Austin Allen has had a chaotic six months.
The A's catcher has dealt with not only the unprecedented halt of life as we know it, but also enduring his first professional trade.
“To be completely honest, it was weird at first,” Allen told NBC Sports California about coming to Oakland from the San Diego Padres in December. “I can’t even put into words the gratitude I have that the A’s traded for me.”
Allen spent five years in the Padres organization and made his MLB debut last season, but he only got a small taste of the majors in 65 at-bats.
Now, Oakland is hoping to capitalize on his left-handed bat which plays especially well against right-handed pitching. But it’s also a reputation Allen is trying to evade.
“That’s been my title: Bat first, then catcher. Which I can’t stand, by the way,” Allen said with a half-smile.
One of the few positional battles that remains unsettled for the A's is behind the plate. Sean Murphy is the highly touted backstop who is likely to play a lot of games. But Allen and fellow catcher Jonah Heim also come with tremendous optimism and promise attached.
“Us three, we’re battling for playing time,” Allen said about the competition during spring training. “None of us are proven, but every single day we’re trying to help each other get better in every aspect: Receiving, blocking, throwing and hitting.”
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Could the A’s start this season with a tandem of two non-veteran catchers? There was some question, especially considering high expectations heading into 2020. With expanded rosters likely in a shortened (yet condensed) season, they could carry all three.
All would be motivated to showcase.
“100 percent, and we all believe that," Allen said. "The only way to get experience is by playing.”