It was a great spring for Stephen Vogt. Right up until Saturday, when he got the word he was being sent down to Triple-A Sacramento.
It wasn’t unexpected, even if it was undeserved. Manager Bob Melvin said it was perhaps the most difficult end-of-spring conversation he’d ever had with a player.
It wasn’t just that Vogt hit .364 with three homers and a dozen RBIs. It was that he’s developed a bond with the A’s pitching staff, he is genuinely liked by A’s teammates and he was a major part of the Oakland success the second half of 2013.
But the decision to go with two left-handed hitting first basemen, Brandon Moss and Daric Barton, meant the squeeze for roster space was on. Vogt, part of a three-man catching rotation last year, was odd man out when the A’s went with two catchers, John Jaso and Derek Norris, leaving Vogt to start in Sacramento.
And he took it hard. He badly wanted to be in Oakland, to the point where “you never want to believe it will happen until it happens,’’ he said.
Melvin took it hard, too.
“He tried to prove he belongs here,’’ Melvin said. “And he did. It’s tough on us all. Will he be here at some point this season? I don’t see how he can’t be.’’
“I’m looking forward to the day I come back,’’ Vogt said.
For that to happen, a roster shift will be needed. As long as the A’s are going to use Barton at first base and Moss as the designated hitter (or vice versa), there isn’t going to be room for a third catcher. And while most teams don’t carry three catchers, the A’s could do it by using Jaso as the primary left-handed DH.
But that would kick Barton off the roster, and that’s not something the A’s are ready to do. So Vogt, who had options where Barton did not, was left to speak with a breaking voice about coming up short.
“It’s a business,’’ he said. “I know that. And I love these guys. That makes it a tough day to get this kind of news.’’