NEW YORK -- The strikeouts are piling up for a suddenly struggling Seth Smith, but A's manager Bob Melvin lent his outfielder a vote of confidence on Sunday by placing him in the lineup as the only lefty against Yankees southpaw Andy Pettitte.
"He feels a lot better today. He's had a little illness," Melvin said. "Whether that's affected him or not, I don't know. But based on our lefties, he's the guy that has the best numbers against lefties. He'll take a bad swing every now and then, but he is able to regroup."
Smith, who went 0-for-4 in the series finale, has provided a productive bat against left-handers this season, entering Sunday having batted .385 against them. Last year, he went just 11-for-70 (.157) against lefties.
However, the 30-year-old ended the series finale with just 11 hits in his last 61 at-bats, with 20 strikeouts (including four on both Wednesday and Friday), bringing his strikeout total through his first 27 games of the season to 28. In 2012, it took him 41 games to reach 28 strikeouts.
While Smith drew the start in left field next to center fielder Yoenis Cespedes, it was Michael Taylor getting the nod in right field following his Saturday callup in place of the injured Chris Young. That meant a slumping Josh Reddick remained on the bench.
Reddick, who entered the series finale as a defensive replacement and doubled in his only at-bat, came into Sunday 1-for-22 over his last eight games and he had just 12 hits total on the season for a .138 average. Only Minnesota's Aaron Hicks (.123) has a lower average among all Major League players with at least 75 at-bats.
• Young (quad) returned to the Bay Area on Sunday to join rehabbing teammates Coco Crisp (hamstring) and Brett Anderson (ankle).
Melvin said Crisp is on the mend, noting Saturday was the first day he could walk without experiencing any soreness in the hamstring. Anderson, meanwhile, is refraining from any weight-bearing activities like running, but he's playing catch. When it comes time for the lefty to throw a bullpen session, he'll rejoin the team.
• Hiro Nakajima, who began a rehab stint with Triple-A Sacramento on Friday, came away from his first game feeling slight tightness in the hamstring he strained back in March. He had a scheduled day off, anyway, on Saturday, but Melvin was unsure whether he was to be deemed healthy enough to play Sunday.
• The A's came into Sunday's series finale with the Yankees having drawn 28 walks in their last five games. They have a Major League-leading 145 for the season, which is 20 more than any other team.