For a man who it seemed might find himself the odd man out of the A’s offense, Robbie Grossman is doing just fine, thank you very much.
He played in 138 games for the A’s last year, but some of that had to do with injuries to fellow outfielders Stephen Piscotty and Ramón Laureano and the A’s needing somebody to play. The numbers he put up, including a slash line of .240/.3334/.348 to go with six homers and 38 RBI weren’t eye-opening.
Piscotty, Laureano and Mark Canha are all healthy now, meaning that the thing Grossman had going for him entering this shortened 60-game season was the fact they they’re all right-handed and he’s a switch-hitter. That’s of considerable value on a team with only one regular left-hander, first baseman Matt Olson, in the everyday lineup.
So, sure, there was going to be playing time for Grossman. The thing is, there’s always room for productivity, and Grossman has been that. With a two-run bases-loaded double in the bottom of the first inning Wednesday to go with a couple of walks later, Grossman heads into Thursday’s series finale against the D-Backs with a slash line of .292/.452/.615 to which he has 13 RBI – one of six A’s batters with a dozen or more RBI – and four homers, fully two-thirds of his 2019 total.
Simply put, Grossman is forcing playing time, although with the A’s scheduled to see left-handed starters both Thursday and Friday, he will be on the bench for at least one of the games. Probably not both, though, given his .400/.625/.800 slash line in somewhat limited use against lefties.
“Robbie’s been huge for us,” third baseman Matt Chapman said Thursday. “A lot of time we live and die by the home run. But Robbie has been able to be that guy who takes a lot of the pressure off guys to not do too much.
“You look at all the best teams, and it’s not because one guy is doing it; they have a bunch of guys bringing stuff to the table.”
Mark Canha, who was in left field Thursday in place of Grossman, pays homage, too.
“When you look at the numbers, he's by and large our most productive player,” Canha said Wednesday. “Right now, he's absolutely killing it. I think every team kind of needs that guy that cornerstone in the lineup that you know is going to give you a good at-bat. And I mean the way he's slugging right now is just outstanding really kind of picked up our offense I'd say over the past couple of weeks.
“I just see the confidence and him and in his work. You see that in a hitter in their preparation when, when guys there's a certain level of confidence when you get when you kind of know that what you're working on is the right thing and he seems very methodical and very kind of sure of himself and confident in his work.”
Grossman credits not so much a remake of his swings – different from each side – as much as he does give a nod to batting coach Darren Bush.
“I have to give a lot of credit to Bushy,” Grossman said. “He’s given me all the information; he's given me everything I need to become the player that I want to be. He’s shown me the position I need to be in every time to make hard contact.”
And Grossman found that valuable when baseball was shut down for the better part of four month over the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. He returned home to Houston, where both the gym where he worked out and the batting cages where he took his swings were both open.
He took Bush’s principles to work saying he, “never took an off day” from the time baseball was shut down on March 12 until the time MLB reassembled around the Fourth of July holiday.
“It was something that I consciously worked on from when I got home from the season last year to spring training to the quarantine till now,” Grossman said. I’m just trying to do what’s best for the team, putting up quality at-bats every time I step up to the plate.”
He’s got Bob Melvin sold. The manager gets Grossman in the lineup every chance he gets.
“He's having a great year to this point,” Melvin said. “This might be his best start. He’s got a little bit more juice this year with staying back and using his legs a little bit more. It's a really good spot for him there in the lineup to be able to drive in some runs, which in the past has really not been his role. But he's been pretty good force.”
Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3
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