Watching the Athletics for the last 10 days, it has been clear something has been missing.
Riding a six-game losing streak into their 3-2 win over the New York Yankees on Saturday, the A's got back little bit of their mojo.
Chris Bassitt, fresh off facial surgery, was back with the team Saturday, and his presence made a big difference for his teammates.
"Seeing Bass today, he came over and gave me a hug over at my locker," A's infielder Tony Kemp said when asked by SFBay's Simone McCarthy about Bassitt being back with the team. "And just being able to hear his voice in the clubhouse and in the dugout, you can definitely tell the boys missed him. There's no coincidence that he comes back and we get the win. He's one of those leaders in the clubhouse that a lot of guys rally behind."
Bassitt was struck on the right side of his face by a line drive off the bat of Chicago White Sox outfielder Brian Goodwin on Aug. 17. He remained in Chicago and underwent surgery this past Tuesday, returning to the Bay Area on Friday.
The A's ace wasted no time getting back to the ballpark, and he didn't just sit around. Bassitt actually took part in some of the pregame activities.
"He begged for the lineup card today, too," A's manager Bob Melvin said, in response to a question from MLB.com's Martin Gallegos. "I wasn't originally going to give him the lineup card, but he wanted it today. You can't put kind of a price or certainly not a number on what certain guys mean. He came to that game we had in Chicago too, I believe that, lost a few in a row and won that one that he showed up too.
"Certain guys resonate in our room and Chris is one of those. Everybody was really, really excited to see him today. And it kind of puts perspective in that baseball is not the most important thing. And then when you see a guy get through something like that, you know, we're in a losing streak, you're kind of like, 'There are worse things than this.' So gave us some life today."
Frankie Montas, who got the start Saturday, goes way back with Bassitt. They were teammates in 2014 while in the White Sox minor league system and reunited in 2017 when Montas debuted with the A's after a trade from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Montas admitted to The Athletic's Steve Berman that he and Bassitt used to clash, but now the 28-year-old turns to the veteran for advice.
"Like you said, me and Bass did not get along too well," Montas said. "But too be honest, I look up to him. He's a hard worker. He's a hard worker. He's a dude that I'm always talking to about anything. I asked him today, 'Are you staying for the game?' He was like 'Yes, I'm staying.' Even after the second inning, I was like 'Can you watch me? See what I'm doing, see my sequence.' Because he's really smart. Now, he has a sense, not because he's lucky, but because he knows what he's doing out there."
Over the last few weeks, the A's have slipped out of a MLB playoff position, but they are hoping Bassitt's presence gives them a boost that allows them to make a run at either the AL West or the second AL Wild Card spot.
It's unclear if or when Bassitt will pitch again this season, though he wants to, badly. For now, just getting his voice back in the clubhouse and dugout was just what the A's needed.