OAKLAND — Ryon Healy is over the whole “designated hitter” storyline.
He enjoys talking about it like someone would enjoy settling into a dentist’s chair for a root canal. Whether he realizes it or not, however, Healy is finding the best way to put the whole topic to rest.
If he keeps hitting the way he did Monday night — while serving as the A’s DH against Toronto — there will be no need to ask about adjustments, difficulties or challenges of not playing a defensive position.
For the second time in three days, Healy blasted two homers in a game. He also drove in all five of Oakland’s runs in a 5-3 victory over the Blue Jays. The only relevant storyline at this point seems to be that Healy can hit, regardless of whether he’s playing third base, first base or serving as DH, which has been his primary job in his first full major league season.
“You guys like to talk about it, everybody likes to talk about it,” Healy said. “I don’t really care what the role is. I need to be physically and mentally prepared so I can have success whatever the situation may be.”
He rattles off the right kind of responses like a veteran, stressing preparation and a willingness to do whatever the team needs. Those around Healy know the truth though. He does desire to grab his glove every day and have a reason to use it.
“He can hit,” manager Bob Melvin said, “and he’s semi-acclimating to the DH role now, which he doesn't want to admit to because he wants to be in the field, obviously.”
Melvin joked that he was thinking of having someone hit ground balls to Healy in the clubhouse during his down time, just to keep him from wrapping his mind too tightly around each and every at-bat.
Healy broke into a laugh when he heard that.
“He jokes about that,” Healy said. “But I was seriously playing ‘Wall Ball’ with myself in Houston. I had to go down the tunnel and I was throwing the ball against the wall. I felt like a 5-year-old kid that was in a timeout.”
That’s as much as he’ll dive into detail about his adjustments. Before the game, Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar, one of Healy’s closest friends in the majors and a workout partner in offseasons past, talked about the communication the two maintain even as they’re playing on opposite sides of the country.
“Just little texts back and forth,” Pillar said. “I think I know his swing. He knows mine. … He’s had to deal with some adversity this year to adjust to that DH role.”
But now Healy seems to be settling in. Twenty-eight of his 54 starts have come as the DH this season. Over his past 29 games, he’s hitting .333 (38-for-114) with 10 homers. For the season, Healy is batting .284 with 13 home runs and 33 RBI.
First baseman Yonder Alonso notices a hitter whose confidence and comfort level continue to grow.
“The best thing about him is he’s able to turn the page, whether a good day or a bad day, and he comes prepared every day,” Alonso said. “He’s always asking questions, trying to learn and get better.”
Left fielder Khris Davis left the game in the eighth inning with calf tightness. Melvin said Davis would be re-evaluated Tuesday.