OAKLAND – Not many major league teams reach September and find they have a three-man logjam at the catcher position, but the A’s will face that unique situation.
Derek Norris is ready to come off the disabled list Thursday, but how he factors into the playing rotation with Stephen Vogt and Kurt Suzuki remains to be seen.
A’s manager Bob Melvin said he would make that call on a day-by-day basis.
“That will be one we’ll figure out who we think should start on a particular day, which his like every lineup,” Melvin said.
The dilemma will be on days the A’s face a left-handed starter. Norris and Suzuki each hit right-handed, so there’s no natural platoon solution between the two. Presumably, the left-handed hitting Vogt will remain in the lineup against right-handers. He has come up big with the bat in recent games.
Suzuki, who has made six starts since being acquired in a trade from Washington on Aug. 23, is hitting .333 (7 for 21) with a home run and four RBI since then, and the A’s like his familiarity with the pitching staff and his veteran game-calling experience.
But Norris, recovering from a fractured left big toe, has hit .345 (19 for 55) with a .446 on-base percentage since July 1. He homered twice and went 6 for 14 on a three-game Triple-A rehab assignment. He says his toe still causes him some discomfort but that it doesn’t affect his catching or throwing.
Melvin said it’s possible both Suzuki and Norris get playing time.
“I think each of them bring certain attributes and what their strengths are. It doesn’t mean they’re the same,” Melvin said. “Again, we’ll run what we feel is the best lineup out there on a particular day. …It’s gonna be a tough call on who starts when a lefty’s out there. But it’s a better problem to have than not enough guys.”
A fourth catcher, John Jaso, continues a gradual comeback from concussion symptoms, and it appears unlikely he would rejoin the mix behind the plate before the regular season ends.
Right fielder Josh Reddick’s sprained right wrist is responding well when he takes soft-toss swings in the cage, but trainers have yet to clear him for regular batting practice on the field. Melvin said that will provide the indicator of when Reddick can come off the disabled list. He’s eligible to be activated Tuesday.