By Evan Brunell
The Athletics demoted first baseman Daric Barton to Triple-A following Tuesday's game in a decision that everyone saw coming.
There were whispers that Barton would be demoted when infielder Mark Ellis returned from the disabled list because of the strong play of Jemile Weeks, Ellis' replacement at second. CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler reports that Weeks will continue playing second base. In Barton's absence, Ellis could see some time at first base along with outfielder Conor Jackson, which would also free up playing time for Ryan Sweeney.
Barton hit just .212/.325/.267, with his strong batting eye obscured by a low batting average and not enough power to justify his continued playing. It's a steep drop for Barton, who hit a combined .272/.388/.406 over 2009-10 in 878 plate appearances. Even his otherworldly defense has taken a step back, rendering Barton virtually useless.
Barton is just 25, though, so should be back in the majors at some point, but will have to find a way to square up the ball a lot harder than he has so far. There's no guarantee that Barton could be back in the majors before September -- if Sweeney starts hitting and Jackson takes to first base, there wouldn't be a place for Barton. Given both players have struggled, however, the odds are that you see Barton sooner rather than later.