OAKLAND — Triple-A Nashville manager Steve Scarsone is fond of pulling pranks on players in delivering the news of their first big league call-up.
He didn’t get that chance with catcher Bruce Maxwell.
As Scarsone was calling Maxwell into his office with news of his promotion, Maxwell was already listening to a voice mail from A’s traveling secretary Mickey Morabito, sharing his itinerary to get to Oakland.
“I didn’t know whether to hang it up or shake his hand,” an amused Maxwell said. “I did both.”
Under any circumstances, hearing about his first major league promotion was welcome for the 25-year-old Maxwell, who was called up because the A’s placed Stephen Vogt on the family medical leave list. Vogt has to remain off the 25-man roster a minimum of three days, and manager Bob Melvin said there was a chance Vogt would return after those three days are up.
In his first taste of Triple-A ball this season, Maxwell has started unlocking the potential that the A’s saw in him when they took him in the second round in 2012 out of Birmingham Southern College. He’s hitting .321 with 10 homers and 41 RBI in 60 games with Nashville, posting a .539 slugging percentage. In a recent surge that earned him Pacific Coast League player of the week honors, Maxwell went 11-for-17 with four homers and 10 RBI in just four games.
Maxwell will be behind the plate Sunday to catch Jesse Hahn, who is also being promoted from Nashville.
“It’s unreal. Every time we look up he's 4-for-5, 5-for-5,” Hahn said. “I'd say he's been our best hitter down there and he's kind of been carrying the team a little bit.”
Melvin said he had some extended conversations with Maxwell over the past couple of springs about the potential he thought Maxwell had.
“I'm proud of the fact that he's made it here,” Melvin said. “He's really worked hard on his craft. He's getting great reviews for his catching and throwing, his framing ability too. He's swinging the bat well. We really felt like coming out of spring, at some point in time, we would see him this year.”
Hahn praised Maxwell’s ability to work with pitchers, his throwing and his instincts on when a runner might try to steal. Maxwell said the strong arm comes from his background as an infielder — he played first and third base early in his college career before converting to catcher after his freshman season.
Once Vogt returns, the A’s will have to decide between Maxwell and Matt McBride as the second catcher. McBride may hold the advantage because he hits right-handed and could form a natural platoon.
Hahn, who has yet to officially be added to the active roster, said he’s simplified his mental approach over the past month or so, and that he’s better off for it. The right-hander was slated to begin the season in Oakland’s rotation but was sent to the minors after a shaky spring. He’s 2-4 with a 6.49 ERA in seven big league starts, and 1-5 with a 3.63 ERA in 12 starts with Nashville.
“There was a month stretch where I was trying to figure things out,” Hahn said. “Too many mechanical adjustments and stuff. I think it became a little mental. And I finally realized that there were just some small adjustments I needed to make and I was just pitching, keeping the ball down and throwing strikes.”
Hahn said he’s looking forward to facing the Rays, the team that originally drafted him in 2010. On Sunday he’ll oppose left-hander Blake Snell, who’s a good friend of his.
Rich Hill will throw off the mound Sunday while wearing a protective guard to cover the blister on his left middle finger. Before he returns to the rotation, the lefty will have to show he’s OK pitching without the guard.
Right fielder Josh Reddick was a late scratch Saturday with back soreness. Jake Smolinski slid over to right field and Coco Crisp entered the lineup in center and is batting leadoff.