SEATTLE — It figures that Marcus Semien and Matt Chapman eventually will start to jell on the left side of the infield, their offensive production jointly providing the A’s a welcome boost.
Right now, they’re at different stages coming back from their separate layoffs. Semien, who has played two games at shortstop since returning from wrist surgery that cost him nearly three months, drove in the A’s only two runs Friday night with a double in a 7-2 loss to the Mariners.
He also drove a ball to the wall in left-center that fell just a few feet short of being a game-tying homer in the eighth. The indications are he could be up to speed quickly after a lengthy rehab assignment in the minors.
Chapman, the rookie third baseman, is mired in a 1-for-18 funk with nine strikeouts since returning from a 13-game absence that included a hospital stay for an infection in his left knee. He went down swinging in all three of his at-bats Friday on a night the A’s had no answer for Seattle lefty James Paxton.
“It’s not an easy thing to do, sit for a while like that and a couple days later you’re in the big leagues,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Once he gets a couple hits he’ll be fine. But his timing might be off a little bit.”
The A’s in general seemed off Friday. They scraped together just three hits, and center fielder Rajai Davis admitted to a mental gaffe when he lost track of the number of outs in the third inning. That led to Robinson Cano scoring on a sacrifice fly as Davis began trotting in after catching Kyle Seager’s fly ball.
“It was a brain fart,” said Davis, who has lost playing time recently to rookie Jaycob Brugman in center.
With the A’s at 38-49 and buried in the American League West, their season is becoming more about the development of individuals and different segments of the team, and less about what happens on the scoreboard. That’s where it will be interesting to watch what kind of chemistry Semien and Chapman develop on the left side of the infield.
Semien says there’s already a familiarity based on having played with Chapman for the past two springs.
“I know he’s a great athlete, I know he has great range,” Semien said. “That makes it easier for a shortstop if a third baseman has great range. And he’s got a great arm. He’s got all the tools. We communicated well together, played together plenty in the spring. Plus, he’s a great kid.”
Chapman is showing his arm strength at third and is particularly adept at charging balls and throwing to first on the run. But there’s no doubt he’s knocking off rust at the plate after playing just two rehab games in the minors following his time off. At their best, he and Semien will both add power wherever they hit in the A’s lineup.
As for Semien’s own offensive game, he says it’s coming around. He’s 2-for-7 with a walk and three strikeouts since coming back.
“I just want to continue to work hard, put work in the cage and watch video,” he said. “I feel healthy now. It’s just a matter of finding my rhythm.”