Max Muncy is getting almost no playing time these days, and on Sunday it showed.
Ten days ago, when bringing first baseman Ike Davis and right-handed reliever Edward Mujica off the disabled list, the A’s had a choice to make.
They could keep infielder Andy Parrino, who is a good glove wherever he plays in the infield, or they could keep first baseman/third baseman Max Muncy.
The decision was to go with Muncy, which wasn’t perhaps the obvious choice. He’s left-handed, and so is Davis, so at-bats that Muncy had been getting with Davis on the disabled list were now gone.
And it’s not like Brett Lawrie, the third baseman, takes many day off. So where was the playing time going to come from for Muncy, who is someone the A’s see as an impact bat before his career is done?
On the other side there was Parrino. He is the best defensive shortstop the A’s have, and he’d been getting regular work taking over late in games for Marcus Semien. It could be argued that Semien, seen as the long-term shortstop for Oakland, needs to stay on the field to keep his learning curve high, but with the A’s starting to make a push – they’d won four in a row and six of eight on the day the move was made – a little late-inning defense might make for an extra win here or there.
So how has it turned out? Muncy had gotten into one game in the last 10 days since Davis and Mujica were activated. He hadn’t had an at-bat before getting Sunday’s start. It’s tough to have any offensive or defensive rhythm with that little time on the field, and it showed Sunday.
It was Muncy’s throwing error that led the way to a three-run sixth inning for Kansas City, and inning that proved decisive as the A’s lost for the third consecutive day to the Royals.
At the plate Muncy never got the ball out of the infield in four plate trips. He struck out twice and fouled out in the eighth inning, batting with a runner at second base. After all that time off, it wasn’t a fair test of his competitive ability, and the A’s know that.
Most scouts would say Muncy needs to be playing every day at Triple-A if the A’s don’t have room to play him now, and they don’t.
Muncy wants to be in Oakland, of course, and he refused to hide behind the lack of playing time for his throwing error.
“Not playing every day is no excuse,’’ he said. “When your name is called, you have to make the play. And I didn’t.’’
That response speaks well to Muncy’s maturity level. But if he’s going to be the player the A’s hope he will be, he can’t be sitting and rusting the way he has been. Oakland manager Bob Melvin doesn’t have room in his lineup the way the roster is currently constituted to give Muncy more than a token day here or there.
How is that helping the A’s? How is that helping Muncy?
The answer to both questions is, it’s not.