Oakland A's

A’s prospect Matt Chapman savors first big-league experience

A’s infield prospect Matt Chapman dives for a ball against the Giants during a spring training game in Scottsdale, Ariz., Saturday, March 19, 2016.
A’s infield prospect Matt Chapman dives for a ball against the Giants during a spring training game in Scottsdale, Ariz., Saturday, March 19, 2016. The Associated Press

A’s infield prospect Matt Chapman didn’t let his first time playing in a major-league stadium pass Thursday night without soaking in the moment a little.

“Me and some of the (other) guys who had never been here before were like, ‘We started in the stands,’” Chapman said, “ ‘and now we’re on the field.’ 

Chapman’s very presence in the Bay Area this week is notable. Oakland’s first-round draft pick in 2014 was a non-roster invitee to his first big-league camp this spring but stuck with the A’s until the final weekend of the preseason, earning a trip north for the annual Bay Bridge series against the Giants.

The 22-year-old third baseman was the A’s co-leader in Cactus League play with five home runs, 13 RBIs and a .674 slugging percentage, and he drew praise from coaches regarding his defensive ability and strong arm.

“To be able to be here when we didn’t really expect him to be here for these three games is a reward for him,” manager Bob Melvin said. “I know he’s excited about it.”

Chapman entered Thursday night’s game in the later innings and had one at-bat, facing Giants right-handed reliever Cory Gearrin.

“It was fast,” said Chapman, who struck out on three pitches. “It was a quick one.”

It wasn’t Chapman’s toughest at-bat this spring, though. He started one of the A’s final games in Arizona against the Cubs and drew the honor of facing Jake Arrieta, last year’s National League Cy Young Award winner.

“Yeah, he was really good,” said Chapman, who grounded out and flied out in two at-bats against Arrieta. “Every pitch he threw came out a different way. Whether it was cutting away from me or sinking in or he was working the zone, you didn’t get the same look.”

Those are the experiences Chapman believes can only help him as his career progresses. Chapman’s 2015 season was shortened by a knee strain and a wrist injury that required surgery to repair two torn ligaments. But he still managed to hit 23 home runs in 80 games at High-A Stockton, tops in the A’s farm system.

Chapman also made 19 errors last season at third base and said he has benefited in camp from working with A’s infield coach Ron Washington. He said Washington pointed out early on that Chapman sometimes fielded ground balls with his legs narrower than other times and as a result, “the biggest thing I worked on this spring was being in a consistent fielding position every time.”

Chapman said he hasn’t been told yet where he’ll start the upcoming season -- Double-A Midland is a likely destination. But he will leave the A’s with an encouraging message from Melvin.

“He just told me I’ve definitely made the most of my opportunity,” Chapman said. “To hear that from him has been pretty special.”

Parker update – Before Friday’s game, A’s head trainer Nick Paparesta gave an explanation of the surgery that pitcher Jarrod Parker had performed on his right elbow Wednesday by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Paparesta said the procedure involved reconstructing the medial compartment of Parker’s elbow by attaching the ulnar collateral ligament and flexor tendon to the humerus bone. He clarified that it was not a Tommy John-style procedure -- which would have been the third of Parker’s career -- because the ligament in Parker’s elbow was still intact.

Parker fractured the medial epicondyle area of his elbow for a second time on March 10. Paparesta said there were bone fragments in Parker’s elbow that were also removed as part of the surgery. He said Parker was exhibiting "full tension and full stability" of his elbow joint after the procedure and his doctors were "very pleased with the results."

"The most important thing about this whole case is it’s not your average garden-variety type surgery," Paparesta said. "Dr. ElAttrache had to do some things that he normally doesn’t have to do in this type of operation and was able to get the good outcome that he wanted with the stability of the joint."

Parker is now expected to fly to Arizona for two weeks before returning to Los Angeles, where he’ll have his current splint removed and be given a brace. Paparesta said Parker will then determine where he wants to begin his rehab, though it will probably be three months before Parker can start strengthening work on his elbow.

Though he faces another grueling rehab process, Parker has said he wants to pitch again. He was trying this spring to return from his first medial epicondyle fracture, which he suffered last season coming back from his second Tommy John surgery.

"(ElAttrache) said he has not had a major-league pitcher return from (both) an ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction and a medial epicondyle fracture," Paparesta said. "Jarrod was obviously, as we all know, kind of fighting an uphill battle going into this season."

Paparesta did not offer a guess as to when Parker could start throwing again and said he expects Parker to take some time to evaluate his next steps.

"I think ultimately we want to get him back to where he’s got a full functioning elbow and he’s able to do anything he wants to do in his life again," Papresta said. "Whether that’s competing in baseball or playing catch with his kids, we want to make sure we do whatever is best."

Graveman’s outing – Right-hander Kendall Graveman’s final spring training start began inauspiciously, as the first three batters he faced Friday night reached on a single, walk and two-run double. But Graveman settled down to retire his next seven batters and did not allow another run while throwing five innings in the A’s 3-0 loss to the Giants.

Graveman gave up four hits and walked two, but recorded four strikeouts and induced two double plays. He finishes spring with a 4.73 ERA in six games and said he’s "ready for the season."

"I thought I got incrementally better each outing," Graveman said. "The key I think is for me to have intent with every pitch. I don’t think I could say that honestly the first couple outings, but the last couple outings every pitch had intent, every pitch had a purpose."

Et cetera – Infielder Eric Sogard was scratched from the A’s lineup Friday with a neck issue that Melvin said arose earlier in the day. For infield reinforcements the A’s flew in minor-leaguer Franklin Barreto, who arrived mid-game and checked in during the later innings. Melvin said Barreto will likely play in Saturday’s finale as well.

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