Athletics

From Venezuela to Oakland: Nunez's first homer as amazing as he dreamed

From Venezuela to Oakland: Nunez's first homer as amazing as he dreamed

ARLINGTON, Texas — Whenever Renato Nunez gets a major league call-up, he brings a pretty impressive minor league portfolio with him.

On Friday night, his A’s teammates got an up-close look at his raw power. He launched a tough fastball from Martin Perez for an opposite field three-run homer to right-center, a highlight in Oakland’s 5-3 loss to the Rangers at Globe Life Park.

It was a special moment for Nunez, a 23-year-old whose 32 homers with Triple-A Nashville this season tied for the second-highest total in all of the minor leagues. He proudly displayed his home run ball that the A’s were able to fetch from the crowd.

“That moment, I imagined, dreamed all my life,” said Nunez, who signed with the A’s out of Venezuela at age 16. “It’s very exciting that happened today.”

His wasn’t the only big individual moment for the A’s. Jed Lowrie set a new Oakland single-season record with his 48th double, which he collected in the fourth off Perez. That pushed him past Jason Giambi, who hit 47 in 2001, a year after Giambi was the American League MVP.

“That’s pretty impressive. There’e some pretty good hitters to run through Oakland,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “It’s a real testament to what kind of hitter he is.”

Lowrie had the ball and bat in his possession that he used for the double. He also was given the lineup card from the game and he put in a request to take home the second base bag that was used Friday as well.

“It’s almost 50 years (the A’s have been in Oakland),” Lowrie said. “That’s some really good players, so to be on top of any offensive category is pretty cool.”

Nunez, his young teammate, is at a much different point in his career. This is his second stint in the bigs — he made his debut last September — and he’s trying to open eyes and show that he’s a future piece for the A’s, alongside other young building blocks like Ryon Healy, Matt Chapman and Matt Olson.

The right-handed hitting Nunez has some of the best natural power in the minors. And considering he’s worked hard this season on using the whole field, he delighted in drilling his first big league homer to right-center.

The trick is finding him a spot defensively. He’s come up through the farm system as a third baseman, but with Chapman seemingly growing roots at third in the bigs, the A’s have experimented with Nunez in left field. Melvin also says Nunez might get time at first base next spring too. On Friday, he served as designated hitter against the lefty Perez.

“We try to get some good spots for him, some good matchups for him,” Melvin said. “You look at his numbers throughout the minor leagues every year, he’s a real power hitter. But we see enough of him in spring and know enough about him to know he can really hit.”

A's closer Blake Treinen pitches perfect inning in All-Star homecoming

A's closer Blake Treinen pitches perfect inning in All-Star homecoming

A's closer Blake Treinen last pitched at Nationals Park just over a year ago. 

On July 7, 2017, Treinen retired all three batters he faced in his last inning of action with the Washington Nationals, before being traded to Oakland.

375 days later, he did the same thing, this time as an All-Star. The NL All-Stars went three up, three down against Treinen in his Midsummer Classic debut.

Along the way, Treinen even received help from his A's teammate and fellow first-time All-Star, second baseman Jed Lowrie.

An All-Star combination. #RootedInOakland

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Thanks to his perfect sixth inning, 30-year-old reliever handed off a 2-1 lead to AL teammate Charlie Morton in the seventh inning. Morton relinquished the lead on a Trevor Story solo homer. 

Treinen pitched for the Nationals from 2014-17. Oakland traded Treinen, a 2011 seventh-round draft pick, to Washington as part of a three-team deal in 2013. Fans in D.C. gave him a warm welcome to his former home. 

Jed Lowrie hopes A's front office recognizes opportunity this year

Jed Lowrie hopes A's front office recognizes opportunity this year

The Oakland A's last made the playoffs in 2014. Beginning about a month after Salvador Perez walked Oakland off in the 12th inning of the AL Wild Card Game, the A's began the process of reshaping their team, trading away key players such as All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson and letting others walk away in free agency.

Oakland second baseman Jed Lowrie, who's set to appear in his first-ever MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday, was one of those players. Naturally, the 34-year-old has a unique perspective, now that his A's have the sixth-best record in baseball. 

On Monday, Pedro Martinez asked Lowrie on MLB Network if the A's are going to stay together this time.

"You know, I've been in Oakland when we've actually added pieces," Lowrie said. "And I think that front office knows an opportunity when they see it, and hopefully they see the opportunity this year because I think we've got a good group."

His bosses might be one step ahead of him. A's executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Bean told The Athletic on Friday that his team is prepared to add at the trade deadline. General manager David Forst, meanwhile, told Jim Rome last week that his team "deserves a chance to stay together."

Does Lowrie believe it? 

“Like I said, it’s a smart group, and I think they recognize an opportunity when it presents itself,” Lowrie added in the MLB Network interview.

At 55-42, the A's might just have that opportunity.