The Athletics find themselves in the midst of three very tough series to start their season.
On Tuesday, they head into the second game of a three-game stint against the defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers. Needless to say, it’s been a tough road coming out of the gate.
Matt Chapman and Cody Bellinger, two young MLB stars, find themselves on opposite sides of the field. Despite being competitors, the two have wild respect for one another.
“Yeah, it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s always fun playing against Cody,” Chapman told reporters last week. “We played against each other a lot in the minor leagues. Obviously in the big leagues, being in different divisions we don’t see each other too much, but we got to play each other last year and the year before because of COVID and the NL West, but Cody’s a great player. We actually roomed together in the 2018 offseason for like six weeks, I believe, so we got to know each other pretty well.”
Bellinger, MLB's Flonase spokesperson, knows Chapman’s talents. They’re easy to see the moment he steps on the field.
“I played [the A’s] in 2018 once, so two or four games, I’m actually super close with Chapman," Bellinger told NBC Sports California before the 2021 season began.
"I know him personally -- [he and teammate Matt Olson are] really, really talented baseball players. I played against Olson in the minor leagues for a few years. They’re a talented corner infield and they have multiple Gold Gloves, I think?”
The 2019 NL MVP offered up some advice for himself and his Dodgers teammates going up against the A’s and Chapman.
“Yeah, hit up the middle,” Bellinger laughed.
During the A's 10-3 blowout loss to the Dodgers on Monday, Bellinger was cleated in the middle part of his calf after he got tangled up with A’s reliever Reymin Guduan. It didn’t sound serious, from what manager Dave Roberts said. Bellinger even joked putting ice on it hurt worse than the cleat marks themselves.
Bellinger did have a hit before leaving the game early. And while Chapman loves the player Bellinger is, he believes there’s a time and place for Bellinger to show that off.
“He’s a player that I’ve always respected and hopefully he doesn’t do too good against us,” Chapman said. “I’m always rooting for him, but not when he’s playing the A’s.”