OAKLAND – A’s starting rotation candidate Chris Bassitt hopes to spend lots of time inside O.co Coliseum this season.
He wouldn’t mind sneaking a little time next door at Oracle Arena either.
Bassitt, a right-hander acquired from the White Sox in the Jeff Samardzija trade, happens to be quite the Klay Thompson fanatic. By extension, he’s also become a huge Golden State Warriors fan. It all stems from Bassitt’s friendship with Trayce Thompson, Klay’s younger brother and an outfielder in the White Sox’s farm system. Bassitt and Trayce Thompson were teammates at the Single-A and Double-A levels over the past two seasons.
“That family is unreal. First class …” Bassitt said Monday during an A’s media session at the Coliseum. “I know that whole family very, very well. It’s unbelievable how nice they are.”
And since Klay Thompson has busted out and become an NBA All-Star, it’s been one entertaining basketball season for Bassitt to enjoy. Just don’t tell anyone back home. Bassitt jokes that he kept his Klay Thompson love under wraps in his native Ohio, where another NBA star reigns supreme.
“I’m a huge LeBron fan,” Bassitt said. “But it’s like, OK, I actually have a reason now to root for (Thompson) without people saying ‘You’re a bandwagon fan!’ Golden State is easily the most exciting team to watch, there’s no question about it. I’m glad I have a reason now to like them.”
When Bassitt got invited to attend the A’s FanFest, which was held Sunday, he checked the Warriors’ schedule and was disappointed to see they were on an East Coast road trip. But he said he’s eager to take in a game at Oracle eventually.
His immediate focus will be trying to win a spot in the A’s rotation. One of four players the A’s received from Chicago in the Samardzija deal, Bassitt is among a large group of candidates that will be fighting for one of three rotation spots behind Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir.
Bassitt knows about the A’s history of molding young pitchers into quality major league starters, and that’s why he was excited when he found out he was part of the Dec. 10 trade. That news took a while to confirm though.
The night before the trade was announced, a fake report circulated that stated a different pack of players was heading to Oakland (Trayce Thompson happened to be one of the players mentioned in that phony report).
“I was texting my friends from the White Sox saying ‘Hey, hate to see you go. Good luck,’” Bassitt said, chuckling at the memory. “This is at one in the morning. Then I wake up, and the same people I texted, they were texting me saying, ‘I didn’t get traded, you got traded.’
“It was funny how it all worked out. But I’m glad to be here.”
After the trade, Bassitt looked at the piles of leftover White Sox gear he had and got an idea – stage a fan giveaway on Twitter.
“I figured I’d tweet it out, and 15 people would say, ‘Gimme it.’ Not the five or 10,000 or however it happened,” he said. “It’s cool, it’s like giving back. The game gives you so much, you gotta give it back somehow. Anyone who responded … I told my brother, my mom, my dad, ‘Pick one person.’ They all picked one person and I sent them whatever I had – bags, shorts, sweat pants, sweatshirts.”
Bassitt, who turns 26 later this month, went 1-1 with a 3.94 ERA in six appearances (five starts) last season for the White Sox, his first taste of the majors. That stint included a six-inning, one-run outing against the A’s in Chicago.
Now, as the Warriors look to continue their magical season, Bassitt – a point guard back in high school – hopes to make the Coliseum mound his new home.
“I feel like the A’s are an organization that everybody knows what they do,” Bassitt said. “They get the best up-and-coming talent, obviously they don’t spend a ton of money, and they roll with it and have great success doing it. It’s just great to be a part of it.”