Adrian Beltre

How Jurickson Profar's talk with Adrian Beltre helped A's second baseman

How Jurickson Profar's talk with Adrian Beltre helped A's second baseman

This was not the first impression Jurickson Profar had in mind.

The A's new second baseman was mired in a 5-for-47 slump, held without a single RBI through his first 12 games. He was pressing, trying too hard to impress his new team.

That's when Profar made a phone call to recently retired third baseman Adrián Beltré, a long-time teammate in Texas, to wish him a happy 40th birthday. Beltre responded by providing Profar with some helpful advice.

"I just asked him about how he handled himself when he went to a new team," Profar told reporters. "I asked him about my swing and everything."

Whatever Beltré said worked, because in the next theee games, Profar went 6-for-12 with two home runs and seven RBI.

"Just the confidence," Profar explained. "He told me that he knows I'm going to do well. Just relax and do my thing, and that's it. ... He made me feel comfortable."

"We knew he was going to swing the bat well," A's manager Bob Melvin added. "He's probably a little bit more relaxed than he was."  

Profar, 26, had spent his entire career playing alongside Beltré in Texas before being traded to Oakland this past offseason. Last year, Profar had a breakout season, slashing .254/.335/.458 with 20 home runs, 35 doubles, and 77 RBI. The A's believed he would build on that performance this year, but it didn't start out that way.

"When you're with a new team, you want to get some hits and show the new team what you have to offer," Melvin said. "He certainly did that in the (Baltimore) series, not that he needed to because we've been on the other side. Last year he beat us up some, so we know what he can do at the plate."

It's also been a struggle for Profar defensively early on. He has already committed four errors, including a couple of costly errant throws in key situations. But Melvin believes Profar will get more comfortable playing second base as the season goes on.

"It's still kind of a new position for him, based on the fact he was on the other side of the diamond for the most part last year," Melvin told reporters. "Learning the angles, learning new players with Marcus at short and so forth, that all takes time. ... I think he enjoys the fact that he can come out and just work on one position consistently and know that's where he's going to be." 

[RELATED: Profar reflects on his time with Rangers]

Profar has drastically picked up his play of late, both offensively and defensively. He has raised his batting average from .106 to .191, driving in nine runs in his last six games. He credits that conversation with Beltré.

"I have a good friend in him and I can always call him and ask him for tips," Profar said. "If I ask him, he always will help. He's that kind of guy."

Adrian Beltre offers lofty praise of A's 3B Matt Chapman: 'I'm a fan'

Adrian Beltre offers lofty praise of A's 3B Matt Chapman: 'I'm a fan'

OAKLAND — Adrián Beltré will go down as one of the best two-way third basemen to ever play the game. The 39-year-old future Hall of Famer has belted 469 home runs in his storied career, while winning five Gold Gloves at the hot corner. But even Beltré has had to stop and take notice of A's 25-year-old rising star Matt Chapman.

“He's done great,” Beltré said. “He is great defensively and can be even better offensively. It's good to see young guys like that come up and play the game the right way and play hard. I'm a fan. ... I haven't seen a lot of people come up and show how good they can be -- maybe [Nolan] Arenado, [Manny] Machado, those guys.”

“It's definitely an honor to be considered in that category,” Chapman responded. “To hear him say things like that means I'm doing the right stuff. I feel like I've got a lot of work to do, but I appreciate the kind words. It means a lot.”

A Southern California native, Chapman grew up watching Beltré play for the Dodgers.

“I was a huge fan,” Chapman smiled. “I've always loved to watch good baseball players and he was somebody I always looked up to. ... It's been fun to play against him. It's been pretty cool to meet him. I got a bat signed by him.”

Throughout his young career, Chapman has dazzled fans and scouts alike with his almost cartoonish defensive ability. This season, he has taken his offense to another level, slashing .275/.361/.505. Since the All-Star break, Chapman leads all of baseball with 22 extra base hits, including seven home runs. But he'll still take a great defensive play over a homer.

“Making a play on defense, for sure,” he answered, without hesitation. “With offense, it's a lot more hard work to get the job done or do whatever you need to do. You still feel good about it, but for me, the defense is just more natural and more fun. ... Sometimes when I do things with the bat, I almost surprise myself, whereas defensively, I feel like I'm just really in the moment and expect those kind of things.”

Chapman and Beltré will go head-to-head Tuesday night when the A's host the Rangers. Like the rest of the baseball world, Beltré has been amazed by Oakland's remarkable run to the top of the AL West.

“As a baseball fan, I don't think anybody thought they would be competing with Houston like they are,” he said. “They have played well. It's always a good story when the underdog comes out and plays the way they have. ... It's nice to see a team like that putting it together and competing with the guys who are supposed to be leading the division.”

Was MLB wrong to suspend umpire Joe West?

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USATSI

Was MLB wrong to suspend umpire Joe West?

NEW YORK (AP) -- Joe West, the major leagues' senior umpire, has been suspended for three days without pay for comments he made about Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre.

In a USA Today report published June 20 timed to coincide with the umpire's 5,000th regular-season game, West said "it's got to be Adrian Beltre" when asked who was the biggest complainer in the major leagues.

"Every pitch you call that's a strike, he says, 'Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!' I had a game with him recently and the pitch was right down the middle. He tells me, 'That ball is outside,'" West was quoted as saying.

"I told him, 'You may be a great ballplayer, but you're the worst umpire in the league. You stink,'" West also was quoted as saying.

West was to have worked the Los Angeles Dodgers-Arizona Diamondbacks series in Phoenix, but the World Umpires Association said Tuesday that West was serving the first game of the suspension. It said Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred told the union in an Aug. 3 letter the discipline created an "appearance of lack of impartiality."

"Joking interactions between umpires and players are a routine part of the game," the union said in a statement. "We disagree strongly with the decision to punish Joe West simply for sharing a humorous exchange with a player."

MLB did not comment.

"I don't think that it was necessary to suspend him," Beltre said after the Rangers' 5-4 loss to the New York Mets. "Obviously, I know that he was kidding and after it happened a couple of weeks ago he came back home and I asked him exactly what happened and he told me he was just kidding with the reporter."

The 64-year-old West made his big league debut in September 1976 and trails only Bill Klemm (5,375) and Bruce Froemming (5,163) among regular-season games worked. West's 123 postseason games are 10 behind Gerry Davis' record.

"I play around with him. He plays around with me. And that was it," Beltre said. "I didn't think it was a big deal. I'm sad that it happened."

Rangers manager Jeff Banister did not fault West.

"There's no part of me that ever would think that any person - especially Joe West - would be partial to anything," Banister said.