Athletics manager Bob Melvin recently praised Tony Kemp, saying the infielder had been playing well for the A’s for a while now.
Heading into the A's 4-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday at the Coliseum, Kemp was batting .389 with seven hits, three RBI and a 1.177 OPS in his previous eight games.
Kemp added another hit in four at-bats Saturday.
Kemp’s humble demeanor, however, proved his role on the A’s is bigger than those impressive numbers.
“It’s always nice when you can get regular at-bats, but I think my role on this team is just whenever I can get inserted into that lineup to make an impact whether it’s on defense, offense, on the base paths or just keeping the team loose no matter what,” Kemp said following the loss Saturday.
Kemp has been a starter for large portions of his MLB career, and while he has been part of the A's second base competition for two seasons now, he has the ability to play the outfield if need be. “It’s a long season and you just try to make it as positive as you can,” Kemp added. “We’re all out there playing the game of failure at the highest level. Can’t get too down on each other and I think just picking each other up is the best part about it. Just being able to play the game I love and play it hard is the only way I know. Anytime I can get on that field, you never know when someone’s watching you for the first time so just try to play hard every time I get a chance.
“At the end of the day it is technically my job to come off the bench and do good, but it definitely is hard,” Kemp said.
Kemp said that mindset began during his rookie season in 2016 with the Houston Astros when he was called up from Triple-A and he initially only got a few pinch-hit at-bats.
“Now being a little bit more mature and understanding the game, you only get one crack at it and you can’t take that at-bat into the next day and you have to have short term memory so -- just being able to come off the bench and trust yourself,” Kemp said. “I think that’s the biggest thing.”