As if Joey Wendle’s offseason wasn’t busy enough, he flew to Dallas this week to attend the Collective Bargaining Agreement meetings between the players’ association and Major League Baseball owners.
Wendle was one of five Athletics who were at the meetings, along with Yonder Alonso, John Axford, Daniel Coulombe and Andrew Triggs. That quintet didn’t play an active part in negotiations. But Wendle, a second baseman who received his first big league call-up in September, said it was time well spent as he made the effort to educate himself about baseball’s labor issues.
“It peaked my interest and I decided to come on out for a couple of days,” Wendle said while waiting to catch a flight back home to Pennsylvania. “I’m aware that we have probably the best sports union of any in the world. I just wanted to come see what it was all about.”
Wendle declined to discuss any of the major details in the CBA, saying he didn’t feel it was his position to comment as a player with so little service time. But he was proud that five A’s showed up, estimating it was among the largest contingent of players from any team.
Wendle, who used an impressive September to play his way into the second base picture, has been on the go since the regular season wrapped. He quickly went to Mexico to play winter ball with Yaquis de Obregon of the Mexican League. Wendle played mostly second base, but, to his surprise, he also made a string of starts at shortstop early in the season. A shortstop who was originally in the team’s plans didn’t pan out, so Wendle found himself logging innings at a position he hadn’t played since high school.
That was OK with Wendle, who volunteered to play winter ball because he wanted to gain experience at another position besides second.
“When I went initially, I thought I’d play some third base,” Wendle said. “I showed up and they told me I’d be playing some shortstop. It’s something I got more familiar with as the games went on. I’m still most comfortable at second base. But anytime you can add a position and play the left side of the infield, it can help you as a player.”
A’s officials are happy with Wendle’s improvement defensively. His offensive numbers in his September call-up don’t jump off the page — .260, one homer, 11 RBI in 28 games — but he provided a spark for a stretch as the A’s leadoff hitter.
Wendle swung a hot bat during winter ball, hitting .307 with three homers and 25 RBI in 34 games. His 18 extra-base hits stand out for a player who had just two in his 28 games with Oakland.
“In that environment, I was able to focus on some areas I wanted to work on. I was able to take it on as a learning experience,” Wendle said.
Now, after an extended season that began back in February — plus a quick lesson in baseball labor relations — he’ll enjoy a well-deserved break.