After surgeries, Chapman ready to help A's contend again

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Friday, March 8, 2019

MESA, Ariz. -- Matt Chapman didn't have a lot of time to savor his strong season -- or the Oakland Athletics' surprise playoff run -- during the winter.

The 25-year-old third baseman had planned to have surgery on his right thumb after the season ended, but he also ended up getting an operation on his left shoulder in December. Both injuries had been bothering Chapman for a while.

"The shoulder was kind of a fluke thing, but it was hurting me the last couple years," Chapman said. "Just overuse. ... I didn't really think it was anything besides just being sore."

Now he's ready to build on a year in which he hit 24 homers, won a Gold Glove and finished seventh in AL MVP voting.

His preparation has been compressed because of the surgeries and Oakland's early start to spring training and the regular season. The A's will travel to Japan to play the Seattle Mariners in the season-opening series on March 20-21.

"I think he's right on schedule," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said Friday. "We maybe got him in there a day earlier than we expected. He's running up close to 20 at-bats, which I didn't think we'd have right now. I think everything's going great with him."

Chapman has been to the plate 16 times this spring, with four walks and four hits including a double and a home run.

"Just getting more and more healthy and strong each day," he said. "No excuses now."

The A's won a surprising 97 games last year even with injuries to their entire starting rotation. Now they're aiming even higher.

"Hopefully continue to build on what we did last year," Chapman said. "One hundred wins. Win the division. If your goals going into the season aren't to win your division or make the playoffs, then what are you playing for?"

Chapman thinks his defense can improve even after he won the Gold Glove and the Platinum Glove, given to the best overall fielder in the AL. He made 20 errors last season and wants to reduce that number.

His defensive prowess invites comparisons to the NL Gold Glove third baseman, Nolan Arenado, who was just rewarded by the Colorado Rockies with an eight-year, $260 million deal.

"He obviously deserves that. He's also (would have been) a free agent at 27, I'm gonna be 30. It's a little different," Chapman said. "That's far in the future for me, but I'm off to a good start."

Game notes

LF Khris Davis (left calf strain) made his Cactus League debut on Friday. Davis, who has appeared in minor-league games this spring, was the designated hitter and batted cleanup. Facing San Diego prospect Chris Paddack, Davis struck out swinging on a 95-mph fastball in the first inning and flied to deep center in the fourth. Davis led the majors with 48 homers last season and drove in a career-high 123 runs. ... A's catcher Chris Herrmann underwent surgery on his right knee on Friday, Melvin said. The manager said there's no timetable for his return. Josh Phegley and Nick Hundley, a non-roster invitee, are the top remaining catchers in Oakland camp, and prospect Sean Murphy figures to get the call from the minors later in the season.