Athletics

Bigger than baseball: Piscotty reflects on homecoming in trade to A's

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AP

Bigger than baseball: Piscotty reflects on homecoming in trade to A's

He’ll be playing in front of his family and hometown fans, in the ballpark he grew up going to as a kid.

Stephen Piscotty is fully aware that not many major leaguers get to do this, but his trade from the St. Louis Cardinals to the A’s means so much more on a deeper level.

The Pleasanton native will get to play in front of his mother, Gretchen, who was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”, in May.

It was a difficult and emotional 2017 season for Piscotty, a 26-year-old outfielder who left the Cardinals for a period to be with his family and also dealt with two stints on the disabled list. He struggled to a .235 batting average after a 22-homer, 85-RBI season in 2016.

He admits how difficult it was to concentrate on baseball, with his thoughts drifting back to the Bay Area and his Mom. Piscotty expressed gratitude to the Cardinals for their treatment of him during his tough time and for their efforts in orchestrating a trade that brought him home.

The A’s sent minor league infielders Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock to St. Louis in a deal that was finalized Thursday.

“We’re pretty emotionally tied to that organization,” Piscotty said of the Cardinals. “It chokes me up a little bit. But family obviously comes first, and sometimes some things are more important than baseball. With this opportunity here, it’s just a great combination of family and baseball. … A lot of good is going to come out of it.”

Piscotty and his brothers, Austin and Nick, grew up going to the Coliseum, as his father, Mike, has been an A’s season ticket holder for more than two decades. In May, their tight-knit family was rocked by news of Gretchen’s diagnosis.

“I remember kind of thinking ‘OK, they diagnosed it a certain way but it’s gonna turn out to be something else,” Piscotty said. “I didn’t want to believe it. I kept playing for a couple days, but I was so distracted, I couldn’t focus. I really didn’t care about what was happening on the field.”

Piscotty talked with manager Mike Matheny, hitting coach John Mabry and others.

“They were like, ‘You need to go home,’ and it was the right decision,” Piscotty said. “… It was a roller coaster year. I got sent down (to the minors), but I learned a lot. I’m gonna tap into some of those experiences.”

The A’s feel they’re getting an athletic corner outfielder about to reach his prime. Piscotty inked a six-year $33.5 million before the 2017 season, so he’s locked up at an affordable rate moving forward.

Piscotty has played mostly right field, but he and new teammate Matt Joyce can handle either corner spot.

Though the A’s made the trade primarily for baseball purposes, general manager David Forst added that “it’s wonderful for his family, and hopefully it will have given him and his family some peace of mind.”

Piscotty got news of the trade while in Pebble Beach with friends for a golf trip that had been a long time in the planning. Team orthopedist Dr. Will Workman actually made the drive to Pebble to administer Piscotty’s physical — at a local Airbnb property — so the A’s and Cardinals could finalize the trade.

Piscotty lives in Pleasanton in the offseason, but the family recently made a trip to St. Louis and saw the Budweiser Clydesdales. Gretchen loves horses.

Piscotty is optimistic his mother will be able to get out to the Coliseum to see him play. He credits his father, who has “worked his tail off” to take care of insurance needs and medications for Gretchen.

“We’re in a good place,” Stephen said. “We’re at a point where we’ve got things pretty dialed in and we can move around and go places.”

The support has poured in from St. Louis and the Bay Area. A’s president Dave Kaval, responding to a fan on Twitter, said the team will donate some of the proceeds from Piscotty jersey sales to ALS research.

“I wish I didn’t need all of their support, but it’s nice to have it,” Gretchen Piscotty told the Bay Area News Group.

Stephen, who grew up idolizing Tim Hudson and Mark McGwire, is excited to wear green and gold. Getting to spend more time with his mother provides a different kind of lift.

“That will give me a lot of comfort and peace of mind knowing I’m close.”

A's pummel Padres with barrage of long home runs

A's pummel Padres with barrage of long home runs

BOX SCORE

SAN DIEGO -- Light-hitting Franklin Barreto connected for a 424-foot, three-run home run, one of five long balls the Oakland Athletics hit in routing the San Diego Padres 12-4 on Wednesday.

Josh PhegleyMark CanhaMatt Olson and Jed Lowrie also went deep for Oakland.

The A's hit seven homers in sweeping the two-game series. Stephen Piscotty tied Tuesday night's game with a homer with two outs in the ninth off Brad Hand and Lowie hit a two-run shot with two outs in the 10th for a 4-2 victory.

Barreto and Phegley went back-to-back with their first homers of the season in the second inning off left-hander Joey Lucchesi (3-3), who had been on the disabled list for more than a month. Barreto, hitting .071 coming in and batting seventh, homered into Oakland's bullpen well beyond the fence in center field on a full-count pitch. Phegley homered off the Western Metal Supply Co. brick warehouse in the left field corner on a 1-1 pitch. Lucchesi hit Olson with a pitch opening the inning and then walked Piscotty ahead of Barreto's homer.

Robbie Erlin got the last out of the second before allowing consecutive homers to Canha and Olson in the third. It was Canha's ninth and Olson's 15th. Phegley added a sacrifice fly.

Lowrie connected off Phil Hughes in the eighth, his 11th.

Frankie Montas (4-1) benefited from the long balls as he threw 6 2-3 strong innings. He held the Padres to one run and five hits, struck out six and walked three. He allowed Cory Spangenberg's RBI single in the third.

Lucchesi went just 1 2/3 innings, allowing four runs and three hits.

Trailing 10-1, the Padres had infielder Cory Spangenberg pitch the ninth. He allowed two runs on two hits and two walks in his second appearance of the season.

San Diego's Christian Villanueva homered in the ninth, his 16th.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Padres: Placed RHP Bryan Mitchell on the 10-day disabled list with an impingement in his right elbow to make room for Lucchesi on the 25-man roster. Mitchell (0-3, 7.08 ERA) hasn't pitched since June 5. Mitchell has been disappointing since being acquired from the New York Yankees along with third baseman Chase Headley. The Padres wanted Mitchell so badly they were willing to take on Headley's $13 million salary, but the deal has backfired. Headley was released on May 19 and Mitchell was demoted from the rotation to the bullpen.

UP NEXT:
Athletics: RHP Chris Bassitt (0-2, 2.45) is scheduled to start Thursday night's opener of a four-game series at the Chicago White Sox, who counter with RHP Lucas Giolito(4-7, 7.19).

Padres: RHP Tyson Ross (5-4, 3.51) is set to start the opener of a four-game series Thursday night at San Francisco, opposite LHP Madison Bumgarner (0-2, 4.67).

Lowrie, Piscotty power A's comeback win vs Padres

Lowrie, Piscotty power A's comeback win vs Padres

SAN DIEGO  — Stephen Piscotty homered with two outs in the ninth inning to tie the game and Jed Lowie hit a two-run shot with two outs in the 10th to lift the Oakland Athletics over the San Diego Padres 4-2 on Tuesday night.

Piscotty’s shot into the second deck came off closer Brad Hand. Hand was trying for his 22nd save and retired the first two batters before Piscotty homered on a 2-2 pitch, his fifth.

Adam Cimber (3-3) allowed Marcus Semien’s one-out single in the 10th and retired Chad Pinder on a fly to right before Lowrie connected for his 10th homer.

Rookie Lou Trivino (4-1) pitched two innings for the win. Blake Treinen pitched the 10th for his 16th save.

Padres rookie left-hander hander Eric Lauer had been in line for the victory after pitching six strong innings. He settled down after allowing an unearned run in the second and held the A’s to one run and three hits while matching his strikeout high with seven. He walked two.

The Padres had given Lauer just enough support in the first two innings against Paul Blackburn. Jose Pirela brought in a run in the first on a grounder and Raffy Lopez doubled with one out in the second to bring in rookie Franmil Reyes, who was aboard on a leadoff double.

Blackburn allowed two runs and four hits in five innings, struck out four and walked two.

The A’s scored in the second with some help from replay. Khris Davis drew a leadoff walk and was originally called out on a force play on Matt Olson’s ground ball. The A’s challenged and the call was overturned, with shortstop Freddy Galvis given an error because his foot wasn’t on second base when he took the throw. Davis advanced on Mark Canha’s single and scored when Piscotty grounded into a double play.

ROAD WARRIORS

The Padres are in a stretch in which they will play just five of 28 games at home. After going 5-5 on a trip through Miami, St. Louis and Atlanta, the Padres are home for just two games before heading out for a seven-game trip to San Francisco and Texas. Then they’re home for three games against Pittsburgh before a six-game trip to Oakland and Arizona.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Padres: Have cut short OF Franchy Cordero’s rehab assignment after he felt something in his right elbow. Manager Andy Green said it’s “highly unlikely” Cordero is back soon.

UP NEXT

Athletics: RHP Frankie Montas (3-1, 2.67 ERA) is scheduled to start the finale of the two-game series.

Padres: Rookie LHP Joey Lucchesi (3-2, 3.23) is scheduled to return from more than a month on the DL with a strained right hip.