OAKLAND — The early take on Ryon Healy is that he’s a guy of boundless energy and enthusiasm.
On Saturday, the rookie gave his A’s teammates something to be energized about.
Healy’s three-run shot off R.A. Dickey not only accounted for his first major league hit, it gave Oakland the lead for good on a day that Sonny Gray finally returned to the win column in a 5-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
“He’s a confident kid, that was apparent right away (in spring training),” manager Bob Melvin said. “But now, when you see him first-hand in a big league uniform taking these type of at-bats against major league pitching, it’s apparent he’s got a lot of confidence in himself.”
Promoted from Triple-A Nashville on Friday, Healy drew a tough assignment in his second major league start with Dickey. Never before, at any level, had he faced a knuckleballer, and he nearly swung out of his cleats fouling a ball off early in his first at-bat in the second inning. Then on a 2-2 count, he drove a 66 mile-per-hour knuckler that curved over the left field wall and stayed fair, turning a 2-1 A’s deficit into a 4-2 lead.
“Once it went out, just a big rush of adrenaline went through my body,” Healy said. “… I saw the guys standing at home plate. They gave me a big high five. I liked the guys in the dugout who gave me the silent treatment, which I love. I actually caught a glimpse of my family as I was running into the dugout, so that made it even more special.”
Healy, a 24-year-old Southern California native, estimated he had about 12 people in the stands, including his parents and girlfriend. In the past week, he’s played in the Futures Game, got word of his first big league call-up and learned he’s been installed for a trial run as the A’s everyday third baseman. This from a guy who got the disappointing news in spring training that he would be returning to Double-A Midland to begin this season after spending all of 2015 there.
Engaging and animated with the media, he hardly seems overwhelmed by his surroundings in a major league clubhouse.
“I think you have to believe that you belong, and just really run with that. That’s no matter where you are in life,” Healy said. “The borderline between arrogance and confidence, I like to hover on the confident aspect of it rather than the arrogant.”
Healy added that slipping right into a regular pregame work routine, including defensive drills with infield coach Ron Washington, hasn’t left much time for butterflies.
“The guys have been great about it, getting me out there for early work on the field,” he said. “When you come up like this, it can be real easy to get overwhelmed by everything. But when you go through the routine that you understand and makes you feel comfortable in the cage, and the defensive work with Wash, it really helps simplify things.”
Gray notched his first victory since April 22, throwing six innings of three-run ball and overcoming four walks to snap a streak of 12 starts in a row without a win. He got a big assist from Khris Davis, who homered twice and has gone deep three times in the first two games of the second half. His second home run was an opposite-field shot that reached the seats in right-center. It was territory that Melvin estimated only a handful of right-handed hitters in the game can reach, and it wasn’t like Davis benefited from Dickey’s velocity. That homer came on a 79 mile-per-hour knuckleball.
“It looked like a golf ball,” Melvin said. “It just kept getting smaller and smaller.”
The A’s have grown accustomed to Davis’ power this season. They’re still getting to know Healy, who has shown some nice defensive skills at third.
“I like his energy,” Davis said of the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Healy. “He comes out not scared. He’s big and physical. I can’t wait to see more.”