MESA, Ariz. — Anything goes during an early-spring intrasquad game, when no official score is kept, rapid-fire substitutions take place, and innings end abruptly when a pitcher exceeds his pitch count.
Given that context, Bryan Anderson’s most awkward of home-run trots somehow seemed fitting.
Anderson is a non-roster invitee to A’s camp, re-signed shortly before spring training because the A’s were in bad need of catching depth. He delivered one of the biggest highlights of Tuesday’s intrasquad game, drilling a home run to right field off Chris Smith.
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Well aware his heroics were taking place in an informal environment, Anderson reached first base, then began heading back to the first-base dugout. Only after prodding from his teammates did Anderson return to the field and trot around the bases, drawing a delayed (but hearty) ovation from the modest crowd gathered at the A’s minor league facility.
“Those catchers are always trying to save a little energy,” quipped manager Bob Melvin, an ex-catcher himself.
Tuesday’s affair featured more scoring than Monday’s intrasquad matchup. Another non-roster catcher, Matt McBride, also went deep, as did third base prospect Matt Chapman.
Chris Bassitt and Rich Hill, both expected to be part of the rotation, started the game. Hill struggled some with his command and gave up Marcus Semien’s double to the left-field corner and Josh Reddick’s run-scoring single.
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Bassitt delivered a 1-2-3 frame, striking out Coco Crisp looking and Chris Coghlan swinging. So far, the 6-foot-5 right-hander looks comfortable incorporating a new delivery he is patterning after teammate Sonny Gray. It features a lot less movement at the start of his windup, with the ultimate goal being better command of the strike zone.
“There’s not as much over-the-head and moving parts,” Melvin said. “It’s almost like Sonny, where it’s that hybrid stretch/windup thing. But if he can cut down on some of the moving parts he has, he’s gonna throw the ball where he wants to a little more. With the stuff that he has, he has a chance to get better and better and better.”
PROSPECT WATCH: For the second day in a row, Chapman impressed. He doubled to left field in his first at-bat, then showed off his opposite-field power by drilling a homer over the wall in right-center against Patrick Schuster. On Monday, Chapman left his feet for a great stop to rob Billy Burns of extra bases.
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“That looked like a left-handed hitter, and it got out in a hurry,” Melvin said of Chapman’s homer. “Plus defender, plus arm — something to be excited about.”
HEALTH UPDATE: After Melvin said catcher Josh Phegley (shoulder soreness) would be out until at least Friday, Phegley took a couple of at-bats Tuesday though he didn’t get behind the plate. That would suggest he could return to full action very soon. Fellow catcher Stephen Vogt, coming off elbow surgery, is taking live batting practice and still on target to return to full action during the second week of exhibitions.
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LIGHTHEARTED: Crisp wasn’t thrilled when he was called out in the first inning by home plate umpire Phil Pohl, who happens to be the A’s new bullpen catcher. As Crisp circled home plate to walk back to the dugout, he gave Pohl a spirited pat on the backside with his bat, drawing laughs from fans.
ODDS AND ENDS: Sean Doolittle pitched a scoreless inning and fellow reliever Ryan Madson gave up a run on Carson Blair’s RBI single in his inning of work. … After air-mailing a throw home in the first inning, right fielder Sam Fuld nailed Max Muncy trying to advance first to third in the second inning. … Ryon Healy, a corner infielder who spent last season at Double-A, joined the big club for Tuesday’s intrasquad game and hit an RBI triple off the wall in right. … The A’s plan to honor Dave Henderson and Tony Phillips before Saturday’s exhibition against Milwaukee. Both were members of the A’s 1989 World Series championship team, and both passed away recently.