You may have read that John Jaso will head into spring training as the leading contender for the A’s designated hitter chores this year.
Jaso has read it, over and over again. Such is the power of the internet.
But the veteran catcher, whose contract with Oakland for the 2014 season was just finalized, doesn’t take all that talk all that seriously.
“All that stuff I’ve heard comes from the media, and no offense, I don’t worry about that too much or look too deep,’’ Jaso said. “I know that decision is up to the brass. And they haven’t said anything to me.’’
A’s manager Bob Melvin, himself a former catcher, said Thursday Jaso would get every chance to come spring trainingand be the man behind the plate.
“We’ll see how John does catching,’’ Melvin told the Bay Area News Group. “Everything we’ve heard would suggest he’d be a full goal. And we would hope to have him in the same role.’’
Jaso wants to be a catcher, and he says the A’s haven’t told him that he’s out of mix. Stephen Vogt, like Jaso a left-hander, and Derek Norris, a right-hander, did most of the catching duty after Jaso’s injury and the A’s were for the most part pleased with that combination. And they added a solid veteran in Chris Gimenez during the off-season, so the club is as loaded at catcher as any A’s team in recent memory.
“We have four guys we feel good about,’’ Melvin said. “DH is a possibility for John, but we do like to rotate the DH spot. As long as he’s a catcher, that’s Option 1 with him.’’
While there is room for Jaso behind the plate, the A’s don’t have an obvious regular DH. So Jaso, who wound up getting 17 starts as the DH a year ago, would seem to be a likely candidate.
“I’m happy about being in the big leagues,’’ Jaso said. “Obviously there are things I want, but I’m happy regardless of the position I’m going to be playing. Would I want to be catching every day? Yes I would.
“I will go out there every day and prepare. I won’t give them any reason for them to not keep me catching. We are a championship team. The fun-est part is the playoffs, and I want to help get us there again.’’
Jaso initially chaffed at the restrictions that kept him from playing in August, September and in the October playoffs against Detroit last season. But he says it was the right thing to do, and three weeks ago he got good news. Dr. Mickey Collins, a Pittsburgh-based specialist in athletes and concussions, said Jaso was 100 percent healthy.
“That’s completely behind me. I went up to see Mickey Collins three weeks ago and went through a period of tests,’’ he said. “I’d flunked them before, but I passed all of them this time. His professional response was that it was behind me. He said `You are back to where you were.’ He said I’m now smarter as to how much of a beating my body can take.’’
That was only part of the good news for Jaso this off-season. He got married and he and Shannon Jaso “have taken a nice little vacation.’’
Jaso averaged .271 and had three homers and 21 RBIs in 70 games. His 38 walks left him with a .387 on-base percentage, which was fifth in the American League for hitters with 200 or more plate trips.
The A’s still have six arbitration-eligible players on the roster, outfielders Craig Gentry and Josh Reddick, pitchers Luke Gregerson and Jim Johnson, shortstop Jed Lowrie and first baseman Brandon Moss.