Nobody could have blamed Dallas McPherson if he had hung up his spikes. He's had reason to, on more than one occasion.
The ex-Citadel standout was once the Next Big Thing for the Angels, a second-round pick in 2001 who rocketed through minor league ball, topping out with 40 home runs and 126 RBIs at the Double-A and Triple-A levels in 2004.
McPherson got his shot at third base with the Angels in 2004 and 2005, but that's when his body began to betray him. His 2005 season was cut short by hip surgery, and by 2006 his chronic back problems led to spinal fusion surgery, forcing him to miss the 2007 season.
Let go by the Angels, McPherson hooked on with the Marlins and hit .275 with 42 homers in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in 2008. But another back surgery cost him the 2009 season, again throwing his future in doubt.
The 6-4, 235-pound slugger signed up with Oakland last spring, and still is banging away at age 30. McPherson has missed some games with hamstring problems, but is batting .263 with 14 homers and 55 RBIs in 67 games for Triple-A Sacramento.
"This guy's desire to play burns hotter than any Oakland trash fire," an Angels blogger wrote recently.
Over his last 10 games, McPherson is batting .302 with three homers and 11 RBIs, bashing homers in three straight games and driving in nine runs in a four-game stretch.
--McPherson's Sacramento teammate, infielder Steven Tolleson (USC) got a well-earned call-up to Oakland this week. Tolleson, a fifth-round pick in 2005, was hitting .332 with nine homers and 43 RBIs in 80 games when called up by the A's last week. Tolleson is replacing Adam Rosales (injured ankle), who is expected to be out for four weeks.
--The rise of pitcher Daniel Moskos (Clemson) toward the majors took a sharp U-turn this week when the Pirates demoted him from Triple-A Indianapolis to Double-A Altoona.
Moskos, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2007 draft, seemed to have found a role as a closer, going 2-1 with a 1.45 ERA and 17 saves at Altoona before being promoted to Indianapolis.
But his stint there was a disaster -- 0-5 with a 10.38 ERA in 19 appearances, with only one save. The 6-1, 210-pound right-hander was removed from the closer role before being sent down.
"Danny had struggled to right the ship at Triple-A as he continued to struggle throwing strikes," Pirates director of player development Kyle Stark told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "We tried adjusting when he was used to ensure the game situations weren't impacting his intensity level. When that didn't work, we felt like he needed an environment change to work through this."
--Second baseman Bryan Altman (The Citadel) is coming around after a slow start in rookie ball with the AZL Padres. Altman is batting .364 over his last 10 games, with a homer and five RBIs, raising his average to .212 through 23 games as a pro.
--Second baseman Joey Bergman (College of Charleston) could not ask for a much better start to his pro career. Bergman has hit .436 over the last 10 games to improve to .333 with 21 RBIs in 42 games with Class A Batavia in the NY-Penn League.