It’s not that Sam Fuld enjoys running into walls.
He just doesn’t see another option.
As long as a ball is in the air and available to be caught, Fuld is going to do whatever he can to catch it.
And whatever he can do is quite a bit.
The Stanford grad, in the A’s camp in competition to make the squad as a reserve outfielder, is something of a cult hero in baseball circles among those who prize defense above all else.
He’s been known as “Super Sam,’’ `The Legendary Sam Fuld,’’ and simply “Superman.’’ Once in Tampa Bay, manager Joe Maddon said “Superman wears a Sam Fuld T-shirt to bed.’’ The Rays once made one of their seasonal giveaways a Sam Fuld Superman cape.
Much of the “Superman’’ talk came from a video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cn0n9vki_JM – of a game-saving catch Fuld made in April of 2011, in his first season with the Rays.
“My philosophy is see the ball and go get it,’’ Fuld said. “It’s pretty simple. That’s just the way I like to play.
“The whole internet thing, that just sort of happened. It wasn’t me driving it. I’ve always enjoyed getting to the ball, maybe even running into it if it helps the team. The only thing I don’t want to do is run into another player.’’
The Rays let Fuld go at the end of the 2013 season and the A’s picked him up, even though the outfield seems loaded with three incumbent starters in Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp and Josh Reddick and a prime backup in Craig Gentry.
But Gentry is out until next weekend, so that means added at-bats for Fuld, who has started four of the first five Cactus League games, including Sunday’s 3-2 win over the Angels in Tempe.
Shortstop Jed Lowrie, who was with Fuld at Stanford, is a big fan.
“This is a guy that will do everything he can to help his team win,’’ Lowrie said. “Everything.’’
Lowrie said he hasn’t seen the video of Fuld that went viral. He said it surprises him not a bit, however, having seen the spectacular defensive work Fuld did for the Cardinal.
“I’ve watched him make highlight catches since college,’’ Lowrie said. “It’s the jumps he make, the direction to the ball he takes. It’s like he knows where the ball is going to go before the batter makes contact.
“On top of that, he has great speed to run things down in the outfield. He’s just a fun guy to watch play baseball.’’