clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Matt McBride wants to help the Oakland A's any way he can

The Athletics signed catcher-outfielder Matt McBride to a minor league deal, though it's too early to say where he'll fit into the organizational scheme. I had a few minutes with McBride to discuss what he's trying to do with the A's.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

MESA, Ariz. -- I was intrigued when I saw that Matt McBride was listed as a catcher on this spring's list of non-roster invitees. McBride has not been credited with a professional game as a catcher since 2013, splitting his time between the corner outfield spots and first base the last couple of years between Colorado and their Triple-A clubs. Alex Hall even wrote up a profile back in January that presumed he was now primarily an outfielder.

McBride signed a minor league deal with the A's before the club rearranged its catching situation by trading Jacob Nottingham away for Khris Davis and then re-signing Bryan Anderson. As a catcher, he's in competition with Anderson, Carson Blair, and Bruce Maxwell, while late offseason additions could also make things crowded in the corner outfield spots at Triple-A as well.

A few minutes with McBride showed me a player who wants to help his club any way he can. I concentrated mainly on his catching, however, since that odd gap was what drew me to him, initially:

Q: All I really know is your baseball-reference line, which is that you haven't caught a game since 2013. Have you done any catching since then?

McBride: I grew up as a catcher and I got drafted as a catcher. So when I was -- the past few years, when I was with the Rockies, I'd always go to spring training as a catcher. You know it's not like the last two years I haven't done [it], even though I haven't caught any games during the season, I've got work in in spring training and I was always that guy you know in the event of an emergency or whatever in the last two years in Triple-A.

But even in the big leagues I could get back there. The need never arose because we had a lot of catchers so it just never happened. But even in 2013 it was almost like a last minute thing, but I'm glad it happened. I ended up catching a bunch that year. I had an injury so I ended up only playing half the year but I grew up doing it so I'm trying to do a lot of work back there. Now spring training so you know I know I need the work, but when I get back there I feel good. I enjoy being back there because I grew up doing it.

Q: At the plate it's been a little bit of a tough spring for you (0-for-7 when we talked, and got to 0-for-9 before his first hit over his next couple of games), but you've only had one or two bats each game and I know you had a home run in the intrasquad game. Is it just a matter of getting that regular playing time that will get you back in the swing of things?

McBride: Yeah I'm feeling good. You know it's just one of those things. I feel good at the plate so it's not -- I'm not too worried about it right now. I think I've had probably six or seven at bats. You know it's one of those things where you go out and the next three at bats you get three hits and you're right back in it so I'm not too concerned about that. Every day I'm just trying to get better catching; get my work in in the outfield and at first base. And keep my routine up hitting in the cage and BP and whatnot. You know just trying to keep all the bases covered here in spring and just try and keep getting better. And our catching [coach] Marcus [Jensen]. Marcus is great, I'm learning a lot from him. That's helped me out a lot.

Q: What particularly are you picking up from Marcus Jensen?

McBride: Shoot, I mean he's a tall guy, similar to me [McBride is listed as 6'2", Jensen is 6'4"]. You know sometimes my set up. I'm working on my flexibility and also, doing with that just being a little bit taller sometimes you can do things a little bit differently than say a guy that's a little bit shorter as a catcher. So having someone that is similar in body type to me he can help me out and say, "Ah well for me, I can do this and whatnot."

That's helped out a lot and we're working on blocking a lot. I'd say pretty much everything so having gotten back, I didn't work doing catching as a utility role. I would say I'm focusing on my blocking, my set up, and all that but I'm really trying to just also make sure I'm getting in the reps at everything else.

Q: I know there's a little bit of talk about pitch framing these days. Is that also a big part of what you're learning there?

McBride: I think for me that goes along with my setup. I think for me personally if I get into a good setup to allow my hands to work freely and not get caught up, it allows me to receive the ball in a better position. That results in a better job for the guy behind the plate to get the best look at the pitch. So for me I mean that's obviously, I guess for me it's more correlated with my setup making sure I don't get tied up with my hands.

Q: What brought you to Oakland in the first place?

McBride: Well I guess they were the first team that called that first day you become a free agent so I knew they were interested right away. They're an organization that I've played a bunch in Triple-A and they like to use a lot of guys. They mentioned about getting back their catching and I know that's something that, being able to do it, even in the utility role is beneficial. So it just seemed like there was a lot of interest there on their part. You know the interest in catching definitely sparked my interest. I'm glad I'm here. You know whatever happens here I'm ready to go and try to help the team in any way.

McBride gets on the board

McBride played an inning in right field in Friday's game against the Cleveland Indians, getting one ninth inning at bat. The box score shows a strikeout, but during the at bat he turned on a pitch just a bit too soon and hit it home run distance but just foul. "I just jumped the gun a little bit too quick! I felt really good," McBride says. On the strikeout pitch by Indians reliever Felipe Paulino, "He made a good pitch, he threw a slider. It was a strike down in the corner right at the knees. Good pitch. Obviously I wasn't happy about it; I wanted to foul that off at least. In that situation, he got me but I felt really good. I'd love to have another at bat off of him, same situation."

McBride then played behind the plate for three innings of Saturday's game against the Cincinnati Reds, having to do a lot of blocking. "That's one thing I've been working on a lot, trying to be better at, being more consistent at so that was good to be able to work on it, especially in a game situation because it's different from being out in the back. ... So it was a good thing."

In the bottom of the ninth inning, McBride hit a hard ground ball that the Reds' third baseman could not handle, keeping the A's two-out rally alive and giving McBride his first hit of the spring. The A's went on to win 7-6 when Sportman scored on a wild pitch. McBride is now 1-for-10.