Athletics

How Stephen Piscotty is carrying mother's torch by trying to defeat ALS

How Stephen Piscotty is carrying mother's torch by trying to defeat ALS

MESA, Ariz. – Gretchen Piscotty was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in May 2017, with the debilitating disease progressing far faster than doctors expected. ALS has no known cause and no known cure, a neurodegenerative disease that eventually causes the loss of mobility, muscle control and the ability to breathe.

The Piscotty family did not go through this difficult time in private. Gretchen and the Piscotty family opened their doors to share this tragic tale, amplifying it with Stephen Piscotty’s status as a major-league baseball player.

The Pleasanton native was playing for the St. Louis Cardinals when his mother was diagnosed. He requested and was granted a trade to his hometown A’s to be closer to his mom during this time of need, when the Piscotty family and their close friends rallied to help a mother of three and a woman who supported so many for so long.

“My mom, when she was sick, was doing a lot of interviews where people were coming into the home, which was a bit uncomfortable considering the situation,” Stephen Piscotty said Tuesday. “She did that not because she enjoyed it but to help spread the word in hopes that others wouldn’t have to suffer.”

The Piscotty family has continued that effort since her passing on May 7, 2018, by creating the ALS CURE Project, a charitable organization created to help fight and eventually beat this terrible disease.

“We’re just trying to carry the torch with this charity,” Piscotty said, “and our efforts to raise funds and awareness.”

Stephen’s father Mike spearheads the effort and runs the organization, which is expanding its fundraising efforts.

“He had a bit of an ‘ah-ha’ moment where he decided what he wanted to do immersed himself in community and terminology,” Piscotty said. “It’s incredible to see how much he has soaked in. My job is to help and promote and use my platform as best I can. We’re doing a good job as a team, and he’s working on the nuts and the bolts and I’m here to champion it whenever possible.”

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That time is now, with the first in a series of ALS CURE events coming up Friday at the Brandon Crawford Charity Golf Tournament in Phoenix. The Giants shortstop also grew up in Pleasanton as a star baseball player and, although their paths didn’t cross much back then, Crawford and Piscotty have become friends in recent years. Their fathers know each other, creating a link that prompted the Crawfords to donate proceeds of the event to the ALS CURE Project.

“I’ve gotten to know him quite a bit over the past few years playing against him,” Piscotty said. They’ve been so gracious putting on this tournament for us, really. It has been great.”

The Piscottys will host their inaugural ALS CURE Project Golf Tournament on May 18 at Orinda Country Club, and the Athletics will host an annual ALS Awareness Day at Oakland Coliseum on May 24 when they play the Los Angeles Angels. Funds raised during that game will benefit the Piscottys’ organization.

“It’s great to see the involvement from so many in and around baseball,” Stephen Piscotty said. “Our story, like so many others, has touched a lot of people without the disease in their family. We’re trying to bring more awareness to a very rare disease.

“We feel like we need to push in that regard because it really is devastating. It feels very underfunded in regard to a research community that could create a drastic impact with the proper resources.”

For more information: alscure.net.
To donate:https://www.gofundme.com/f/piscottyals2019
To sign up for the ALS Cure Project golf tournament:https://alscure.ejoinme.org/MyEvents/ALSCUREProject1stAnnualGolfTournament/SponsorshipsandRegistrations/tabid/1129471/Default.aspx

Making a case for: Why A's Matt Chapman could be A.L. MVP in 2020

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AP

Making a case for: Why A's Matt Chapman could be A.L. MVP in 2020

Matt Chapman ranks sky-high among the American League’s best third baseman. The A’s All-Star won two straight platinum gloves and was named 2018’s best defensive player regardless of position.

Oh, and the 27-year old can hit a little bit, too.

Chapman hit .249/.346/.506 in 2019, with 36 home runs and 90 RBIs, though his production took a significant dip in the second half. That’s still a quality offensive season but certainly not in the AL’s elite tier, but his combination of offense and stellar glovework left him sixth in MVP voting.

It was three places back of teammate Marcus Semien, a shortstop who had a career year in every phase of the game.

Chapman left that excellent campaign wanting more, especially after hitting just .178 in September and October. He tinkered some with his swing before spring training, with some minor changes he believes will produce better and more consistent results.

“I think it was more mechanical than anything,” Chapman told MLB.com this spring. “I was doing a few things that weren’t giving me the best chance for success,” Chapman said. “I tried to just clean up those few things and I think I’m going to have a better baseline for this season.”

Those who have seen it extensively have great confidence Chapman’s bat will produce even greater dividends.

“The sky is the limit for him,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said back in February. “He’s one of the top players in the league and really probably hasn’t had the offensive season that he would like to have at this point. He’s just going to keep getting better. He’s not at his ceiling right now.

“I’ve said often he’ll be in the MVP conversation for years to come.”

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Will that be this year, in an odd 60-game season compacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic?

There’s no reason why not. Winning the AL MVP will be difficult as long as Mike Trout’s around. There are several worthy candidates in the junior circuit beyond the 28-year old three-time MVP, including a few players on his own team.

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Chapman could well get hot early, scorch through a short season and carry the A’s to the playoffs. That’s undoubtedly within the realm of possibility for someone who felt more comfortable with his swing before baseball hit pause over the current public health crisis.

His defense will never rest, shining above the rest in terms of range, arm strength, dynamic playmaking ability and overall consistency.

Spending a solid chunk of his time in the Nos. 2 or 3 spot, typically in front of Matt Olson, should help him get pitches to hit and, if he makes the most of opportunities during this 200-meter sprint of a season, he could be bringing home more than just a defensive award in 2020.

A's add 17-year-old Robert Puason, five others to complete 60-man pool

A's add 17-year-old Robert Puason, five others to complete 60-man pool

The A’s announced the addition of six players to the 60-man player pool on Wednesday ahead of MLB Summer Camp.

Infielder Eric Campbell has been added to the group who will report to Oakland at the Coliseum.

Campbell hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2016 with the New York Mets, when he only hit .173 with nine RBI.

Right-handed pitchers Wandisson Charles and Miguel Romero, outfielders Luis Barrera and Brayan Buelvas and infielder Robert Puason will report to the A’s alternate site. 

Puason, 17, showed a lot of promise practicing in the A’s facility and has speed and fluidity in his defensive capabilities. 

The pool is now set at 60 players.

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Baseball started feeling back to normal when the A’s traded infielder Jorge Mateo on Tuesday to the San Diego Padres for a player to be named later.

The A’s have started to arrive for workouts, which begin on July 4 at the Coliseum and the alternate site.