Trevor Plouffe was riding in the A's team plane in 2017 when he received a birthday text message from then minor-league third baseman Matt Chapman. The top prospect had received the news that he had been called up to the major league team.
Plouffe couldn’t have been more proud of Chapman, who had been showing how skilled he was at third base during infield drills with former A’s coach Chip Hale.
“I was like, ‘Dude let me tell you, I am so excited, I’m so happy for you,’ ” Plouffe said on the latest episode of Balk Talk.
The excitement didn’t last long. With the debut of Chapman, it meant someone would have to leave the team to make room on the roster.
“Then I was like, wait a minute … I texted [Chapman] back I was like, ‘I love you so much, but I don’t think I’m going to see you in Oakland,' ” Plouffe said.
The A’s had to designate Plouffe for assignment. Manager Bob Melvin later confirmed the corresponding move.
The rest of the plane ride home was weird. Plouffe began to say his goodbyes to his A’s teammates.
But in a way, Plouffe saw it coming.
It was Matt Freaking Chapman and Plouffe knew from the moment they were fielding those Hale groundballs, he was special.
“It was the biggest eye-opening experience I’ve ever had in my career,” Plouffe said. “[Chapman] was so much better than me. I’m serious. Just all the movements. The first day we took groundballs, I said, ‘What am I doing here? Why am I here?' ”
Chapman had been on Plouffe’s radar heading into spring training in 2017, and admitted the moment he met Chapman, he loved him. The A’s approached Plouffe, who was 31 at the time, about being a type of mentor to Chapman.
“I knew at that point in my career -- I wanted to still be an impact-type player, but I understood that’s what I bring to the clubhouse as well,” Plouffe added.
Taking Chapman under his wing didn’t go unnoticed, and at the end of the day, Plouffe was very proud of the two-time Platinum Glove Award winner.
“Obviously, he’s turned into one of the better players in baseball,” Plouffe said.