The A’s made two more September call-ups before Tuesday’s game against the Houston Astros, recalling outfielder Craig Gentry and infielder Max Muncy from Triple-A Nashville.
This has been a trying season for Gentry. He started the season in Oakland but went hitless in his first 22 at-bats and was 3 for 38 when the A’s optioned him out May 25. Gentry batted .256 in 101 games at Nashville, though his numbers had started picking up recently.
“It was definitely a really hard year from an offensive standpoint,” Gentry said Tuesday. “Even when I was down there, I couldn’t get anything going for very long. But I feel like I finished up swinging the bat well, feeling good at the plate. I don’t know how much I’ll be playing here, but hopefully when I get in there, I can keep it going.”
Manager Bob Melvin said Gentry’s presence frees him to give center fielder Billy Burns days off, particularly against left-handed pitching. It also allows the A’s to look at Gentry for the first time in a few months. Melvin said the A’s always considered Gentry part of their outfield depth, but there wasn’t room for him before now on the big-league roster.
“He has been part of what’s gone on here the last few years,” Melvin said. “I’m sure it was a big change for him having to play in the minor leagues again for a while … But he seemed like he was in a good mood today, and seems like he’s happy being back.”
Gentry said his poor start probably wore on him mentally, and it took having some positive results at Triple A to help him rebound. After spending most of 2012 to 2014 in the majors with Texas and Oakland, Gentry admitted that minor-league life was “a big adjustment.”
“But it was great,” he said. “I learned a lot about myself and about me as a player also.”
One thing Gentry learned: The constant tinkering with his swing early this season reached a point of diminishing returns. Gentry said he eventually stopped trying to fix everything and just “found something that was comfortable and stuck with it.” The result was something he described as “more of my original swing.”
Melvin said he thinks Gentry remains in good standing with the A’s organization, despite his struggles this year. Gentry will be arbitration eligible after the season, and the A’s must decide whether to tender him an offer. But Gentry said he’s more concerned right now about finishing the season on a good note in Oakland.
“That’s kind of out of my control,” Gentry said. “I really don’t know what’s going to happen, I haven’t heard anything. I guess all I can do is focus on finishing up strong and try to make it a more difficult decision for them.”
▪ Melvin said he didn’t want to go into particulars about the condition of Stephen Vogt, who was hospitalized after taking a foul ball to the groin area Sunday. But he said Vogt felt better Tuesday and had been to the hospital for another ultrasound test that showed “nothing that would require any surgery.”
“So that’s good,” Melvin said. “Now it’s just going to be all about when he’s able to move around and play. It could be a little while.”
Melvin said Vogt plans to be at O.co Coliseum on Wednesday and go with the A’s on their upcoming trip. He also reiterated the A’s are comfortable having two catchers while they wait for Vogt to recover enough to play.
▪ Right-hander Chris Bassitt (shoulder) could start playing catch this week, but Melvin was noncommittal when asked if Bassitt will make another start for the A’s this season.
“I don’t know,” Melvin said. “It’s building a guy back up to starting – depending on how long, it can be difficult. Once he starts playing catch, we’ll have a better idea. We’d love to be able to, but we’re also going to be real careful with him.”
Melvin struck the same tone earlier this year about Jesse Hahn, who was effectively shut down for the season because of a forearm strain. Melvin was asked if Bassitt, who owns a 2.73 ERA in 10 starts for the A’s this season despite a 1-6 record largely because of poor run support, already has showed enough to be in the rotation discussion for 2016.
“Very much so,” Melvin said. “He’ll definitely be in the plans. Once he got into a starting role, he did his best work for us. I know that’s what he wants to do, and he made a great impression.”
▪ At least the A’s rotation still features Sonny Gray. The ace right-hander started Tuesday night against his former teammate and mentor Scott Kazmir, the left-hander now pitching for the Astros. Melvin said Oakland’s familiarity with Kazmir is a wash – Kazmir is just as familiar with the tendencies of the A’s hitters. It should still be entertaining.
The A’s lineup against Kazmir:
And the Astros’ lineup against Gray: