At times last season, Matt Chapman felt like he spent all day before games just trying to get his hip loose enough to play that day. The pain worsened as the season wore on until the A's star third baseman had to undergo season-ending hip surgery in September.
That's in the past now, though. Chapman told reporters Monday that his hip "feels amazing" and he's good to go in spring training.
"I'm able to do everything," Chapman said. "I'm fully cleared. I got 100 percent clearance to return to sport on January 6, and once that hit I started really ramping up the running and the lifting, all the baseball activities. So I've pretty much been building up for over a month now. ... I'm fully cleared, so I had no restrictions coming into spring training.
"The only thing I have is a little extra conditioning and running to kind of get my legs back."
While the injury didn't hurt Chapman's power last season, he definitely felt the lingering effects in the batter's box. Though he hit 10 home runs in just 37 games and had a career-high .535 slugging percentage, Chapman's batting average dropped to just .232 and had 54 strikeouts while walking just eight times. This came after he finished sixth in AL MVP voting in 2019 and seventh the year before.
What's really missing from Chapman's trophy case after his injury-shortened season is a third straight AL Gold Glove Award. Some saw it as a snub despite Chapman missing half the season. That's not the case in his eyes, however, he does believe first baseman Matt Olson should have taken home the trophy for a third straight year.
Now that he's healthy again, Chapman has his eyes on he and Olson both earning the award yet again.
"I know both of us are motivated for our own reasons, and Olson wants to win that award back just as bad as I do," Chapman said. "I won two in a row and I felt like that was my award to lose and I unfortunately lost it. But I want to come back and show people that not only am I healthy, but I'm at the top of my game and this is behind me.
"I want to be the player that I know I'm capable of being and do it consistently again."
Chapman, 27, is entering the prime of his career. He knows the best is yet to come, he just has to stay on the field.
Once the regular season begins, Chapman is ready to prove he's the best third baseman in baseball, a position that's stacked with star power. For his power, rocket arm and vacuum of a glove at the hot corner, he certainly can make his case with a strong full season this year.