OAKLAND – An interesting comparison comes to mind for Eric Chavez when he watches current A’s third baseman Brett Lawrie.
“Maybe (Eric) Byrnes in the infield?” Chavez said Monday, drawing laughs. “Reckless abandon. He’s really entertaining to watch. Fans are gonna love him. He’s gonna run hard to first, he’s gonna dive. Maybe he’ll dive more than the A’s want him to. But he plays the game hard and he’s fun to watch.”
Chavez and former A’s teammate Mark Ellis are throwing out ceremonial first pitches for Monday’s season opener against the Texas Rangers. Chavez, a six-time Gold Glove winner at third base for Oakland from 2000-05, has watched Lawrie and likes what he sees. And he sees the former Blue Jay making a smooth transitioning to navigating the hot corner at the Coliseum on a regular basis.
“The foul territory obviously (will be one challenge),” Chavez said. ‘It’s the biggest foul territory in the major leagues. He’ll be just fine. He’s an animal at third base. I love watching him play. We just all hope he stays healthy and puts up good numbers.”
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Chavez and Ellis both said they were happy to see ex-teammate Barry Zito pursuing a minor league assignment with Oakland in the hope of getting back to the majors.
“To play as long as he has in the major leagues and to go back down to Triple-A , it’s a whole other world,” Ellis said. “For him to have that commitment and that passion to still wanna be a baseball player, I think it’s amazing.”
Ellis, who announced his retirement during spring training, said he hasn’t decided yet whether to accept GM Billy Beane’s invitation to join the A’s in a non-playing capacity.
“I’ve thought about it,” he said. “I don’t know what I want to do. I have no idea and I don’t want to go into something half-hearted.”
Sam Fuld draws the start in center Monday with Craig Gentry in right, but manager Bob Melvin said the difference between the two in center is minimal.
“We have some metrics we look at,” Melvin said. “It’s pretty close. … Sometimes it has to do with throwing arm. But we’re comfortable with either of them in all three positions.”
Josh Reddick went 1-for-4 in an intrasquad game with Single-A Stockton, and right-hander Jarrod Parker is scheduled to throw in the same kind of game with the Ports on Tuesday.