OAKLAND – Monday’s promotion of Bruce Maxwell to the big league roster in Oakland means less time behind the plate for catcher Stephen Vogt.
Maxwell was listed as the starting catcher and Vogt as the DH for Monday’s game against the Rangers, the start of which was being threatened by rain.
Vogt has a long history of sustaining minor, and not-so-minor, injuries from his work behind the plate. He has played through most of them, but the A’s feel the two-time All-Star catcher would be well-served by less time catching.
“If we have the ability to give him some time off this year, we’re going to do it,” manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s not 25 years old anymore. He’s a productive bat we need to keep productive.”
The A’s have used Vogt, 32, at first base and in right field at times in the past, but for now he will only DH when he’s not catching, saying “I think we’re covered there,” when asked about the other two positions.
Chris Bassitt will throw in a game in extended spring training Wednesday, and while the A’s don’t want to commit to any timetable with Bassitt after last year’s Tommy John surgery, he seems to be on pace to a mid-season return to the rotation.
Someone who won’t be coming back to the rotation is Felix Doubront. He had Tommy John surgery about the same time as Bassitt last year after having made the rotation out of spring training. Now he’s being groomed as a left-handed reliever. “Felix is being brought back as a reliever,” Forst said. “It gets him back quicker, hopefully. Looking at our organizational depth, left-handed relievers are not one of our strengths right now. Potentially, that’s the quickest way for him to help us here in Oakland.”
Third baseman Ryon Healy didn’t have much in the way of growing pains last year, but his .170 average suggests a certain level of struggle. He didn’t start Monday and isn’t down to start Tuesday. “He’s trying a little too hard right now,” Melvin said. ‘He came up last year and did really well right away and didn’t have to go through tough periods. He’ll get a couple of days off and be back in there on the day off Wednesday.
Sonny Gray threw 2.2 innings in a game at the A’s extended spring training camp in Arizona Monday. Melvin said the reports generally were good on Gray’s 47-pitch day. “He felt good, but got off to a bit of a slow start; the first guy hit a home run,” Melvin said after watching some video of the afternoon’s outing. Afterward the ball seemed to play a little bit better down in the zone. All in all, it’s a good first start for him.”