OAKLAND — In just a few days, Zaza Pachulia will be plenty busy inside Oracle Arena.
On Friday night, he showed up next door to take in his first Major League Baseball game.
The Warriors’ new center threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the A’s took on the Rangers.
“I’ve never been to a baseball game, don’t ask me why,” he said while awaiting the moment. “I’m just very excited to be here with my family. Hopefully this will be the point where I really start watching the game.”
Listed at 6-foot-11 and wearing a No. 27 A’s jersey, the 13-year NBA veteran strode to the Coliseum mound and fired away.
It was more of an Eephus pitch than a fastball he delivered. But it was in the vicinity of home plate, and for anyone who saw 50 Cent’s wayward offering before a 2014 Mets game, you know that’s not to be taken for granted.
Pachulia hails from Georgia — the country that borders the Black Sea, not Josh Reddick’s home state. And while baseball isn’t unheard of in his native land, kids aren’t out playing it in the streets much either. But Pachulia, a friendly and chatty sort, hopes to become a converted fan.
“Let’s see how it goes,” he said. “The same thing happened when I went to my first football game. It was the Falcons against the Saints. I kind of just loved it. Since then I became a huge football fan. So hopefully this is the day where I’ll start watching baseball constantly.”
Hopefully the 3-0 A’s loss that unfolded didn’t turn him off the game for good.
On Tuesday, the 32-year-old Pachulia will begin training camp with a Warriors squad viewed by many as the overwhelming favorite to win the NBA championship after adding Kevin Durant. Pachulia’s signing was a complementary move, but an important one given that he’s being asked to fill Andrew Bogut’s shoes in the paint.
“It’s an exciting moment for the franchise, for the fans,” Pachulia said of this year’s Warriors team. “They already have an amazing situation here with the coaching staff and ownership. And the fan base obviously. It’s so special. … That’s why I signed. We can’t wait to start working and bringing things together.”