SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -– As if he didn’t have reason enough to be smiling before Friday’s game, A’s catcher Josh Phegley enjoyed a terrific day on the field against the Diamondbacks.
In his first game back with Oakland since the birth of his daughter, Phegley doubled three times and had three RBI in a 7-2 victory at Salt River Fields. He also threw out Jamie Romak on a steal attempt of second. He made an errant throw to second on another stolen base attempt, but Phegley displayed some the tools that A’s officials liked when they got him from the White Sox as part of the trade package for Jeff Samardzija.
If things go according to plan, the right-handed hitting Phegley will platoon behind the plate with Stephen Vogt, who is recovering from offseason foot surgery.
“It was a very active day,” manager Bob Melvin said of Phegley. “He ran the bases well. He was really receiving the ball well. All the reports we heard about him, the reasons we got him, it's showing up right now.”
Phegley played in Tuesday’s Cactus League opener and then missed the next two games to be with his wife, Jessica, who gave birth Wednesday to their daughter, Stella.
FLASHING LEATHER: Melvin had been wanting to see Marcus Semien get tested at shortstop. The first test came in the bottom of the second Friday when Brandon Drury grounded a ball up the middle. Semien ranged far to his left to snag it and made the difficult throw to first for the out.
“I didn’t think he was gonna get to that play up the middle,” Melvin said. “He actually got it pretty easy and got a little on the throw. Those are the kind of things that the longer you have him out there, and the more you go through spring, you get a better handle on what type of player he is.”
Though third baseman Tyler Ladendorf made an error to go with Phegley’s errant throw, the A’s had their share of defensive highlights on the day. One came in the third when Arizona’s Ender Inciarte grounded a ball to first and Ike Davis threw home to cut down Nick Ahmed.
Second baseman Joey Wendle made a nice play for the game’s final out in the ninth.
FAMILIAR FACE: First-year Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale served as Melvin’s bench coach from 2012-14. It made for a cool moment when the two met at home plate to exchange lineups with the umpires before first pitch. Melvin had said throughout Hale’s time with Oakland that he was manager material, and he’s happy that Hale, who attended Campolindo High in Moraga, is getting that shot.
“He’s a teacher,” Melvin said. “Very rarely these days do you see a teacher in that managing position. He understands the intricacies of all the different positions, and he can teach a 10-year-old kid as well as an All-Star at the major league level. That’s a unique talent to have. He’s gotta be able to delegate, and I think he’s realizing that now. You can’t do it all as a manager.”
ODDS AND ENDS: Mark Canha served as DH and went 2-for-3 with three runs and a double. … Outfielder Billy Burns (2-for-3) had a stolen base for the second day in a row. … Second baseman Eric Sogard, an Arizona State alum, was scheduled to throw out the first pitch Friday night as the Sun Devils hosted Long Beach State at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, the A’s former spring home.
BOTTOM LINE: It’s true that exhibition records don’t mean a thing once the regular season starts. But the A’s are 3-0-1, making them undefeated through four exhibitions for the first time since 1998. Veteran Ben Zobrist mentioned early in camp the importance of a roster with so many newcomers getting off to a good start to build confidence. These wins may not count, but if the A’s continue to play well, it might mean more for them throughout March than it would most teams.