Athletics

Stephen Vogt Q&A: Why former A's catcher believes he'll be good manager

Stephen Vogt Q&A: Why former A's catcher believes he'll be good manager

Few MLB players are equally loved on both sides of the Bay Area. But that is a claim Stephen Vogt can make. 

The Visalia native got to truly establish himself with the A's, becoming a huge fan-favorite in Oakland and developing one of the best personalities in recent decades. He was also able to play with the Giants last season, overcoming what was feared to be a career-ending shoulder injury. 

Now the catcher is on a one-year contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

With the start of the 2020 MLB season on hold due to the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, NBC Sports California recently caught up with Vogt via FaceTime. 

On Stephen’s current life situation, with his wife and three children all in isolation:
“We had planned on being in Arizona for eight months, we just didn’t think it would be like this. They [family] were all down here randomly when we got shut down, and being Washington residents, I wasn’t about to let them go back home at that time. That’s where this whole thing took off.”

On what keeps Vogt busy:
“We’re enjoying life, I’m a home-school teacher. I’m getting up-to-date on my second grade, and my kindergarten. We are crushing our penmanship and numbers right now.”

On what seems like an obvious post-playing career for Vogt:
“I’ve always wanted to manage. Playing for Bob (Melvin) and getting to know him for five seasons I was in Oakland, we still keep in touch here and there. I really do look up to him and would love nothing more than to follow in his footsteps and manage a big league team.”

On what skills Vogt has picked up to be a good manager, someday:
“I feel like I can relate to every player in a clubhouse. I’ve been one of the best players in the American League, I’ve been one of the worst players in the American League. I’ve been injured, released, traded. You name it. So no matter who walks in the doors of the clubhouse, I can relate to them, and that’s something that could really help when managing a team.

On the memorable “I believe in Stephen Vogt” chant:
"It’s really hard to put into words what that means to myself, and my family. And the way the fans in Oakland got behind us from the beginning. It’s not like I was a top prospect, and everyone was waiting for Stephen Vogt to get to the Coliseum. More like, ‘Who the heck is this guy catching?’ And, ‘Are we even trying here?' It was a way I felt every time I stepped into the box and heard it, that these fans they truly support us as a team, me as a player.”

On his signature memory with the A’s, 2013 ALDS Game 2:
“A lot of people talk about the walk-off hit. That was obviously one of my highlights. But for me it was the strike ’em out, throw ’em out in the fifth. Everybody always knocked my defense, I've never been touted as this great defensive catcher. But Bob [Melvin] and the A’s believed in me. To have that moment, and Sonny [Gray] throwing a shutout against [Justin] Verlander, that whole night is what I will always remember about being with the A’s.”

[RELATED: Vogt excited to be Bumgarner's teammate]

On what comes next for MLB, and a shortened season:
“There’s so many different layers to baseball coming back. From security guards, to clubhouse personnel, to the camera crews, the players, coaches, the staff. It’s a lot bigger than just 50 guys showing up to the field and playing a pickup game. I hope they call me today, and say ‘We’re reporting tomorrow. Let’s go.’ I’d be all for it. That being said, we need to make sure that we’re protecting everyone. Not just the players not just the coaches.”

A's coach Ryan Christenson says apparent Nazi salute was unintentional

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A's coach Ryan Christenson says apparent Nazi salute was unintentional

A's bench coach Ryan Christenson said he "unintentionally" gave a Nazi salute during Oakland's celebratory handshake line after Thursday's win over the Texas Rangers.

"I made a mistake and will not deny it," Christenson said in a statement released by the team. "Today in the dugout I greeted players with a gesture that was offensive. In the world today of [COVID-19] I adapted our elbow bump, which we do after wins, to create some distance with the players. My gesture unintentionally resulted in a racist and horrible salute that I do not believe in. What I did is unacceptable, and I deeply apologize."

The NBC Sports California broadcast showed Christenson raising his right arm with his palm facing down while A's closer Liam Hendriks approached.  Hendriks quickly grabbed Christenson's arm, bending it at the elbow for the coach's "elbow bump" celebration, which he said is done due to MLB's coronavirus safety protocols. Christenson then turned around and repeated the initial gesture.

"No, no straight arm, you have to bend your elbow," Christenson said Hendriks told him in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser, referring to the coach's usual celebration.

"Oh, I see what you mean, oh no, it's like 'Heil Hitler,' " Christenson said after he turned, in his and Hendriks' recounting to Slusser.

The salute, typically followed by exclamations of "Heil Hitler" or "Sieg Heil," was a compulsory tribute to Adolf Hitler within the Nazi Party and, later, all of Germany under the Nazis' rule from 1933 through 1945. Still used by neo-Nazis and white supremacists long after the end of World War II, the Anti-Defamation League says the salute is "the most common white supremacist hand sign in the world."

The A's said in a statement that they were "deeply sorry this happened on our playing field."

"We do not support or condone this gesture, or the racist sentiment behind it," the A's said in a statement. "This is incredibly offensive, especially in these times when we as a [club] and many others are working to expose and address racial inequities in our country."

Before the A's released the pair of statements, Christenson told Slusser that he "wasn't doing that intentionally" and that "I just blacked out, my mind wasn't there and I spaced out."

"I'm cringing inside picturing myself," Christenson told Slusser. "Of course I'm sorry for it -- it's like standing there with my middle finger up. Anyone should know better."

A's Khris Davis reveals adjustment that led to production at plate

A's Khris Davis reveals adjustment that led to production at plate

Whatever he’s doing appears to be working.

Khris Davis proved his recent adjustment at the plate is paying dividends, as he tallied his second multi-hit game of the season during the A’s 6-4 sweep over the Texas Rangers on Thursday.

Davis said the coaching staff and teammates are to thank for the recent surge -- particularly hitting coach Darren Bush, who first suggested an alteration with Davis' hands.

“Yeah, I just put my hands back and further up a little and it’s been helping me be more accurate to the ball,” Davis said after the game. “I’m finding less swings and misses and a little better contact.”

“It’s all pretty comfortable right away, usually when you have to make an adjustment and you feel it click, you just run with that and don’t look back so it’s brought some comfort in the box so I’m going to keep working with it,” Davis said.

Davis went 2-for-3 on Thursday, driving in two runs in the 4th inning to break the game open.

“I think it’s a positioning thing, just having them further back -- less room to go,” he added. “They’re just already ready to fire and it’s been working.”

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Davis wants to be the everyday designated hitter, but that hasn’t necessarily been the case with his lack of production. Mark Canha has been taking over the DH spot in some of the outings, but it’s something Davis is ready to earn back.

“It is what it is,” Davis said. “And, I just have to capitalize on my opportunities that I do get. It’s s--tty, but I’ve been here before, I’ve lost my job before a couple times and I’ve had to battle back and this is nothing new to me.”

It turns out the oblique injury Davis suffered last season when he ran into the wall in May ended up leaving a bigger mark than just on his skin. 

"I think when I got hurt, I had been getting set up in a different way,” Davis said. “My body just wasn’t adjusting to that injury and just when I put my hands further back it just freed things up.”

[RELATED: Luzardo's outing shows A's have something special]

Oh, and his teammates are helping him a lot too.  

“A lot of good teammates, they know what it’s like to go through a struggle and they just kept reminding me that I could hit all around, I don’t have to hit a home run or whatever, but they constantly say that I’m a good hitter, I’m [not just] a power hitter.”