MESA, Ariz. – What exactly does Marcus Semien do for an encore after the Cactus League debut he enjoyed Tuesday?
The A’s young shortstop homered off Madison Bumgarner in his first plate appearance wearing green and gold, then went deep again as part of his 4-RBI afternoon in the A’s 9-4 victory over the Giants.
It was quite a first impression, and quite a way to break the ice for a newcomer who the A’s hope will lock down their shortstop job.
Semien got things started early for the A’s, putting a charge into an 0-2 pitch from Bumgarner in the first and sending it over the wall in left-center for a two-run homer.
“The first game there’s a little bit of jitters,” said Semien, 24. “No matter how many intrasquads you play or how many fungoes you take, you’re playing against a different team, you’ve got fans in the stands. It’s nice to get the first one out of the way.”
Semien came up against reliever Brett Bochy in his second at-bat and grounded an RBI single up the middle. In the fifth, he got an 0-1 pitch on the inner half from Cody Hall and connected for a solo shot that gave the A’s a 6-2 lead.
“It’s a new team, a lot of expectations,” manager Bob Melvin said. “To have a game like that I know makes him feel pretty good. It makes you feel like you belong a lot sooner.”
Melvin has been careful not to anoint Semien the starter at shortstop in the media, but the Bay Area native was acquired from the White Sox in the Jeff Samardzija deal with the idea of him being taking over that spot after Jed Lowrie left via free agency.
His main test all spring might come defensively, but Tuesday’s performance with the bat showed the offensive potential that caught the A’s eyes. Semien has just 85 games of major league experience, but he’s hit eight home runs in that span. He’s getting his first opportunity to play shortstop regularly in the majors.
“This being a new team for him and being a lot younger, I think it’s good for him to get off to a good start and get comfortable,” second baseman Ben Zobrist said. “And to know that’s his spot right there at shortstop, that he’s gonna be there and get all the at-bats he needs to get to get ready for the season.”