The last time the A’s saw Derek Norris, he was putting his beaten up body behind the plate after Geovany Soto was injured in the American League Wild Card game against Kansas City last Sept. 30.
Norris had no real business being behind the plate, but John Jaso was on the disabled list, Stephen Vogt was playing on one foot and Soto, the man being used as a bridge to get the A’s through to the AL playoffs proper, injured his thumb in the third inning.
He was the last strong-armed catcher the A’s had left and Norris, plagued by back spasms and shoulder issue saw the Royals run on him, taking advantage of his infirmity.
Ten weeks later, he was packaged in a trade with the Padres that brought the A’s Jesse Hahn, who was Oakland’s starter Monday night against San Diego.
Not much of the roster that Norris knew remains, free agency and trades redefining Oakland before the season started and injuries having leveled much of what’s left. But Norris said he thinks at least his deal seems to have worked out for both sides.
“Hahn has pitched well for them,’’ he said. “He would have been in the rotation if he was still here, I’m sure. And things are working out for me here.
Norris is hitting .265 with seven homers and 39 RBIs. And for those questioning his arm strength after the Wild Card game last year, he leads the Major Leagues, having thrown out 20 base runners. His 39 RBIs have all come when he’s been catching, giving him two more than Vogt, who has 37 of his 40 RBIs as a catcher.
“I’m looking forward to talking to him when he comes to the plate,’’ Norris said.
–Billy Butler doesn’t figure to start either of these games with the designated hitter not in play. He says he’ll use that time to work in the batting cage to try and work his way out of a 2-for-26 slump (.077).
–Ike Davis, who had Sunday off on his injury rehab as he comes back from a left quad strain, is down to play nine innings Monday and Tuesday with Triple-A Nashville at home vs. Memphis, after which he could be activated by Oakland.
–Manager Bob Melvin said the Padres’ firing of manager Bud Black issues a little uncertainty into these next four games, two in Petco Park and two more against the Padres in Oakland. With Dave Roberts calling the shots as interim manager, Melvin said it will take a while to have a clear idea who aggressive Roberts will be and what kind of moves he’s likely to make.
–With the A’s 8-1 win Sunday in Anaheim, Oakland is tied with Toronto with the Major League lead in most wins by seven or more runs (eight), which helps explain why the A’s, 13 games under .500 at 26-39 entering the weeks, has outscored its opponents 273-258.
–Interleague update: The A’s came into Monday the only MLB team not to have played an interleague game this season. A’s pitchers have thrown well enough in interleague play, but they haven’t hit a lick. Oakland pitchers are hitless in their last 34 at-bats, with Tommy Milone the last A’s pitcher with a hit back on June 3, 2013 at Milwaukee.