OAKLAND — In this season of adjustments for Ryon Healy, the proof of how he’s handling everything is found in the numbers he’s piling up.
No one filled up the box score Saturday quite like Healy, who went 4-for-4 and enjoyed his first career two-homer game as Oakland pounded the Washington Nationals 10-4 before a crowd of 23,921 at the Coliseum.
So much of the talk has centered on Yonder Alonso’s breakout year at the plate, Khris Davis’ continued ascension among the game’s power-hitting elite, and the injuries and defensive problems that have contributed to the A’s last-place standing.
When it comes to Healy, the conversation usually focuses on what position he’s playing, or the fact that he really doesn’t have a spot on the diamond to call home. He’s seen most of his time as Oakland’s primary designated hitter, and that’s been an adjustment for a young player who’s spent most of his professional career playing either of the corner infield spots.
“He’s handled it really well,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s a very emotional guy, too, which plays into the whole dynamic. He wants to play, he brings a lot of energy to whatever he’s doing. For guys like that, it’s probably a little more difficult than for guys that are more reserved. But I’ll take him any day. He’s passionate about what he does and he swings the bat really well.”
Healy hit just .228 over his first 27 games, but since has been hitting at a .327 clip (35-for-107) over his last 27. With the A’s (24-31) just having passed the one-third mark of the season, Healy is hitting .279 overall with 11 homers and 27 RBI, putting the 25-year-old on pace for a 30-plus homer season in his first full major league campaign.
He shared top billing Saturday with Jed Lowrie, who went 3-for-5 with four RBI. But Healy tied a franchise record with four extra-base hits — two homers and two doubles — and the A’s as a team cracked double digits in runs for the first time all season.
After connecting for his first homer, a two-run shot to right-center off Nationals starter and East Bay product Joe Ross, Healy said he had some fun on the bench with teammate Trevor Plouffe.
“I said to Plouffe, ‘I’ve never had a two-homer game in pro ball,’” Healy said. “He goes, 'Well, today's a pretty good day to do so.’”
Healy hit a solo shot that hit above the camera well in center in the seventh, making it back-to-back shots with Yonder Alonso, who hit his 16th homer right before him.
With Alonso enjoying his own breakout season and commanding the majority of starts at first base, and the A’s currently committed to Plouffe at third, Healy has been relegated to DH, though he spelled Plouffe at third Saturday. Plouffe is signed only through this season as is Alonso, who’s already a rumored trade candidate. Healy could slide into one of their spots should the A’s part with either, though Oakland has other highly regarded corner infielders at Triple-A, notably third baseman Matt Chapman and first baseman Matt Olson.
When asked if he’d prefer to settle at one spot, Healy said all the right things.
“I think time will tell,” he replied. “I'm happy where I'm at right now, being in the big leagues. I'm just going to continue working as hard as I can to potentially earn a role like that one day.”
It’s not often that an Alonso home run rates as a secondary note. He swung away on a 3-0 count in the seventh and drove an opposite-field shot to left-center off Nats reliever Jacob Turner. He and Davis are tied for second in the American League with 16 homers.
Alonso ranked second behind Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera at first base in the first round of All-Star fan voting. Does Melvin think Alonso belongs in the Midsummer Classic?
“I do,” the manager confirmed. “It’s usually a tough position to crack for the All-Star Game, as there’s many good hitters at that position. But he’s a plus defender on top of it and he continues to hit homers, and big homers. I’m probably a little biased, but yeah, I would say that’s the guy.”