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Fowler using extra at-bats to perfect timing

A's prospect playing in intrasquad, Minor League, Cactus League games
Special to MLB.com

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Before Dustin Fowler arrived at A's camp this spring, the last time he stood in the batter's box against live pitching was June 27, 2017. So he certainly has some time to make up for.

Between Cactus League appearances -- which are beginning to become more frequent -- Fowler heads to the afternoon intrasquad games at the organization's Fitch Park Minor League complex. On Tuesday, he had six at-bats, hitting each half-inning.

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PEORIA, Ariz. -- Before Dustin Fowler arrived at A's camp this spring, the last time he stood in the batter's box against live pitching was June 27, 2017. So he certainly has some time to make up for.

Between Cactus League appearances -- which are beginning to become more frequent -- Fowler heads to the afternoon intrasquad games at the organization's Fitch Park Minor League complex. On Tuesday, he had six at-bats, hitting each half-inning.

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"Every at-bat counts," said Fowler, who is 2-for-13 in five Cactus League games after a 1-for-2 showing in Wednesday's 7-3 win over the Mariners. "I still feel like I'm a little behind. But every at-bat I feel like I'm getting better."

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Fowler, the A's No. 5 prospect per MLB Pipeline, ruptured the patella tendon in his right knee when he slammed into the right-field wall at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago last summer. His season ended one inning into his Major League debut.

Fowler's defense has returned to its pre-injury state, and the explosiveness to his first step is nearly there as well -- he easily stole second base against the Mariners for his first steal of the spring. But his timing in the batter's box is lagging, and the only way to find it is to step in and see pitching.

Video: Top Prospects: Dustin Fowler, OF, A's

"It's going to take some time," manager Bob Melvin said. "He hasn't played in a while."

Fowler's goal is to get to where he no longer hastens his hands in trying to meet incoming fastballs.

"I'm taking the pitches I need to, and swinging at the pitches I want to," Fowler said. "It's just getting the timing on the fastball so that I'm not fouling them off or being just late enough to where I'm missing it."

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Fowler has struck out six times in his 13 Cactus League at-bats.

"At this point, I think it's just about having that one good game, and I'll take off," Fowler said. "I have to take it slow. You don't want to rush things and panic a bit. I just need that one at-bat where I take a couple tough pitches, and then square up a ball and really relax, take a deep breath. It'll be fine."

Until then, Fowler will continue to get reps in intrasquad and Minor League games.

"I'll go over there pretty much every chance I get," Fowler said.

Injury updates
Third baseman Renato Nunez and reliever Ryan Dull are progressing, but neither is particularly close to returning to game action.

Nunez (left hamstring) had the day off Wednesday and will continue in his running progression on Thursday, Melvin said. Dull (right shoulder) threw on flat ground from 90 feet.

Chris Gabel is a contributor to MLB.com.

Oakland Athletics, Dustin Fowler