OAKLAND — Stephen Vogt talked proudly of being voted for a third time by his teammates the winner of the Jim “Catfish” Hunter Award.
It’s given to the A’s player who best exemplifies the competitive and inspirational spirit of Hunter, the A’s Hall of Fame pitcher who helped anchor three World Series championship teams from 1972-74. Vogt becomes the first Athletic ever to win the award three times.
“I’m blown away and honored to be recognized again by my teammates,” the 31-year-old catcher said. “The highest honor you can have is to have your teammates vote for you in this regard. Catfish Hunter, I’m hearing more and more stories every year I’ve been here, just about the teammate and the guy he was.”
Given the criteria, Vogt could probably win the award any season that he suits up in an A’s uniform. The character he shows and the respect he commands in the clubhouse is unquestioned. And as the A’s have traded away several key veterans who wielded important clubhouse influence over the past couple of years — Josh Reddick, Rich Hill, Coco Crisp and Scott Kazmir among them — Vogt’s leadership seems to emerge as being even more important. That’s a responsibility he takes seriously.
“You look at who we’ve lost over the last few months and it hurts,” Vogt said. “To lose a guy like Reddick and Coco, guys who have been here as long as I have — and really, been here longer than I have — those are huge (guys to lose), not only in this clubhouse but with the Oakland A’s fans. We miss them.
“That being said, we’ve had to move on quickly. The mood in this clubhouse has been very good the last few weeks. Anytime there’s this much change in a season, it’s really hard to get that.”
A’s utility man Arismendy Alcantara will miss the final 10 games after spraining his right thumb while diving into second base on a steal attempt to end Wednesday’s game. No surgery will be required, according to manager Bob Melvin.
Where Alcantara fits into the major league picture for 2017, if at all, remains to be seen. He hit just .211 (4-for-19) with two RBI in 16 games with Oakland, spending much of his time in Triple-A after being acquired from the Cubs in June for Chris Coghlan. On the plus side, he’s one of the fastest players in the A’s organization and is a switch hitter with the ability to play both middle infield spots and the outfield. He stole three bases but was also caught stealing three times.