Josh Donaldson is very familiar with the Athletics. Having spent four seasons with Oakland, and truly discovering himself, he had tons of memories with the team and still has a close relationship with manager Bob Melvin.
“I guess the only regret is figuring out me playing third base a little bit sooner,” Donaldson told A’s Cast’s Chris Townsend on Friday in the middle of the A's-Twins three-game series.
Donaldson originally was a catcher, but made his presence felt at the hot corner.
That was a small detail, however. Between the heart-skipping 2014 AL Wild-Card Game between the A’s and the Kansas City Royals, and the close-knit relationships he developed during his tenure, the three-time AL All-Star cherishes his time with the Green and Gold.
“But at the end of the day, I thought my time there with a group of guys that we all kind of came up at the same time ended adding the likes of Jonny Gomes, Brandon Inge and a lot of guys -- you know there were some veteran guys that came in,” Donaldson said. “You know, I think what was so great about our team was every year, it was all ‘Hey, the A’s are going to finish last,’ and you know, we won the division in ‘12 and ‘13 and in ‘14, wild-card game -- and still to this day I get s--t from Kansas City Royals fans about that game.”
The Royals made an epic comeback during that game, which is why fans still bring it up to Donaldson. That ultimately was his last season with the A’s before being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays.
“That was a tough way to go out as far as our time there, but at the end of the day, like I said -- I will always be grateful for Billy [Beane] for giving me the opportunity and the team we had. We played really well together,” Donaldson said.
The most important relationship Donaldson might have had was with Melvin.
“Bob, I have the utmost respect for him,” Donaldson said.
It appeared Melvin had just as much respect for the 35-year-old, to the point where Donaldson actually told the skipper where he wanted to hit, and he obliged.
“A lot of people don’t know this. I remember there was one time specifically," Donaldson said. "It was 2013, I had started off well for the season and hitting in the seven, eight-hole at the time for the A’s -- Swingin’ A’s, and I went to BoMel and I was like ‘Hey, why am I hitting so low in your lineup?’ And he goes, ‘JD, we like you down there, we feel we can score every inning.’ ”
As a rookie, Donaldson was quite taken aback by the exchange.
“Being a rookie, I took that -- he didn’t bite my head off so I was all, ‘All right cool, I can talk to him a little bit,” Donaldson explained. “And about two more weeks went on, I kept hitting and at the time, five or six now in the lineup.”
Donaldson asked again why he was hitting so low in the lineup. Melvin gave him the same answer.
“I want to hit three,” Donaldson told Melvin.
Melvin said “All right,” and the next day, Donaldson was hitting in the third spot.
From that point on, Melvin put him in the middle of the lineup.
“To me as a player to be able to talk to the manager, kind of voice and show him I was confident in myself and I was on to something," Donaldson said. "I felt like him being able to listen to me, and not only just listen to me, but ‘Hey, if you want to put your money where your mouth is, let’s go.’ ”
From that day on, Donaldson and Melvin were as close as could be.