Just like too many years in Oakland, the Athletics let some key players leave in free agency this year, notably shortstop Marcus Semien. But not every prominent player is gone.
Gold Glove third baseman Matt Chapman is back, though he’s coming off hip surgery. Per Alex Coffey of The Athletic, manager Bob Melvin says there are no restrictions on Chapman, though he’ll start spring training games at DH. He also said his defensive stopper will start to man the hot corner in the second week of spring ball.
But a healthy right hip pays dividends to Chapman’s entire game, to no surprise, including his swing. After amassing 36 home runs and earning an All-Star birth in 2019, the third baseman says he feels like his old self again.
“It feels amazing, it’s nice to feel like I got both legs under me. Especially my right leg, which is my dominant leg,” [Chapman] said on a Zoom call. “I like to push off my throw and drive off my swing. So, to have that strength back took pressure off my knee and back, which was hurting a lot there toward the end.”
He added: “I felt very inconsistent when I’d load onto my back leg. I felt all over the place in the batter’s box. That’s why the hard hits were still there, but the strikeouts and chases were up. Because it was hard to be consistent.”The Athletic/Alex Coffey
It sounds like Chapman is ready to make amends for a disappointing 2020. But it was a wild year, with the pandemic, and Chapman was apparently severely affected by his injured hip. He’s one of the most entertaining players in the Big Leagues when he’s right, and all eyes will be on him in spring training as he looks to recover and potentially become the face of the franchise, at least for the time being.
(Photo credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)