Athletics Take Their Game on the Road for the First Time, Looking for Answers

John Hickey

The A’s took a bit of a day of rest Thursday in preparation to make their first road stop in what is now a 60-game season.

Oakland visits Seattle for a four-game series starting Friday with three night games wrapped around a day game Sunday. It’s the first trip for the A’s in the age of a national COVID-19 pandemic.

Players can be expected to found in the team hotel and at T-Mobile Park and give a pass to the rest of Seattle, which under normal times is a terrific place to visit.

“Everybody knows that the next step is what happens with travel and the world on the road,” manager Bob Melvin said.

The A’s are just gone for four days, they come back for seven against the Rangers and Astros, then return for three against Angels to complete a stretch of 14 games in a row. Then after a day off, it’s another 17 games in succession, making for 31 games in 32 days, of which 19 are on the road.

From Aug. 10-Sept. 3, the A’s play 23 games in 25 days, 18 of those games on the road.

Third baseman Matt Chapman admits to some concern about what happens once the A’s leave the Bay Area, where they’ve spent the last month, first doing workouts, then playing a six-game homestand during which they went 3-3. All the while the players and staff were tested for the coronavirus every other day, a process that will continue on the road.

“We’re taking this super serious,” Chapman said earlier this week. “We’re wearing our masks. We’re being smart off the field. But we haven’t done a road trip yet.

“It’s not something to take lightly, and I think if we just pretend like everybody we’re around has it. I know that’s a kind of weird thing to say, but if you pretend that everyone has it and you keep your distance, and take your precautions, at least you’ll know you did everything you could.”

The road has not been particularly kind to Major League teams the first week of the season. Miami was in Philadelphia when more than a dozen players and staff were hit and games were cancelled. The Marlins’ opening day was scratched. Then the Phillies got hit, and their series with the Blue Jays in Philly was halted.

Through it all, there is baseball to be played. Melvin says he wants to use this series against the Mariners to get a start each for second baseman Franklin Barreto and outfielder/first baseman Seth Brown, both of whom have exactly one at-bat one-tenth of the way through the season. And Melvin and general manager David Forst and executive vice president Billy Beane have to decide if Jesus Luzardo’s first big-league start will be Monday in the Seattle series finale.

Sean Manaea, Mike Fiers and Chris Bassitt are set as the first three Oakland starters, but Monday’s game, which would ostensibly go to Daniel Mengden, is being left open.

Luzardo says he’s ready and Melvin said before Wednesday’s game that Luzardo would either pitch in relief Wednesday or start against the Mariners. Luzardo threw 3.2 innings and 67 pitches. Thanks to the day off Thursday, the 22-year-old left-hander would have four days of rest should he get the call Monday.

As for Brown and Barreto, Melvin is concerned that neither man has had a chance to show themselves yet. It’s just over a week before the MLB teams will need to chop their 30-man rosters by two, and Brown and Barreto would be among the prime candidates.

“I do have a game in mind (for Brown),” Melvin said. “He and Barreto an in a tough spot right. It’s only five (now six) games in the course of 60. Hopefully I can get them in one of the games in Seattle.”

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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