Outgoing batting coach Chili Davis said the A’s made a good effort to try and keep him in the organization, but when Oakland couldn’t go to three years on a contract the way Boston did, that started him on the path to joining the Red Sox.
Length of contract was important, but it wasn’t the only reason he’s in Boston. There were expectations that he’d go to the Yankees, but he’d worked in the minor leagues with Boston before joining the A’s under manager Bob Melvin three years ago, and that held some sway, too.
“The A’s tried, but it just wasn’t sufficient,’’ Davis said told this newspaper Monday. “I wanted to know I would be somewhere more than two years.
“Everybody had me going to Yankees because I played there,’’ Davis said. “It was strong for me, knowing (GM Brian) Cashman and (manager Joe) Girardi. What really pulled me the other way was that I had worked for the Red Sox and I was familiar with some of the staff and a lot of the players.’’
One of the players he’s most familiar with is Yoenis Cespedes, dealt from the A’s to the Red Sox at the trade deadline. There have been rumors floating around that the Sox are trying to trade Cespedes, but Davis said during the interviewing process the talk was about Cespedes being part of the Red Sox going forward.
“It will be nice to be there with him,’’ Davis said. “I know they love him there.’’
As for the team he’s leaving behind, Davis said he exits with good memories and the belief that the A’s offense will be a power again in 2015 and that the skid in the final months of 2014 was just one of those things that can happen in a six-month season.
“They have a core of good guys there,’’ David said, rattling off the names of all of the starters and some of the reserves. “No one should look at what happened at the end of 2014 as a decline in production. What people don’t understand is that Josh Donaldson played every day the second half with injuries that should have been allowed to heal, but he wouldn’t come out of the lineup.
“Brandon Moss, the same thing. Coco (Crisp) played most of the season hurt but was in there whenever he could be. We lost (catcher John) Jaso for a lot of the second half. Stephen Vogt had a bad right foot and shouldn’t have been playing as much as he did. Dino (catcher Derek Norris), the same thing.
“These were guys who were injured but who opted to go out there every day because we had a goal in mind as a team. They didn’t want to sit out. Coco was injured over and over again, and he kept coming back out there. If these guys do what they have to do in the off-season and heal up, there is no reason they won’t be just as competitive next year.’’
Vogt had surgery on his right foot last week and is looking at a two-month recovery. Moss is due for surgery on his hip Tuesday. The rest of the players cited by Davis just seem to need rest.
Davis will spend some time watching the Giants and the Royals in the World Series this week, but he said people will never know just how close, from an Oakland perspective, it came to being an A’s-Giants World Series.
“We had a lot of guys who sucked it up to get to that one-game playoff, and we were in position with the lead (7-3) after seven innings,’’ Davis said. “I thought Lester threw one hell of a ballgame, but the (Royals’) speed was distracting for him and for us.
“But we easily could have won that game. I think we might be in Oakland today preparing for the World Series if we’d held that lead. We played the Angels and the Orioles well; the reason the Angels beat us late in the season is that we weren’t 100 percent.
“Everybody saw the way the one-game playoff boosted the Kansas City offense. It could have done the same for us, too. Moss, Donaldson and Coco were all swinging the bat well again.’’
As for the man who will replace him as batting coach, Davis has no clue about the A’s thinking. But he’s heard the rumors about the club’s interest in Dave Magadan, and he gives that a solid thumb’s up.
“Dave Magadan is a very good hitting coach,’’ Davis said. “He was in Boston (as the Red Sox’s hitting coach) when I came there, he helped me learn the ropes. He truly helped me a lot.’’