Derek Norris is the only healthy experienced catcher the A’s have left for the moment.
Bob Melvin faced a decision Friday that hadn’t cropped up all year.
Catcher Geovany Soto felt his back go when he dug a strike thrown by starter Jason Hammel out of the dirt and fired to first base.
Soto had to come out of the game. In better days, Melvin could have thrown one of his multitudes of other catchers out there. But John Jaso and Stephen Vogt are both injured and not even with the team.
So his choice was between moving Derek Norris from DH to catcher and giving up the designated hitter for the rest of the night or inserting catcher Bryan Anderson in.
Celebrations like this May 27 grand slam from Derek Norris have been hard to come by for the A’s lately
The A’s could get Coco Crisp and John Jaso back this weekend and Sean Doolittle back early next week.
When they do, the A’s will start looking a little more like themselves.
This team is not the team it was at the end of June.
Back then they were trotting out a three-catcher platoon, with Jaso, Derek Norris and Stephen Vogt all major contributors. Yoenis Cespedes was in left field. Brandon Moss was at first base.
Jesse Chavez, Drew Pomeranz and Brad Mills were all in the starting rotation.
With such a drastic makeover, it’s small wonder that the A’s aren’t playing like they did in April, May and June.
Stephen Vogt is playing on a painful right foot and producing.
Stephen Vogt has spent enough of his career not playing in the big leagues that the last thing you’ll ever see him do is ask for time off.
The veteran catcher/outfielder is not asking for it now.
But when you watch him limp around the A’s clubhouse after a game, you wonder what his pain threshold is and whether time off would help. On the field as the A’s first baseman Friday night, Vogt seemed to be able to make all the plays needed.
Stephen Vogt finds there’s a first time for everything, including stolen bases.
Stephen Vogt had played in 86 big league games without ever having stolen a base, so there was every expectation he’d make it 87 Monday.
He didn’t. On base in the fourth inning of a scoreless A’s-Tigers game with two out and Alberto Callaspo at the plate, Vogt took off.
The suitably surprised Tigers didn’t come close to denying him his first Major League steal.
“(First base coach) Tye Waller was telling me to look for an opening,’’ Vogt said. “The pitcher (Anibal Sanchez) was slow to the plate and everything was consistently high. I felt it was a good opportunity.’’
Derek Norris may need a day or two off after getting winged by a foul tip Friday, but X-rays revealed no break.
Friday evening produced a win for the A’s, but they also seem to have dodged a bullet regarding catcher Derek Norris.
He’s been hit repeatedly by bats on backswings this month and has been able to soldier through.
He was winged by a foul tip in the sixth inning. Manager Bob Melvin and the training staff checked him out, but Norris convinced them he was good to go. However when the seventh inning began, Norris had been replaced by Stephen Vogt.
“I didn’t want to come out; I never want to come out,’’ Norris said. “But when I came back to the dugout, it really tightened up on me. And it got to the point where I didn’t want to risk me messing up.
Derek Norris has been a major part of A’s three-headed catching corps.
The only way for the A’s to get more out of their catchers than they do is to play them all at the same time.
So that’s what they’re doing.
By the time Tuesday night was over, A’s catchers John Jaso, Stephen Vogt and Derek Norris combined to go 7-for-8 with two doubles, a homer and seven RBIs in the A’s 10-6 win over the Rangers.
It’s been like that a lot for the A’s, who have seen all three catchers come on strong lately.
Vogt had three singles and two RBIs, is hitting .359 for the year and has a six-game hitting streak going.
Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes are big parts of A’s muscle machine.
T-shirt fads come and go in baseball clubhouses, and another one may have arrived in the Coliseum Friday.
As they came off the field after batting practice, A’s sluggers Brandon Moss, Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes each were presented with a green shirt with the letters “RUN DMC’’ stacked. Above “RUN’’ in smaller type was the word “Home’’ and under “DMC’’ were the letters 20 37 and 52.
Those are the jersey numbers of, in order, Donaldson, Moss and Cespedes, the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 hitters in the A’s lineup most nights and to whom the “DMC’’ refers in the local spinoff of the 1980s hip-hop legends.
Setup man Ryan Cook should be activated for Tuesday’s game in New York.
As May turned to June, the A’s found themselves closer to the roster they thought they might have in April.
Sunday’s recall of catcher Stephen Vogt gives the club three catchers, meaning manager Bob Melvin can play two of them on any given day (one of them as the designated hitter) and still have the ability to pinch-run.
That’s the way things worked for much of the middle of the 2013 season before injuries got in the way.
More than that, having a three-catcher ensemble means Melvin doesn’t have to fret about the scenario of having to either give up the designated hitter or have third baseman Josh Donaldson, a former catcher, get back behind the plate.
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.
Catcher Stephen Vogt got the bad news Saturday he is off to 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.
This is the week that will determine Chris Gimenez’s season.
Claimed on waivers by Oakland as the fourth man to add to what was a three-man catching rotation, Gimenez is a 31-year-old veteran who has logged creditable time with the Indians, the Mariners and the Rays.
He’s not going to make the A’s roster, which may not have room for three catchers, much less four. He’s out of options, so he can be a free agent once the A’s set up their roster and he’s not on it.