The Athletics begin a four-game series Monday against the Toronto Blue Jays, and a familiar face will be make his return to the Coliseum.
Marcus Semien now sports blue and plays second base for the Blue Jays. It’s a sight A’s fans will need to get used to after he spent six seasons in green and gold. The Bay Area native will be welcomed back with open arms, however.
“I am looking forward to seeing Marcus,” A’s general manager David Forst told NBC Sports California last week. “It was the unfortunate part of the offseason that we weren’t able to keep him here. I got very close to him, particularly last year. He was the player rep, we dealt with so many issues between MLB and the union, with the shutdown and all the COVID protocols so I got really close to Marcus last year and really, really enjoyed his time here.
"His story arch, from the time he got here and struggled so much at shortstop that first year, to the player he grew into and really the sort of hometown kind of face of our team for a number of years. It was special, it wasn’t something replicated here, at least in my time.”
Semien signed a one-year contract with the Blue Jays this offseason after reportedly receiving a bizarrely structured contract offer from the A’s. Enough time has gone by, however, where A’s fans aren’t as upset he's no longer here, but it was a loss more than just what he was able to do on the field.
To see someone from the Bay Area play in Oakland for as long as Semien did truly was unique.
The defensive struggles of Semien that Forst referred to had the A’s bringing in former MLB player and manager Ron Washington to help the shortstop on his fundamentals. Semien immediately began to shift and turned into an All-Star caliber player, despite it not showing on his Baseball Reference page.
In 2019, Semien led the league with 747 plate appearances starting in all 162 games at shortstop for the A’s. In his best all-around season, Semien slashed .285/.369/.522 with 43 doubles, 33 homers and 92 RBI. Those numbers were good enough for a third-place finish in AL MVP voting.
During the offseason, Semien told NBC Sports California no matter what, Oakland always will be his home. The high-anticipated reunion didn't happen, but that won’t take away the impact he left on the team and the community.
Semien teamed up with Coaching Corps with other big leaguers Joe and Tyson Ross in hopes of introducing more Black coaches into baseball at an early age in hopes of showing more representation and eventually bring more Black players to the higher levels of the game.
Forst hasn't watched too many Toronto games this season, but in the few he has, Semien's production hasn't shocked him.
“I’ve only seen a handful of Blue Jays games, but it’s not a surprise and frankly, before he was here, he played everywhere. With the White Sox, he played some left field, he played some third, and he knows the game so well,” Forst said. “His instincts are so good, I’m not at all surprised that it was an easy transition for him.”
The Jays have a strong squad this season, and while the A’s will be ready to play, that might be secondary in certain situations.
"I know our guys will be happy to see Marcus in person,” Forst said.