Athletics

A's slugger Khris Davis: 'I don’t want to label myself a DH'

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A's slugger Khris Davis: 'I don’t want to label myself a DH'

If Khris Davis becomes more designated hitter than left fielder, and clearly that’s the A’s plan, Davis stresses that he’ll accept the role.

That doesn’t mean he’ll be satisfied with it.

“I’m gonna do my job the best I can,” Davis told NBC Sports California by phone Monday. “Whatever they ask me to do, whatever they feel is good for the ball club, I’ll do what it takes. (But) I don’t want to label myself as a DH. … I won’t settle for it. It’s not my goal to be a designated hitter.” Davis spent his first two seasons with Oakland serving as the regular left fielder, and in the process became just the second player in franchise history to post back-to-back 40-homer seasons. But when the A’s traded Ryon Healy to the Seattle Mariners on Nov. 15, it signaled a switch for their most dangerous hitter.

The plan is to shift Davis to DH, Healy’s old spot, with the A’s on the hunt for another right-handed hitting corner outfielder who presumably can soak up the majority of innings in left. They could also shift Matt Joyce to left if they added someone who’s more suited for right field.

Does this plan make baseball sense? Absolutely.

It’s no secret that Davis’ subpar throwing arm can make him a liability defensively. He opened up about the mental challenges he’s encountered with his throwing in a candid story for The Players Tribune back in August.

But Davis also puts in lots of extra time working on his throwing, during spring training and before games during the regular season. It’s important to him to be a well-rounded, complete player. He calls it “a trap” to be pigeon-holed as a designated hitter.

“I’m gonna go out there and play for my team,” Davis said. “At the same time I want to play defense too and be the best player I can.”

Some of Davis’ career numbers actually are better when he’s DH’ing, though it’s a small sample size. He’s batting .271 in 92 games as a DH compared to .243 in 482 games in left field. His on-base percentage is better (.326 to .317) as is his slugging percentage (.554 to .502) when he’s a DH.

But there’s a benefit for him playing left.

“I can kind of forget about my at-bats when I can go play defense,” he said. “Playing defense, it’s good for my mind. It offers a release.”

That’s the balancing act for the A’s — weighing the benefits of adding better outfield defense with making sure their top run producer maintains his comfort zone at the plate.

General manager David Forst, addressing reporters after the Healy trade, said he anticipates a smooth transition to DH for Davis.

“We were pretty clear that part of trading Ryon was to allow Khris to be in the DH spot more often, and he’s been great about it,” Forst said. “He and (manager) Bob (Melvin) talked a lot during the season when he did DH. It wasn’t something he had any issues with.

“We’ve had guys in the past that didn’t like DH’ing. They had a hard time finding their rhythm. But Khris, I think, is so locked into his offensive game and his offensive routine, it’s not something he’s ever had problems with.”

As things stand with the outfield mix now, Joyce and Chad Pinder could form a platoon in right. Boog Powell and Dustin Fowler (who’s rehabbing from knee surgery) will battle for center field, with Pinder also an option there. Mark Canha remains in the fold, along with the potential right-handed hitting left fielder the A’s seek. Jake Smolinski also will return after avoiding arbitration Monday and agreeing to a one-year $775,000 deal, mlbtraderumors.com reported.

Oakland typically keeps a maximum of five outfielders.

 

A's place Khris Davis on the DL, call up top prospect

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A's place Khris Davis on the DL, call up top prospect

The A's will be without the services of their leading home run hitter for the next week.

Khris Davis, who has hit 13 home runs this season and driven in a team-high 38 runs, was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Wednesday due to a strained right groin. The move is retroactive to Monday.

Additionally, reliever Wilmer Font was designated for assignment.

To fill the two open roster spots, the A's recalled right-handed pitcher Daniel Gossett and top prospect Franklin Barreto. This will be the second stint with the A's this season for both players.

Davis suffered the groin injury on Sunday in Toronto.

Barreto has struggled in his time at Triple-A Nashville. In 32 games, he's hitting .235 with six home runs, 17 RBI and 42 strikeouts.

A's edged in extras to open homestand

A's edged in extras to open homestand

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- Mike Zunino hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning and Guillermo Heredia doubled home the go-ahead run in the 10th as the Seattle Mariners defeated the Oakland Athletics 3-2 on Tuesday night.

The Mariners have won four straight games and six of their last eight.

Jean Segura singled with one out in the 10th ahead of Heredia's one-out double to right-center off Yusmeiro Petit (1-1).

Nick Vincent (3-1) pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, and Edwin Diaz earned his 16th save.

Seattle trailed 2-0 when Zunino hit his seventh homer, off starter Trevor Cahill.

Oakland built a two-run lead in the middle innings. Marcus Semien scored on Matt Chapman's double-play grounder in the fourth and added an RBI single in the fifth.

The Mariners have won 13 of their last 16 games against the A's and are 42-22 versus Oakland since 2015.

YER OUTTA HERE

Mariners manager Scott Servais was ejected by plate umpire Brian Knight after Ben Gamel took a called third strike to end the top of the ninth.

FOR STARTERS

Neither starting pitcher was involved in the decision but both pitched well. Mariners right-hander Mike Leake gave up two runs (one earned) in 6 2/3 innings of six-hit ball. He struck out three and walked none. Cahill allowed two runs in seven innings of four-hit ball during his second start since coming off the disabled list. He had been sidelined with a right elbow impingement.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: OF-2B Dee Gordon was placed on the disabled list with a broken right big toe. . OF-DH Nelson Cruz was out of the lineup for a second straight game with a bruised elbow sustained when he was hit by a pitch Saturday against Detroit. . OF Mitch Haniger was pulled in the fifth, an inning after he was hit by a pitch from Cahill on his left arm. X-rays were negative.

Athletics: DH-OF Khris Davis had an MRI to determine the severity of a right groin strain he sustained in Toronto. The team was awaiting results. . OF Boog Powell, on the DL since April 7 with a right knee sprain, started a running program last week and is about two weeks from sliding and baserunning drills. . RHP Andrew Triggs (right arm nerve irritation) had an MRI that showed no structural damage, trainer Nick Paparesta said. . RHP Paul Blackburn threw 45 pitches during an extended spring training game in Arizona on Monday. Blackburn will pitch in another extended spring game Saturday. He could start a minor league rehab assignment next week. . RHP Liam Hendricks (right groin strain) threw his third bullpen. He'll travel to Arizona to face live hitters in extended spring training on Friday ahead of a rehab assignment. . LHP Ryan Buchter played catch from 75 feet and could pitch off a mound next week, Paparesta said.

UP NEXT

Mariners: LHP Marco Gonzalez (3-3, 4.66 ERA) pitched 5 2/3 innings of shutout ball in his last start but wasn't involved in the decision in a 3-2 loss to the Tigers.

Athletics: RHP Daniel Gossett (0-1, 11.05) will be recalled from Triple-A Nashville. He was 4-0 with a 1.63 ERA in seven outings (five starts) with Nashville.