A’s starting rotation.