Target Practice: Athletics 3B Chapman Finds Cardboard Cutouts Have Some Game

Oakland Athletics third baseman Matt Chapman has been throwing balls into the stands before games and in between innings, often aiming at the cutouts that now populate the stands, and he's here to tell you, the cardboard cutouts aren't breaking down even when he hits them with his best stuff.
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Each day on this homestand, and in most games this season, Matt Chapman has finished his pregame warmups by throwing baseballs into the stands.

And he’ll do it after warmups before innings and after innings, too, if the ball comes to him.

Sometimes he’ll just let one fly into the left field bleachers, just to stretch things out. Other times he’ll use the cutouts of fans, fans’ pets, other players and who knows what all as target practice.

He’s here to disabuse you of the notion that the cutouts are just some sort of knockoff flimsy cardboard. These cutouts have some game.

“I’m not gonna lie; they’re pretty durable,” Chapman, the Oakland A’s two-time Platinum Glove winner, said Sunday morning. “I got pretty angry one time in Seattle (last weekend). When let one rip at the cutout and it just ricocheted off.

“I was like, `This is for sure going to break the cutout.’ And like no. So obviously I was more mad after that.”

Chapman, blessed with one of the strongest arms of any third baseman in the game today, says it’s fun, but he’s talking about backing off.

“Now I need to tone it down because I didn’t realize how many balls I was chucking into the stands a game, and my arm was getting sore.

“But, yeah, I was aiming for cutouts just as target practice for fun. I aim out our pitchers (cutouts) sometimes. I was getting pretty good at hitting the close targets, so I started going for further targets, then the arm started getting sore.”

He enjoys it so much he’s asked for an intervention.

“I’ve told Marcus (shortstop Marcus Semien) and all them If I ask for the ball, just don’t give it to me. I’m like the kid who can’t control themselves. So just don’t even give me the option to throw the ball.”

A’s manager Bob Melvin hasn’t monitored his third baseman’s throwing antics, but he knows what’s happening. And he accepts it in a boys-will-be-boys way.

“I don’t know what (Chapman is) aiming for,” the manager said. “It’s only natural. It seems like those cutouts are pretty sturdy. I haven’t heard of anything snapping off yet.”

Melvin suggest it’s a natural outlet for the infielders in particular because infield warmups between inning have been cut back as part of the coronavirus protocols.

“We don’t throw the ball around the infield as much on defense,” Melvin said.

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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