As recently as last month, there was a very real chance that A's catcher Josh Phegley might not make the team.
Oakland had signed veterans Nick Hundley and Chris Herrmann during the offseason and planned on platooning two of the three behind the plate. As it turned out, Herrmann would have to undergo knee surgery, leaving the two roster spots for Hundley and Phegley.
Through the first 17 games of the season, the two right-handers have mostly split time behind the plate, but that could change if Phegley continues at his current rate. In 11 games, the 31-year-old has a .313/.333/.656 slash line with three home runs and seven RBI.
The three homers are tied for second most among major league catchers, while the seven RBI are tied for third.
"He's taking advantage of (the opportunity)," A's manager Bob Melvin told reporters on Thursday. "This is the first real opportunity that he's had. I'm proud of the fact he's really running with it. ... He's on a roll offensively."
That might be an understatement. Phegley extended his hitting streak to a career-high seven games in Thursday's 8-5 win against the Orioles. During that stretch, he's batting .400 (10-for-25) with three homers, two doubles, seven RBI, and eight runs scored.
"I know I can hit," Phegley told NBC Sports California before the season. "I've always been a good hitter. I just need an opportunity for more at-bats and if they're going to give it to me, I need to be ready."
Phegley is in his seventh major league season, the last five coming in Oakland. He struggled at the plate last year as Jonathan Lucroy's backup, slashing just .204/.255/.344 in 39 games.
Phegley's best season came in 2015, when he hit .249/.300/.449 with a career-high nine home runs and 34 RBI in 73 games. That was really the last time he had anything resembling consistent playing time.
He has earned that opportunity this year.
Phegley has always been solid defensively. He has a career fielding percentage of .992 and has thrown out 33 percent of attempted base-stealers. Now he has added an offensive dimension to his game, which has spurred the bottom of the A's lineup.
Hundley and Herrmann have both proven to be capable big-league catchers, but at this point, Phegley has earned regular playing time. If he keeps performing anywhere near this level, he should remain the everyday catcher all season long.