Skip to main content
Publish date:

Semien Looking for At-Bats as Athletics Attempt to Get Hitters Right for the Playoffs

The Oakland Athletics final week or so of the regular season will be all about getting some hitters more at-bats and giving others time off in an effort to get everyone in prime shape for the playoffs.

Oakland’s lineup is filled with newcomers – Tommy La Stella and Jake Lamb, coming over in the last few weeks from the Angels and the Diamondbacks, respectively.

It’s filled with walking wounded – Marcus Semien (left side) and Stephen Piscotty (right knee) while missing Chad Pinder and Matt Chapman. Pinder and his hamstring strain will return; Chapman, who has already undergone hip surgery, won’t.

It’s filled with slumpers – Mark Canha, Matt Olson and Ramon Laureano, all of whom came into Saturday with batting averages of .230 or less.

It’s not filled with Khris Davis, the 2018 home run champion who has been related to starts against left-handed pitchers. That’s meant he’s started just five of 18 games, including not being in the lineup once again Saturday against the Giants.

Manager Bob Melvin has nine games in nine days, beginning Saturday, to see where his hitters are at. The A’s have sewn up a postseason berth and an American League West Division title could come around any day now. What happens once that goes down?

“It works both ways with some of the injured guys,” Melvin said. “We’ll see where we are with Pinder at some point in time. The other guys need some rest, guys who have been out there every day and grinding through it.

“You always kind of look at is as who needs some time off before (the playoffs). But there are other guys who need some at-bats, too, including a guy like Khris Davis. You have to try to get everybody in the right frame of mind and hopefully get the right amount of at-bats to all of them to be productive.”

Read More

Melvin, who at one point wasn’t expecting Pinder to be back until the postseason, is now hopeful that he can get the veteran outfielder/infielder a game or two during the four-game series in the Coliseum that closes out the regular season against Seattle next weekend.

But for team leader Semien, he knows what he wants and needs. He wants to be in the lineup every day, if possible. He wants the club to “gain momentum going into the playoffs,” and for him, that means at-bats.

“For a guy like me, working through small injuries, you don’t necessarily want to sit out and rest,” Semien said. “You want to get into a rhythm going into it. So for me, that’s what I’m trying to do, take care of my body and get into a good rhythm going into the postseason.”

Along the way, Semien, who as the shortstop has played almost daily with chapman on his right side as the third baseman, he also has to get used to Jake Lamb as the new third baseman.

“You see during the game we’re shifting a lot more,” Semien said of the A’s increased defensive positioning changes. “We’re kind of shifting like the Astros or the Rays. I think it’s been OK; we’ll give up the occasional base hit the other way, but we’re just trying to be more efficient with what we’re doing.

“When we had Chap, we could just play straight-up, play the ball and go. But Lamb is no slouch. Lamb can really pay. He’s got an accurate arm, he can move, so I’m not taking anything away from him, but we’re trying to be more efficient.”

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

Click the "follow" button in the top right corner to join the conversation on Inside the Athletics on SI. Access and comment on featured stories and start your own conversations and post external links on our community page.