OAKLAND – Michael Choice will make his major league debut today, and A’s manager Bob Melvin said he’s willing to play the highly touted outfielder more if his performance dictates it.
Choice is batting ninth and serving as the designated hitter in the opener of an important three-game series against the first-place Texas Rangers. Left-hander Derek Holland is starting for the Rangers, and Melvin saw it as a good opportunity to slip the right-handed hitting Choice into the lineup.
“He had a great year, he hit for a high average, he was consistent the whole year,” Melvin said. “This is kind of a reward to bring him to the big leagues, but he’s also a guy that obviously we feel like we can use. … We try to run out the best lineup on a particular day. His performance will dicate how many at-bats he gets.”
With the A’s leading the wild-card race and just one game out of first in the A.L. West, the team’s September call-ups won’t simply be thrown into the lineup regularly to be evaluated for 2014. Melvin said Oakland’s first wave of call-ups – Choice, second baseman Jemile Weeks, infielder Andy Parrino and lefty reliever Pedro Figueroa – all were promoted because they can fill needed roles down the stretch.
Melvin pointed out Choice’s ability to knock the ball out of the park. Choice, listed at 6 feet and 215 pounds, hit 30 homers for Single-A Stockton in 2011. He had just 14 homers for Triple-A Sacramento this season, but club officials believe he’s become a more well-rounded hitter. Choice hit .302 this season, his highest average of his professional career.
“He knows how to hit,” said A’s catcher Stephen Vogt, who played alongside Choice at Sacramento. “A lot of times you see a young guy like that who is strong and everybody talks about his power. People don’t talk about his ability to work an at-bat and actually just hit. That’s what I was most impressed with.”
Making his debut against the Rangers will be special for Choice, who was born in Fort Worth, Texas, attended the University of Texas-Arlington and now lives in Arlington, where the Rangers play their home games.
He was all smiles as he entered the A’s clubhouse Sunday morning.
“I’m excited,” Choice said. “It was definitely a shock to the system (to be promoted) but I’m happy to be here.”