Looking at the Other Side of the Athletics' Late Start to MLB Workouts

John Hickey

The A’s got off to a bit of a late start in the run-up to the much-delayed start to the 2020 season, and there wasn’t anybody in the Oakland organization who wasn’t pissed off about it.

Exhibit A: Third baseman Matt Chapman. Exhibit B: Lefty reliever Jake Diekman. Exhibit C: General manager David Forst. Exhibit D: Manager Bob Melvin.

So, the A’s haven’t started intrasquad games, even though other clubs have. And Oakland pitchers aren’t as stretched out as those in other camps.

And you can take those as negatives. Players are competitors, and they don’t like to think that anybody else is getting a leg up on them.

There is, as Melvin reminded us Thursday, another side to the issue.

The A’s have one COVID-19 coronavirus victim. starting pitcher Jesus Luzardo. He says he's feeling good, and on Thursday, Melvin didn't want to talk much about his rotation, a subtle hint that perhaps there might still be room in it for the left-handed rookie.  

While not every Major League Baseball player who has tested positive for the virus has been identified, at least five teams – the Phillies, the Twins, the Marlins, the Diamondbacks and the Red Sox– have had at least four players test positive, and it’s likely the list is longer than that.

One thing some of those teams did was get a jump on the return, opening spring training camps for workouts. Players got in their work, but some of them got sick. 

The A’s didn’t open their camp in Mesa, Ariz., and they waited until July 3 to open camp, adhering to Alameda County health rules. There have been glitches with testing procedures that have aggravated players and staff, but it’s clear the A’s were trying to do their work without jeopardizing anyone’s health.

“What kind of stands out to me is the fact that I see at a lot of facilities, pitchers are throwing 60 pitches the first time out,” Melvin said. “And that probably has something to do with teams have spring training camps open.

“There is a reason we didn’t (open in Mesa). When you look at our (low number of) COVID cases, that’s the reason that we didn’t. So, in that respect, we’re probably ahead of some of these other teams as far as the number of healthy guys that we have.”

NOTES: Mike Fiers, who like Luzardo, was held out of the teams first two workouts while waiting for testing clearance, threw a bullpen for the first time Thursday. ... Melvin said reliever Lou Trivino had to be held out of work for a couple of days because of shoulder soreness, but said the right-hander is good to go now.

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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