OAKLAND The first time A's relief pitcher Dan Otero threw to catcher Stephen Vogt, in Triple A in the spring, Otero said, the two had never met.
When the A's acquired Vogt on April 5 from Tampa Bay, optioning him to Sacramento, they designated Otero for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. Otero cleared waivers two days later and also was sent to Sacramento. By the time Otero got to Raley Field that day, he said, Vogt "was already out there for the game," so when Otero was brought in to pitch the ninth inning against Las Vegas, it was a hurried introduction.
"Just pitches, that's about it," Otero said. " 'What do you got? All right, let's go.' So I know he'll handle this fine. He's easy to work with. He will try to learn you as quickly as possible and just pitch to your strengths."
After finding out late Monday night that the A's were calling him up, Vogt arrived in Oakland on Tuesday to find himself in the starting lineup against Cincinnati.
A's manager Bob Melvin said catcher John Jaso is still bothered by an abrasion on his left hand and is "probably a couple days away" from catching an entire game. So with the Reds starting right-hander Bronson Arroyo, and with fellow catcher Derek Norris batting .151 since May 1, the left-handed-hitting Vogt was ushered into his A's debut.
Because he joined the A's after Opening Day, Vogt had yet to catch most of their pitchers, including Tuesday's starter, Tommy Milone.
Before the game, he said he expected to sit down with Milone, go over the Reds' lineup "and just kind of match them up with what Tommy likes to do and go get 'em."
"I'm sure it's bound to happen that there's going to be somebody where the first pitch I'm catching from them is on the game mound," Vogt said. "You just trust your ability and trust your eyes, and do your best for them."
Vogt showed little trouble this spring adapting to new surroundings, batting .438 for the River Cats in April before cooling off some in May.
Before Tuesday, he was hitting .325 with nine home runs in 58 games with Sacramento and had thrown out 19 of 47 (40.4 percent) would-be basestealers, the third-best mark in the Pacific Coast League.
The A's called up Vogt to fill the roster spot that opened when they optioned right-hander Dan Straily back to Triple A on Sunday, not needing a fifth starter until July 6 because of scheduling, and Melvin said of the 28-year-old catcher: "It's good to finally get a look at him."
Vogt, who appeared in 18 games last season with Tampa Bay, said he, too, was "really excited to get the news" after the River Cats' loss at Raley Field on Monday night.
His major-league experience last year was spaced over three call-ups, with the rest of the season spent with the Rays' Triple-A affiliate in Durham, N.C. All told, the Vogt family, including wife Alyssa and 1 1/2-year-old daughter Payton, moved nine times in 2012. Tuesday, the gap between Triple A and the major leagues was a shot up an overcast Interstate 80.
"It's a much better move to go 80 miles rather than a 12-hour drive or moving six states," Vogt said. "So it's nice. It's nice for us to be together at this time and share the moment together."
Vogt went 0 for 25 in his 18 games with the Rays. So he batted in the second inning Tuesday, with runners on second and third and the A's ahead 1-0, still looking for his first major-league hit. Knees slightly bent, wearing no batting gloves, Vogt worked a 3-1 count against Arroyo before golfing a low curveball into center field.
It hung up for the Reds' Shin-Soo Choo to make the catch, but was deep enough to score Josh Donaldson from third base for Vogt's first major-league RBI. The wait for his first hit would continue, but it hadn't taken long for him to make an impact.