Friday afternoon, A’s infielder Max Muncy sat at the locker farthest from the entrance along one wall of the Coliseum clubhouse, checking his phone. Across the way, above another locker hidden from half the room by a small partition, the nameplate for closer Ryan Madson had replaced that of the longtime previous owner.
Those lockers used to be occupied by Josh Reddick and Coco Crisp, respectively, before the veteran outfielders were traded last month. The A’s dealt Reddick, with left-hander Rich Hill, to the Dodgers at the Aug. 1 nonwaiver trade deadline. On Wednesday they sent Crisp, their longest-tenured player, to Cleveland for a minor-league pitcher.
On Friday, they returned home to begin a three-game series against the Red Sox – their first since 2009 without Crisp in the organization. Reddick joined shortly thereafter, in 2012. Both became key figures of the A’s team that won a division title that year for the first of three consecutive postseason appearances.
“Coco and Reddick, they were here for so long that they were pretty much – they were the heart of the team, they were the soul of the team,” Muncy said Friday. “Everyone kind of rallied around those guys. Now you’re almost turning the page. You’re moving on from those teams in the past and hopefully moving forward.”
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Little remains of the 2012 team that clinched the American League West on the last day of that season. Infielder Eric Sogard and pitcher Jarrod Parker are both on the disabled list and likely out for the year, with Parker’s future uncertain due to multiple major elbow injuries. Reliever Sean Doolittle, the only other 2012 holdover, was activated from the DL before Friday’s game after missing two months with a shoulder strain.
“It’s very strange,” Doolittle said. “It’s definitely different walking around the clubhouse today.
“I think it creates an opportunity for other guys to step up and be leaders, guys that have been here for a while, guys that have been on teams that have had success here. Myself, Sonny (Gray), there’s not a whole lot left. So I think it’s important that the guys that have been here and that have won here step up and lead by example.”
Gray, also on the DL, arrived in Oakland midway through the 2013 season and quickly became the ace. Catcher Stephen Vogt also debuted with the A’s that season, when they won 96 games and the division.
Asked who the leaders in the clubhouse are now that Reddick and Crisp are gone, manager Bob Melvin and several players cited Vogt, a two-time All Star, and Doolittle. Melvin also pointed to Gray and, in the future, shortstop Marcus Semien.
“There are always guys that you look to, to be influences in the clubhouse,” Melvin said, “and probably just a little bit more turnover here than maybe some other teams.”
Semien is in just his second season with the A’s but his work ethic has quickly earned the respect of coaches and teammates. Semien still goes through fielding drills with infield coach Ron Washington nearly every day before batting practice and has played in 131 of the A’s 134 games this season, starting all but one of them.
Including Semien on a list of clubhouse leaders signifies an A’s team looking toward the future. Amid trading many of their veterans and rotating in a parade of young players, the A’s have invested the last two years into making Semien an everyday shortstop. Friday, Semien said the identity of the A’s, post-Crisp and Reddick, is still being determined.
“We’re still figuring that out,” Semien said. “Those guys were fixtures in this clubhouse for a long time. Right now we’re just trying to get a feel for what’s going on and how we can move on and do well on the field. We’re not necessarily looking for who’s going to be leading in here. We want to see what we can do and lead by example on the field.”
General manager David Forst told reporters after the Crisp trade the A’s will use the rest of this year to evaluate players for 2017. Ryon Healy’s audition at third base started after the All-Star break, while call-ups Joey Wendle and Chad Pinder are expected to platoon this month at second base. The A’s could also bring up a starting-pitching prospect such as Jharel Cotton, acquired in the Reddick deal, after the season ends for Triple-A Nashville.
“We feel like there’s quite a few guys that are potentially going to be part of our future,” Melvin said. “This is their time to shine and make an impact starting next year in spring training.”
Doolittle on Friday had just rejoined the A’s from a rehab assignment at Nashville, where the Triple-A Sounds are playoff-bound with the best record in the Pacific Coast League.
“There’s a lot to like about the guys that are coming up through this system right now,” Doolittle said. “Hopefully these guys can capitalize on the opportunities they get here in September, because I was just around them for three weeks, and I think the future here is very bright. I’m excited to watch them do their thing a little bit.”