It didn’t take long for A’s third baseman Matt Chapman to be extra Matt Chapman-y.
Chapman made a diving play in the second inning of Oakland's 7-3 Cactus League loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Friday, robbing catcher Kurt Suzuki of a base hit.
Not that we were expecting anything less, but it was good to see Chapman back playing third for the first time in a game since he underwent season-ending hip surgery in 2020.
“It felt great,” Chapman said after the game. “I was able to kind of go out there and play -- not really thinking about anything, just going out there and play. That was nice. My hip didn’t bother me going to make that play. I didn’t really think about anything just make the play, make the throw so it’s nice to kind of test it, see where it’s at.”
Before the game, A’s manager Bob Melvin talked about what makes Chapman so special at the hot corner.
“Well, his range and his arm," Melvin said. "He plays a little bit deeper than anyone else does because of his arm which allows him to get the balls because he has a little more time to get to them. He’s really quick side-to-side, he’s a tenacious defender, takes a lot of pride in it. Just when you think you can drop a bunt down because he plays deep, he’s on top of it -- throws you out, even really good bunters. But I think he really takes pride in it.”
Melvin said while a lot of third basemen might pride themselves on what they can do at the plate, Chapman’s defensive game “is his calling card.”
Melvin said he wants to have Chapman play more or less every other day at third base with some games at designated hitter thrown in there, even though Chapman says he’s capable of an everyday return on defense. But he admitted it’s not up to him.
Chapman did say he'll play at third base more toward the end of spring training.
The two-time Platinum Glove Award-winning third baseman also said he’s learning quickly to work alongside recently acquired shortstop Elvis Andrus after spending the last four seasons next to Marcus Semien.
“It was easy and we’re communicating … just learning some of the tendencies he has and he’s learning me,” Chapman said. “So I think, based on my experiences with Elvis so far, it’s going to be an easy transition.”