There’s a lot to keep track of around the Oakland A’s right now, from safety concerns during the coronavirus pandemic, to roster decisions, to the actual game on the field with Opening Day just over a week away. But there’s also hair news, and we can’t ignore that.
By now it’s been widely reported that rookie pitcher A.J. Puk cut off his shoulder-length hair. Here’s the before and after:
You can watch the streamlined Puk in action. Note the quote from fellow lefty Sean Manaea, who has himself experimented with some fun hairstyles.
A.J. Puk cut off all his hair.— Shayna Rubin (@ShaynaRubin) July 5, 2020
Sean Manaea: “I guess quarantine does that to people” pic.twitter.com/efqeDvc0HS
Your reaction to this development will depend on what you thought of Puk’s long, straight hair before, if you thought about it at all. He was sort of a blond/ginger version of the kid from Dazed & Confused, for better or worse. Now he more closely resembles me, which isn’t bad at all in my biased opinion. On the downside, it lessens the optics of Randy Johnson comparisons, though Johnson did eventually cut his intimidating long hair later in his career.
Puk says some of his teammates didn't recognize him with the short hair. "I told them I was from the Mateo trade."— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) July 11, 2020
Whatever he looks like, the top prospect is poised to contribute in 2020. He won’t have any innings limit to worry about in the short season, he’s healthy after 2018 Tommy John surgery and then a brief injury this spring, he lost 10 pounds during the shutdown (not counting hair) and refined his mechanics, and he’s ready to fire his upper-90s heat.
Daniel Mengden’s mustache
That’s not the only hair update on the team, though. Back in October, the A’s reported that pitcher Daniel Mengden had shaved off his iconic handlebar mustache, with shocking photo evidence.
However, the ‘stache appears to be back. Here are a couple photos from last weekend at Summer Camp, and the image at the top of this story is also recent.
'Stache Saturdays— Oakland A's (@Athletics) July 12, 2020
The ‘stache was actually back by February, as you can see from Team Photo Day, though thankfully he didn’t keep the goatee portion.
On the field, like Puk, Mengden was hurt during the original spring training, even landing on the 60-day injured list after minor elbow surgery. However, he’s back to health, and pitched in the team’s simulated game on Sunday. He’s out of options and can’t be sent back to the minors, so he’s a good bet to make the Opening Day roster in some role, but wherever he ends up he’ll now do so with his usual signature style.
Of course, we can’t talk about A’s hair without mentioning Mike Fiers’ cat-tail beard from 2019, which was commemorated in a set of face masks during Summer Camp this month.