During the spring months, many MLB players had access to a batting cage, but not the ability to practice fielding on a diamond.
Matt Chapman, the two-time defending Platinum Glove winner, is relieved to be back at the hot corner.
“It’s nice getting back to taking ground balls every day,” Chapman said. “Definitely kicking some rust off still. It took some time to work on making the throws or throwing on the run.”
A’s manager Bob Melvin has been hitting grounders to Chapman on a daily basis since 2017. Over that time, a bit of a competition has developed.
“He definitely takes it seriously,” Chapman said.
“Fun fact: he’s got a new fungo, because his old fungo… just didn’t seem too happy with it,” Chapman shared. “He sent me a picture of it in the dumpster.”
That fungo bat was discarded because, as Melvin confirmed, it just wasn’t giving the manager the edge he needed to challenge Chapman.
“He wants to hit no bad ground balls, and I don’t want to miss one ground ball,” Chapman explained. “On a perfect day, we tie, but somedays he’ll get a couple past me. There’s other days he might hit a couple bad ones. That kind of competition only makes us better.”
Chapman is a go-getter, in all senses. But in the last few years of Major League experience, he has learned that patience pays off more efficiently.
Especially when it comes down to the technical aspects of fielding.
“The ball comes to you,” Chapman said, as opposed to hunting the baseball. “If you get too over-extended with your hands, you don’t have very much room to work. So if you let the ball come to you and you finish it by moving your wrists, by just coming through it.”