This shortened A’s season is not a marathon. It’s a sprint.
Using baseball’s standard cliché in reverse already has jumped the shark, yet aptly describes a shortened 60-game season the coronavirus pandemic and an ill-timed labor dispute have brought upon us.
It does, however, need some clarification.
It’s not a 100-meter dash where you charge out of the blocks, run as fast possible and cross the finish in seconds with a bit of sweat on the brow.
This is a grueling 400, maybe even an 800-meter run where you go as fast as possible for longer than you should and feel like throwing up at the end.
The A’s will know that feeling well after playing 30 games in 31 days. Yeah, you read that right.
They’ll play 13 straight starting Friday night in Seattle, take a few deep breaths and chug some Gatorade on Aug. 13, and then go 17 more without respite.
Oh, and MLB demanded the A’s cut the current 30-man roster to 28 around this time next week and bring it to 26 two weeks after that.
And the A’s were worried about taxing their bullpen just over the first six games, when starters weren’t stretched out enough to go deep.
It’s all part of the job for Yusmeiro Petit, the workhorse and role model for an A’s bullpen that will shoulder a significant load even after the rotation works deeper into games.
“That’s part of the schedule, and you have to be ready for that,” Petit said. “You have to know when the off day is coming, and you have to prepare your body and your arm for a difficult stretch of games. You have to prepare well and work on recovering well after you pitch, because you will be needed again.”
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The A’s have several position players capable of playing every day, even over tough stretches. Marcus Semien played all 162 last season. Matt Chapman played 156. Matt Olson played 162 the year before, when Semien played 159 and Stephen Piscotty and Khris Davis played 151.
There are more off days written into the schedule over 162, though long stretches do occur. A’s manager Bob Melvin will want to keep his frontline players in the lineup as much as possible, though he has enough talented depth to feel comfortable giving guys a breather when it’s required over a 60-game slate compacted into just 66 days.
“We have a lot of good players and finding a lineup on a particular day sometimes will be difficult,” Melvin said. We know we can give guys days off and fill in with productive guys. One of the strengths of our team is that we feel comfortable using the entire roster.”