SAN FRANCISCO -– A’s manager Bob Melvin has quite a history with freshly minted Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, having managed the fireballing left-hander in the later stages of his career.
Melvin also has quite a boast –- no one ever hit Johnson for a higher batting average among those with more than a handful of at-bats against him. The right-handed hitting Melvin, who saw action with seven big league teams over a 10-year career as a catcher, hit .452 (14-for-31) off the Big Unit.
“Really, why I hit him well I have no idea,” Melvin said Sunday. “He probably felt sorry for me and probably wasn’t too worried about me.”
No one as many as 20 at-bats off Johnson had a higher average, but one player matched Melvin’s stats. Albert Pujols also went 14-for-31 off Johnson. Pretty good company to keep.
Melvin was the bench coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks team that Johnson helped lead to the 2001 World Series championship, then later managed him with the Diamondbacks.
Did he ever needle Johnson about the ownage?
“All the time,” Melvin responded.
Melvin recalled Johnson preparing for his first World Series start against the Yankees in 2001. Randy Velarde was drawing a start against Johnson and also had very good stats against him. But someone else caught Johnson’s attention. The scowling pitcher who no one usually approached on his pitching days made his way to the Diamondbacks’ coaches office.
“He said, ‘Did you know you hit me like that?,’” Melvin recalled. “I said ‘Yeah, you kept me in the big leagues for 10 years.’ And I thought … I thought I saw a smile. A hint of a smile. He turned around and walked out and then went out and threw a shutout.”
In all seriousness, Melvin had nothing but praise for the new Hall of Famer.
“Arguably the best left-hander of all time,” Melvin said. “Certainly maybe the most dominant as far as striking people out and scowls.”
Outfielder Coco Crisp (cervical strain) is set to begin a rehab assignment Monday with Single-A Stockton. Melvin said the team has four games mapped out for now and will extend the schedule from there.
In other injury news, switch pitcher Pat Venditte (strained right shoulder) threw a scoreless inning, all left-handed, Saturday for Stockton. He’ll make another appearance Tuesday and throw from both sides.