Athletics

Watch A's Nick Martini's family go wild after homer vs. hometown Cubs

Watch A's Nick Martini's family go wild after homer vs. hometown Cubs

In the team's first visit to Wrigley Field since 2010, Monday night's 6-5 loss to the Chicago Cubs probably wasn't how the A's drew things up.

After the A's took a 2-1 lead, Javier Baez smacked two home runs en route to giving the Cubs a commanding 6-2 lead.

The man who got the A's back in it during the eighth inning might have been the least likely candidate to do so. Nick Martini -- a Chicagoland native -- got his first chance in a young MLB career to play in his hometown with much of his family in attendance. 

Martini had just five at-bats this season headed into Monday's game, and was not in the starting lineup. However, he got an opportunity to pinch-hit in the top of the eighth inning and boy, did he take full advantage.

"Not only was it big for us but he really fought in the at-bat," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Martini's home run. "Fouled some pitches off, worked it deep in the count, and finally got a pitch he could put in play."

Martini's family was in attendance out in left field, and after being featured initially on the broadcast when Martini went to bat, they had an absolutely priceless reaction to seeing his first home run of the season in person.

While the A's were unable to complete the comeback, Martini cemented a signature moment at the ballpark where he grew up watching games. 

"It's all been pretty crazy,'' Martini told the Wichita Eagle in 2011 after being drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals. "I've been a Cubs fan ever since I can remember and always rooted for them. I tried to go to as many games at Wrigley Field as I could when I was younger. I've never actually liked the Cardinals.''

I'm not sure you could write a story any better for Martini, who spent over eight seasons laboring in the minor leagues before getting a chance in the majors. After the Cardinals finally released him in November 2017, the A's signed him just a few months later.

He performed admirably in his first major league season, hitting .296 over 179 at-bats with Oakland. His first career home run came in late September, during a 21-3 blowout win over the Los Angeles Angels. Martini hit the homer off Angels catcher Francisco Arcia, who was pitching in the seventh inning due to the lopsided score.

Bob Melvin made sure to remind the media of that fact after Monday's game.

"I think his second home run, first one off an actual pitcher, first one was off a position player," Melvin said as a slight grin crept over his face.

[RELATED: A's slugger Khris Davis unimpressed with himself, but excited about team]

Perhaps this could be a lightning rod for Martini personally. Although his opportunities have been extremely limited this season, he currently does provide the only lefty bat in the A's outfield corps. And with the team hitting just .239 against right-handed pitching going into Monday's game, the A's could use a few more strong at-bats from the left side down the stretch.

Such pure joy comes few and far between when a team plays 162 games a year, but moments like these are what makes people continue to religiously follow America's pastime. No matter what happens throughout the rest of the season, the Martini family now has a memory that none of them will ever forget.

A's closer Liam Hendriks a finalist for AL Reliever of the Year award

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A's closer Liam Hendriks a finalist for AL Reliever of the Year award

A's closer Liam Hendriks is one of three finalists for the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award.

Hendriks is joined by Astros closer Roberto Osuna and Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman. The NL finalists are Josh Hader, Will Smith, and Kirby Yates.

Hendriks, 30, enjoyed a breakout season in 2019, recording a 1.80 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. The right-hander notched 124 strikeouts in 85 innings, an A's franchise record for relievers, compared to just 21 walks.

Hendriks took over closing duties from Blake Treinen in the middle of the season and finished with 25 saves, along with eight holds. His 124 punchouts led AL relief pitchers and his 1.80 ERA ranked second among AL relievers with at least 40 innings.

Osuna posted a 2.63 ERA and 0.88 WHIP, with 73 strikeouts in 65 innings. Chapman finished with a 2.21 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, striking out 85 in 57 innings.

[RELATED: Hendriks' energy a big part of A's success]

The voting will be conducted by a panel of eight all-time great relief pitchers: Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, Lee Smith, John Franco, and Billy Wagner. Both the AL and NL awards will be presented on October 26, before Game 4 of the World Series.

Why A's should move on from Robbie Grossman in final arbitration year

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Why A's should move on from Robbie Grossman in final arbitration year

Editor's note: Over the next two weeks, we will examine 10 A's players who may or may not return to Oakland next season. For each player, we will provide reasons why the A's should bring him back and reasons why they should not, followed by a final determination.

Robbie Grossman, OF

Contract: Final year of arbitration (projected to get $3.3 million after earning $2 million this season)

Reasons to bring him back

Grossman provides versatility as a switch-hitter who can play all three outfield positions. He also has a strong record of reaching base, maintaining a .351 on-base percentage throughout his career.

The A's lineup is extremely right-handed heavy and they could certainly use another left-handed bat, particularly in the outfield. For $3.3 million, Grossman could add some value as a fourth or fifth outfielder.

Reasons to let him go

Grossman is coming off his worst season since 2015, hitting just .240/.334/.348 with six home runs and 38 RBI in 138 games. The 30-year-old has never provided much power, averaging just six homers per season in his career, with a high of 11 in 2016.

Oakland already has a crowded outfield with Ramón Laureano, Mark Canha, Stephen Piscotty, and Chad Pinder. The A's also have Dustin Fowler, Skye Bolt, and Seth Brown awaiting their opportunity in the minor leagues. Grossman isn't necessarily an upgrade over any of those names.

Final verdict

Due to their excellent outfield depth, the A's should move on without Grossman in 2020. That $3.3 million could be better spent in other areas -- relief pitching, as an example.

[RELATED: A's stay or go candidate for 2020 season: Josh Phegley]

If Grossman were to return, he would almost certainly be a bench player, and as we've noted, Oakland has plenty of other options to fill those fourth and fifth outfielder roles for far less than $3.3 million.