The Athletics’ current slump has provided plenty of learning experience for a team that’s, well, inexperienced.
That’s the message Chad Pinder has for fans as Oakland entered Saturday’s matchup against the Minnesota Twins having lost seven in a row -- a losing streak that has tested the willpower of a young A’s lineup looking to make their mark in the big leagues.
During an interview with NBC Sports California’s Brodie Brazil that aired during “A’s Pregame Live,” Pinder shared that there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the team’s on-field struggles.
“I think that people won’t see from the outside the growth that’s happening in a young team,” Pinder told Brazil.
Pinder pointed out that Elvis Andrus, Stephen Piscotty and Jed Lowrie are among Oakland’s only players who have consistent, substantial playing time under their belts courtesy of years-long MLB careers.
Between the three veterans, Andrus, Piscotty and Lowrie have compiled 13,866 total at-bats across their combined careers. Every hitter in the A’s lineup on Saturday, aside from Pinder and Tony Kemp, have less than 700 career at-bats. Some, like Cristian Pache and Kevin Smith, have less than 200.
Even those like Pinder who have more experience at the plate might not have found themselves in a starting role before, he said.
“So guys are growing in that way, and myself included,” Pinder continued. “I’ve never played every single day, so I’m learning the nuances of making adjustments day to day when I’m not feeling great, when I’m not feeling good mentally, when I’m not feeling good physically. And the same goes for the other guys that are learning that about themselves.”
The A’s traded some of their most valuable veterans this offseason, shipping off players like Matt Olson and Matt Chapman, who had plenty of experience overcoming slumps at the plate, and leaving an eager group of young players to figure things out at Oakland Coliseum.
After a successful road trip to start the season, the A’s have looked lost in the batter’s box as of late and have the fourth-most errors among MLB teams this year with 21. What seems as simple as moving on to the next at-bat or the next ground ball can become complicated for young players trying to prove they’re capable.
But the current losing streak has given Oakland players the perfect opportunity to work on those things in real time, Pinder said.
“I think that you’re starting to see that in the clubhouse, what guys need to do as far as their work and physically in the weight room to get ready for the game, and learn how to wash a game where you’re 0-for-4 with three strikeouts,” Pinder said. “I think those are the things that people are learning as they go, and I know that in the big leagues, it’s hard to have patience because it’s win. You’ve got to win, you want to win.”
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Pinder knows that the A’s clubhouse is filled with young talent, and with time, the hits will begin to fall with wins following closely behind. Losing is part of the game and only brings more experience to pull from, he said.
“It’s not fun losing, but I think there is growth to be had in what we’re going through right now,” Pinder said. “When we look back in a couple of months and if we can take something from this time where we’re struggling, then not all is lost on it.”