Wednesday’s A’s starter, Chris Bassitt, brings a streak of four starts in which he’s allowed just one run into his wild card meeting with the Chicago White Sox.
He told the story Tuesday about how he used a series of extra bullpen sessions enabled by the A’s being unable to play for five days in late August and early September over a positive COVID-19 test for A’s pitcher Daniel Mengden to get things right.
It makes sense, as far as it goes.
But ask Oakland closer Liam Hendriks, and you’ll hear a suggestion that Bassitt’s turnaround is all about him not entirely making sense.
“I think, to be honest he embraced his weird, he embraced his inner weird,” Hendriks said Wednesday before Bassitt was to start Game 2 of Oakland’s American League wild card series against the Chicago White Sox. “I was able to do it a couple of years ago where I just kind of said, `Screw it, I’m gonna be me, I don’t care about what anybody else thinks.’
“He didn’t care what his role was. He didn’t care which was he was going. He didn’t care if he was in the bullpen or the rotation. Once he got onto that, okay he’s in the rotation and it’s just embrace the weird thing. We’ve got a very dynamic starting rotation between (Sean) Manaea, him and you get Frankie (Montas) in there and Mike Fiers would kind of loosen the load as well. You add in Zeus (Jesús Luzardo) and Mike Minor as well.
“But Bassitt embraced his inner weird, he embraced it fully and everyone embraced him because of it.”
Hendriks suggested that it might not work well in some Major League clubhouses, but Bassitt is “accepted as being a little bitt of a goofball; it’s a bit part of where he’s at now.”
Asked about the single most weird part of Bassitt being Bassitt, Hendriks didn’t break stride talking about his buddy.
“I’m gonna go ahead and say when he gets the toddler sugar highs and he just starts running around the clubhouse like a crazed-out sugar-high toddler,” Hendriks said. “It’s usually where I’ just sitting there, like I don’t know how you have so much energy, but I appreciate it.”
Hendriks isn’t alone in this assessment. Fellow reliever Jake Diekman sees the weird, too.
“He brings a whole lot of energy and a whole lot of Red Bulls with him,” Diekman said.
And manager Bob Melvin suggests that he finds Bassitt to be … special. Told about Hendriks’ toddler description of Bassitt, the manager said he’s seen that plenty.
“He gets more and more comfortable every year,” Melvin said. “I don’t know if I’ve had too many pitchers as long as I’ve had Chris. So, I’ve been around him for a long time now and I’ve seen him mature. I’ve seen the stuff get better. I’ve seen the confidence grow.
“I’ve seen him grow up at the big-league level. I’ve also had some very difficult conversations with him, sending him down and so forth, and yeah, I have seen that.”
Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3
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