A’s starter Frankie Montas was an absolute workhorse during the MLB hiatus. He lifted a considerable amount of weight, threw bullpens and simulated games. He also had to face Paige Halstead for a batting practice session.
Halstead, whose brother Ryan plays in the Giants organization, is used to male competition. She practices with Ryan quite a bit, but her résumé isn’t something to be ignored.
A 2019 graduate of UCLA, and workhorse herself, Halstead also was a member of Team USA for three summers where she medaled multiple times. She also will be competing in a newly formed professional softball league, Athletes Unlimited, that begins later in August.
Halstead had never seen Montas throw before. She had seen Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer previously, who also was throwing batting practice to her in the Arizona desert, but Montas was different.
“Honestly, I didn’t know much about him,” Halstead said on an episode of Momentum’s ‘Cork’d Up’ podcast. “I didn’t even know how hard he could throw.”
“I was waiting to hit off of him, one of the hitters there was like, ‘Dude, you know he throws like 100, right?’ I was like ‘What?’ ” Paige laughed. “I had no idea, I think, knowing that, going up there, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m just going to swing as hard as I can.’ ”
Sometimes, that’s all you can do.
During the hiatus, Montas also was throwing those triple digits to a high school kid. He used every outlet he could find to stay active. Whatever he was doing worked, as he got the Opening Day nod and continues to dominate on the mound.
In three games this season, Montas boasts a 2.25 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 23 innings. The velocity on his fastball hasn’t quite hit that 100 mark yet, but that will come with time.
“The first pitch [Montas] threw, I blinked, and it was gone,” Halstead said. “He throws gas, but I just try to close my eyes and swing as hard as I can.”
“He was super nice about it,” Halstead said. “He likes to talk trash too, so that was fun.”