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Semien back at full health, swinging hot bat

A's shortstop missed half of last season after wrist surgery
Special to MLB.com

MESA, Ariz. -- A's shortstop Marcus Semien was healthy enough to play when he returned from wrist surgery last season. He wants to make that much clear. But just playing and succeeding at a high level are two different things.

Semien estimates he was at about 90 percent by season's end, some 5 1/2 months after surgery to repair a fracture of the scaphoid bone and three months after he returned from the disabled list.

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MESA, Ariz. -- A's shortstop Marcus Semien was healthy enough to play when he returned from wrist surgery last season. He wants to make that much clear. But just playing and succeeding at a high level are two different things.

Semien estimates he was at about 90 percent by season's end, some 5 1/2 months after surgery to repair a fracture of the scaphoid bone and three months after he returned from the disabled list.

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"I was able to compete with what I had last year -- the bone was healed -- it was just about getting the reps and getting the scar tissue out of there," Semien said this week.

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It's no wonder then that he hit .231 in his final 27 games after a productive .283 in August and .262 in July.

"I was thinking about my wrist and if it would hurt instead of just trying to compete against some of the best pitchers in the game," he said. "It wasn't until the offseason that I felt like I was all the way back. Now I'm just able to focus on competing."

A's Spring Training info

That tunneled focus has produced a fast start this spring. Semien has 11 hits in his first 22 Cactus League at-bats for a .500 average, and some of those outs were hit hard.

He had a pair of singles and a sacrifice fly -- robbed of a third hit into the right-center gap by Angels star Mike Trout -- on Thursday in a 7-3 win over the Angels at Hohokam Stadium.

"You'd like to see guys start to get hot the last week or so heading into the season," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "But he seems to be swinging the bat really well now. From the minute he got here, it looked like he's comfortable with his mechanics."

Semien admitted he actually wasn't comfortable heading into his first game last month, after the usual time between the report date and Cactus League play was condensed this year. He had two hits that first game.

"Once you hit a couple balls hard, you get comfortable," Semien said. "I'm just working on timing right now, and it's going good. You always want to get hits. I've been working on timing and rhythm and swing path. So when all those things work together, hopefully to get some line drives and some hits."

Semien hit .247 with 42 home runs in his first two seasons with the A's before the wrist injury robbed him of almost half of the 2017 season. He had career highs of 27 homers, 75 RBIs and a .735 OPS in 2016.

"He's not a guy we're really worried about," Melvin said. "He's fully healthy now, and I know he wants to have a big year."

Chris Gabel is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Athletics on Thursday.

Oakland Athletics, Marcus Semien