Spring training is fully underway, with the Oakland A’s a couple days into full squad workouts. Click here to catch up with our last update from Monday.
Here’s the latest!
Rosenthal and Moreland arrive
Even when position players began workouts on Monday, the team still wasn’t quite fully accounted for. That’s because two free agents hadn’t yet been formally announced, but that changed this week as closer Trevor Rosenthal and DH Mitch Moreland are now officially members of the A’s and both have reported to camp.
Regarding Rosenthal, manager Bob Melvin said the following, via Shayna Rubin of the Mercury News:
“It puts us in a similar situation when we had Liam here. We didn’t think that was going to be the case once Liam signed with with Chicago. So it’s a lot easier on us to not have to be as creative in the last couple innings.”
The pitcher himself also spoke to the media, with lots of nice things to say about his new club. Click here for more quotes from insider Martin Gallegos.
As for Moreland, he expects to “transition to more of a DH role,” per Gallegos. The A’s already have three-time Fielding Bible winner Matt Olson firmly entrenched at first base, so designated hitter is the obvious role for Moreland in the lineup.
To that end, the veteran lefty’s bat did some talking too.
New A Mitch Moreland taking some swings. pic.twitter.com/CPYFpTJVSQ— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) February 23, 2021
Injuries and obstacles
While the position players and the new free agents have all arrived, the full squad isn’t quite in camp yet. Pitcher Frankie Montas is still dealing with coronavirus and must recover and clear protocol before reporting. And, on a completely different note, outfield prospect Luis Barrera is delayed “due to visa issues,” per Gallegos.
However, catcher Sean Murphy is in camp, though he’s still recovering from unexpected surgery for a collapsed lung. He “won’t hit for a few days” while some remaining scar tissue heals, reports Gallegos, but he is “still optimistic to be ready for Opening Day,” adds Matt Kawahara of the S.F. Chronicle.
As for the cause of the lung issue, that’s still unknown. Via Gallegos:
Sean Murphy says he just woke up one day and had tightness in his chest. He [thought] it might have been COVID and went to the hospital. Turned out he had a collapsed lung. Still can’t figure out the cause.
Murphy says he had one surgery to insert a tube to reinflate his lung - that one was necessary - then he opted for a second surgery to “prop up” the wall of the lung and decrease chance of this happening again.
Melissa Lockard of The Athletic adds an astute observation: “Has anyone dealt with more fluke injuries than Murphy the past five years? Two hamate injuries (one in each hand), a staph infection, a thumb injury, a meniscus tear, and now this.”
The A’s two star Matts had tough years in 2020. First baseman Matt Olson batted .195, and third baseman Matt Chapman got hurt. But both are hungry for bounce-backs this summer.
Matt Olson was not pleased with his 2020 season at the plate: “To put it bluntly, I stunk last year.” Like Matt Chapman, Olson is also motivated to bounce back this season.
At least Olson got to play all year and into October, though. Chapman discussed having to sit out with injury and watch his teammates in the playoffs from home.
Matt Chapman on how it was watching the A’s postseason run from home: pic.twitter.com/GjSxGsxDPG— Shayna Rubin (@ShaynaRubin) February 22, 2021
Fortunately, he’s healthy now and ready to go.
Quick summary of that second video, per Rubin:
Matt Chapman said he has 100% clearance to return to sport. Said he feels fresh: “I feel like I got both legs under me. Especially my right leg, which is my dominant leg.”
Of course, even despite their troubles, both Matts still posted productive seasons in 2020, and each were on at least a 3-4 WAR pace if you extrapolate the shortened campaign to a full summer. That’s what their off-year looks like. But we know as well as they do that they can each be in MVP contention when they’re at the tops of their games. Click here for more quotes via Gallegos.
Lowrie plays baseball
MLB hasn’t seen much of Jed Lowrie lately, as injuries limited him to eight plate appearances over his entire two-year contract with the Mets. But now he’s back with Oakland, the only place he’s ever been able to stay healthy. Can he pull it off again for a third stint in green and gold?
The first step is complete: He is on a field physically doing baseball things. And not just with his bat, but on defense in the infield, where the A’s still haven’t decided who will play second base.
5-4-3. Lowrie on the first turn at 2B, Kemp on the second. Chad Pinder getting work at third on day one pic.twitter.com/KUiSmSxz0w— Matt Kawahara (@matthewkawahara) February 22, 2021
A’s manager Bob Melvin said that Jed Lowrie will probably be on more DH at-bats to start, adds that he’s surprised (in a good way) to see where Lowrie’s at right now, given his injury history.
Athletics Nation generally expects that Lowrie profiles best as a DH at this point, but we shouldn’t count out the chance that he miraculously makes his way back to 2B. It’s not like we haven’t seen him work magic before.
A few odds and ends, beginning with some young pitchers.
Some notes from Bob Melvin after first day of live BP:— Shayna Rubin (@ShaynaRubin) February 23, 2021
- Luzardo’s first pitch was 98mph
- Kaprielian and Burch Smith threw well today
- Second round pick Jeff Criswell impressed, live arm with good control of his breaking ball
More praise for Bullpen Dad
Just about every A's player from last year's team who we've talked to so far has brought up the excitement of having Yusmeiro Petit back when asked about the team's offseason moves, including Sean Murphy today. There may not have been a more important signing for this group.— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) February 24, 2021
Column from Kawahara
Bob Melvin sets expectations in A's first team meeting of 2021, plus other notes from day one of full-squad workouts: https://t.co/3LwXwAcopv— Matt Kawahara (@matthewkawahara) February 23, 2021
And now some videos
Remember you can watch parts of the spring workouts live on YouTube!
A wide arsenal of moves