SAN FRANCISCO – Jaff Decker wasn’t planning on getting much sleep Friday night into Saturday.
For one thing, the A’s finished up a night game at AT&T Park, a 2-1 loss to the Giants, then had to come back for a day game Saturday, also against the Giants, as the annual Bay Bridge Series comes to a close.
For another, there was an excellent chance that Decker would find out one way or another whether he was going to make the A’s roster to start the season.
He’s got a chance – the club only has three outfielders on the roster – Khris Davis, Rajai Davis and Matt Joyce – with Jake Smolinski injured and out for the season, although infielders Adam Rosales and Mark Canha have plenty of playing time in the outfield, and a couple of others could play there if pressed. Decker is the only natural backup in center field for Rajai Davis.
And Decker is a left-handed hitter with a bit of power – 92 homers in nine minor league seasons, including a dozen last year at Triple-A – trying to break through with a team that doesn’t have much left-handed pop.
But there only seems to be one open roster spot, and the A’s might use that for an extra man in the bullpen. So it comes down in all likelihood to Decker vs. Frankie Montas, a reliever with a 100-mph fastball who has also shown himself well this spring with a 0.77 ERA and a WHIP of 0.943.
So Decker did his chances of making the team a world of good with a diving catch to probably save a run in center by stealing a hit from Chris Marrero in the seventh Friday. He added to that with a double in the eighth to drive in the A’s only run of the night.
“You’ve got to take advantage of every opportunity you get,” Decker said. “I’d gotten robbed of a hit (Thursday) by him, so it was good to take one away from him.”
Decker has had a decent spring with a .313/.421/.500 slash line, and now it only remains to be seen if that’s good enough to get him on the roster for Monday’s opener against the Angels.
“That was a real nice play he made,” manager Bob Melvin said and he had the hit to give us our only run.”
Before the game Melvin had hinted that Decker might make the team by talking about his other auxiliary outfielders and the roles without mentioning any of them being able to play center field. And the A’s have to have someone who has the manager’s confidence to play the position.
“It could be a long night,” Decker said, smiling. “I’m happy with the way I’ve played this spring. I want to fit in in any way I can here. So, yeah, it could be a little bit of a long night.