By John Hickey
Monday, April 1st, 2013 at 11:21 pm in 2013 regular season.
There was no one more surprised than Jed Lowrie when Eric Sogard got his glove on a Jesus Montero grounder in the second inning and flipped the ball out of his glove toward Lowrie.
Sogard was trying to get a double play. It didn’t happen, but Lowrie reacted quickly enough that the A’s at least got the out at first base in what proved to be a 2-0 loss to Seattle.
“I’ve actually done that play before,’’ Sogard said afterward. “I wanted to get more on the throw to Jed.’’
Lowrie and Sogard have worked together only minimally, part of the price the A’s are paying for having so many second base candidates during seven weeks of spring training.
“I didn’t expect it, but I think I reacted to it quickly as I could,’’ Lowrie said. “I think Sogard wanted the double play, but the ball just sort of hung in the air there too much. It was a real nice play, though.’’
Sogard was a seriously large part of the story Monday. On the opening day roster in Oakland for the second time, he was in the starting lineup for the first time.
“There’s nothing quite like opening day,’’ said Sogard, who was on the roster last year, too. “It’s something you don’t get tired of.’’
Sogard has been up-and-down with the A’s each of the last three seasons, and the 26-year-old could be in position to make a claim on a regular spot in the lineup.
That’s not to say that Sogard has won the battle to be the starting second baseman with the A’s. He’s left-handed, and Oakland manager Bob Melvin threw every lefty he had against the right-handed Hernandez, who has a history of being masterful as a matter of course and outright dominant when pitching the opener.
After all, Scott Sizemore made the cut, too, and the right-hander is going to get plenty of chances to start. Manager Bob Melvin has the makings of a platoon at second, at least until shortstop Hiro Nakajima gets off the disabled list and gets his batting stroke together.
But plays like the one Sogard made in the second inning, and the double play he started in the third, will help keep him in the lineup.
JASO’S NEW BAUBLE
It’s too bad John Jaso couldn’t have worn the jewel-encrusted gold Rolex watch he got 90 minutes before the game from Felix Hernandez when the A’s catcher had to face the Mariners’ ace at the plate in the opening game for both teams Monday night.
It is bright enough to have distracted Hernandez, perhaps enough to keep him from being at the top of his game.
As it was, Jaso doubled for the first A’s hit off Hernandez, although the veteran catcher admitted, “It’s easier behind the plate with Felix out there than in the batter’s box.’’
“I knew from catching him last year how good he can be,’’ Jaso went on. “Maybe his velo (velocity) wasn’t as good tonight, but he off-speed stuff was good, very good.’’
And while Hernandez was close to the top of his game, it was nothing compared to last Aug. 15, when, with Jaso behind the plate, Hernandez threw the first perfect game in Seattle history. The watch was both a commemoration and a thank-you gift.
“It was great to be part of it,’’ Jaso said, showing off the watch in the runway behind the A’s clubhouse. “I thought he might do something.’’
Clearly, however, this was more than Jaso expected.
The back of the watch says simply “Perfect Game 8-15-12.’’
Jaso spent just one season with the Mariners before Seattle traded him to Oakland, and for all that time, is watch was a Timex.
“So this is an upgrade,’’ Jaso said. “It’s the kind of thing I would expect from him.’’
Jaso repaid Hernandez by becoming Oakland’s first base runner Monday, hitting a double into the gap in left-center.