Retired infielder Mark Ellis was back in A’s camp Monday, looking as though he’d aged little since his playing days in Oakland.
“I started working out again last week,” Ellis said, “because I knew I had to put a uniform on.”
Ellis, who will work with the infielders for a week, played for Oakland from 2002 to 2011. He retired before the 2015 season with the fifth-highest career fielding percentage (.991) ever among major-league second basemen.
“Good resource to have,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Between he and (infield coach Ron Washington), we made it a point to tell not only our younger players but also the veteran guys that this is about as good a sounding board as you can get.”
The A’s think very highly of their young infielders, including former first-round picks Matt Chapman (2014) and Richie Martin (2015), Joey Wendle, Franklin Barreto and Matt Olson. Ellis said he followed Martin, a fellow Florida alum, while the shortstop was in college but will meet most of the others for the first time.
Ellis said Martin, drafted 20th overall last year, is “freakishly athletic. He’s really fun to watch play shortstop. I’m excited that ‘Wash’ gets to work with him, just to fine-tune those fundamentals a little bit.
“The rest of them I don’t know a whole lot about. It’ll be fun to see them this week and to see what they have.”
Ellis was highly respected in Oakland for his work ethic, and after he retired, executive vice president Billy Beane told the San Francisco Chronicle he hoped Ellis would return to the organization in some capacity. Melvin reiterated that feeling Monday morning.
“This is kind of the perfect segue for him to come back and be part of it again,” Melvin said. “Hopefully he’ll have a good five or six days here and want to maybe expand it down the road. Certainly we’re hoping that’s with us.”
Last fall, Ellis spent a week working with A’s prospects in the instructional league, and he said when general manager David Forst contacted him about coming to spring training, it was “an easy decision.”
Asked if he aspires to get into coaching, though, Ellis left possibilities open.
“A little bit,” he said. “I’ve been away long enough now that I kind of like being home with my family and being able to see them every day. Some sort of role maybe at some point, but I don’t know what that is. I’m just going to enjoy this week, it’ll be fun to be out here, and whatever comes of it, we’ll see.”
Vogt’s big day – Catcher Stephen Vogt homered twice in the A’s 6-4 win over the Kansas City Royals on Monday, but he said he was more encouraged by being able to swing freely without pain in his right elbow, on which he had arthroscopic surgery five weeks ago.
“I really wasn’t able to get through a ball like that in a while,” Vogt said. “To be able to get extended and feel that (freedom) was nice.”
Starter Jesse Hahn and relievers Ryan Madson and John Axford made their Cactus League debuts. Hahn pitched two innings, allowed one hit – a two-run homer by Mike Moustakas – and recorded five ground-ball outs. Axford and Madson, a former Royal, pitched a scoreless inning each.
Et cetera – Right-hander Jarrod Parker, who’s attempting a comeback from multiple arm injuries, is scheduled to face hitters for the first time this spring Thursday.
▪ Left fielder and first baseman Mark Canha (back stiffness) took batting practice on the field and could play in a game this week.
Rangers 6, Giants 5 in Surprise, Ariz. – San Francisco veteran right-hander Jake Peavy pitched much better in his second start, but Texas rallied to win.
Peavy, who surrendered six runs on nine hits in 1 2/3 innings Thursday against Milwaukee, yielded two runs on five hits over three innings against the Rangers.