Franklin Barreto ahead in A's second base race, competition remains

Franklin Barreto ahead in A's second base race, competition remains

The main position battle for the A’s as summer camp continues remains at second base, even with a recent trade that sent Jorge Mateo to the San Diego Padres for a player to be named later.

“I feel good right now about the situation,” Franklin Barreto, via translator, said in a Zoom interview with reporters on Monday. “Regardless, I’m going to keep working hard every day. Right from the beginning, I’m going to do the best I can to prove to the team I can play every day at second base and be able to contribute and help the team get some wins.”

It appears that could be the case, he’s been hitting well for the A’s during camp and it’s being noticed. Still, he has a tendency to be one of those guys who performs well in the spring or exhibition games and when it’s time to produce during the regular season, he comes up short.

Barreto knows that but doesn’t appear to deter from his mission.

With Barreto, he has Tony Kemp behind him who is a lefty bat the team went out to find during the offseason. He could offer as a platoon option at second base. He also knows no matter who gets the job, him, or others, they’ll be up to the challenge.

“Whoever gets to run out there on a particular day will get the job done, whether it’s me, Barreto, [Vimael] Machin or [Chad] Pinder,” Kemp said in Monday’s media availability. “These guys have been good. They are tremendous ballplayers and they’re here for a reason.”

“I just try to come here every day and put my best foot forward and continue to try and get better each day. Whoever gets run out there will take care of the job and whoever comes in behind him will swing the bat well and play good defense. It has been a good mixture of guys out there.” 

Barreto said the same thing with compliments toward Machin, who was snagged by the A’s in the Rule 5 Draft this offseason and is viewed as a prized pickup. He also said Machin is a great teammate and could make some noise coming off the bench if need be.

A’s manager Bob Melvin has been asked continuously about the situation at second base, and even despite the Mateo departure, he knows there will be multiple ways to utilize that group.

“We’ll try and match up on that one, left and right,” Melvin said Monday.” On the left side, we have Machin and Kemp. On the right side, probably Barreto and Pinder.  We’ll figure out where we’re going with that, but we typically have a couple of spots where we platoon and that probably is one of them.”

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Pinder is able to be placed anywhere and be fantastic at it. His diversity is something that proves beneficial. Last season alone he played in every position but pitcher and catcher. He’s also coming off of a strong Cactus League spring. 

It appears that continues to be a good problem to have.

Why A's will greatly miss Ramón Laureano while he serves suspension

Why A's will greatly miss Ramón Laureano while he serves suspension

A's manager Bob Melvin wasn't sure if he'd have Ramón Laureano in center field for Wednesday's game against the Los Angeles Angels. Laureano is appealing a six-game suspension for his role in Sunday's A's-Houston Astros brawl, and Oakland expected to learn about his appeal before first pitch at Angel Stadium.

But Laureano started, and the A's were beyond thrilled to have him in the lineup for Wednesday's 8-2 win. He drove in a pair of runs and saved at least one, casually robbing a home run from Angels outfielder Brian Goodwin in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Laureano was just as happy, but he toned it down -- as he usually does -- in a video conference with reporters after the game.

“Yeah, I mean I didn’t pay attention too much, I was ready to play since I woke up,” Laureano said of potentially not playing Wednesday.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Laureano has a way of making these incredible plays and acting as if each were as simple as going grocery shopping. Is it as effortless as he makes it look?

“It’s never an easy play, I just get good timing on it and the outfield here is pretty short in center field," Laureano said. "I always feel good playing here.”

Laureano hadn't watched the game film yet, so he wasn't aware how impressively easy his catch looked.

Pitcher Chris Bassitt was. He pumped his fist in gratitude toward Laureano after each of the outfielder's highlight-reel plays.

“He’s a Gold Glove center fielder,” Bassitt said. “No doubt, but I mean, he won us the game defensively. I mean, I know we won it by a couple more runs, but he definitely saved us.”

Bassitt said balls can really fly in Angel Stadium, and playing during the day forces outfielders to work even harder. But that was no worry for Laureano. He thrives there.

A’s manager Bob Melvin gets to see it all unfold from the dugout. 

“I enjoy watching him play, he’s energetic, he’s exciting, he’s a thrill a minute -- and we’ve seen those plays in the outfield,” Melvin said after the win. “This wall can be fairly easy, not that it’s an easy play, but he times it very well. He knows once he hits the warning track how many steps to the wall and he’s really confident doing it.”

Angels' manager Joe Maddon was pretty upset Laureano didn't start serving his suspension Wednesday.

A total game-changer. 

[RELATEDStewart believes 'justice was done' in Laureano, Cintrón bans]

Whenever Laureano starts serving his suspension, the A's will miss him. Oakland can have a glimmer hope of knowing that Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly's eight-game suspension was reduced to five when he appealed. Kelly threw at Astros players and mocked them as he walked off the mound.

“Since you’re telling me that, I will take that bait,” Melvin said after the game. ”Yeah, I would like it to be reduced, so we’ll see where it goes. I’m not in charge of that.”

Watch Ramón Laureano casually rob home run from Angels' Brian Goodwin

Watch Ramón Laureano casually rob home run from Angels' Brian Goodwin

A’s pitchers Yusmeiro Petit and Chris Bassitt are going to buy Ramón Laureano a nice steak dinner after the performance(s) he put on Wednesday.

The A’s centerfielder made a few strong plays against the Angels, but one in particular was peak Laureano. The fact that he robbed a home run of Los Angeles outfielder Brian Goodwin was great, but watch how casual he made the catch look:

I’m literally laughing out loud. How does he make it look so easy? All in a day’s work for Laureano.

This saved the Angels from tying it up in the bottom of the seventh, but that’s typical of the A's outfielder.

[RELATEDCintrón apologizes, denies insulting Laureano's mother]

Laureano was given a six-game suspension after his role in the A’s-Astros bench-clearing brawl on Sunday, but has elected to appeal it. That means, when he does serve the ban, the A’s will be without him for the time being, but they have a phenomenal back-up plan in Chad Pinder.

Pinder’s middle name could be “diverse,” if it wasn’t Hudson. The guy can do it all, and he can do it well. Just as he did on Tuesday night against the Angels in the 6-0 loss. 

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]