With Stephen Vogt recovering from arthroscopic elbow surgery and Josh Phegley limited by the flu and shoulder soreness, A’s manager Bob Melvin said there is a window of opportunity for the other catchers in camp to make an impact.
They made a few loud ones in the A’s intrasquad game Tuesday. Bryan Anderson and Matt McBride, two non-roster invitees, both hit home runs and 40-man roster member Carson Blair had an RBI single off of reliever Ryan Madson in the team’s last tune-up before beginning Cactus League play on Thursday.
Anderson’s home run elicited some laughter when he paused after touching first base and turned back toward the dugout. After urging from the dugouts, he completed the home-run trot.
“I think he decided to just really take the simulated game seriously and peel off into the dugout,” said Melvin, a former catcher, adding: “Those catchers are always trying to save a little energy.”
Blair and Bruce Maxwell, who lined a single off of Liam Hendriks during the scrimmage, are currently slated to start the A’s split-squad games Friday. Melvin said Vogt is taking live swings in batting practice and is tentatively on target to play in the second week of Cactus League games. Phegley took two at-bats in Tuesday’s intrasquad but did not catch or throw.
“This is a big opportunity for (the other catchers), especially Maxwell,” Melvin said. “He’s been in big-league camp but hasn’t had the opportunity to play as much as he’s going to be able to (now). This is a big year for him.”
Other highlights – Asked what stood out to him from Tuesday’s game, Melvin gave a one-word answer: “Chapman.”
That was infielder Matt Chapman, the A’s first-round pick in 2014, who hit a home run and doubled in two at-bats. A right-handed hitter, Chapman homered to right-center off of left-hander Patrick Schuster.
“We’re seeing the type of power they’ve been talking about,” Melvin said. “It looked like a left-handed hitter going to right-center field, and it got out in a hurry.”
Rich Hill, expected to be the A’s No. 2 starter, and rotation candidate Chris Bassitt each pitched one inning to start the game. Hill gave up a run on a double by Marcus Semien and single by Josh Reddick. Madson allowed a run on Blair’s single and Sean Doolittle pitched a 1-2-3 inning.
Richie Martin, the A’s first-round pick last year, was hit twice by pitches including once on the left hand but said he was OK. Melvin observed that after being hit a second time, Martin attempted to steal second on the next pitch, scoring on Jake Smolinski’s double.
Mark Canha was held out of the intrasquad with back stiffness, with Melvin saying the A’s “aren’t going to push it at this point.”