Lucroy's veteran presence a boon to young A's
OAKLAND -- Jonathan Lucroy wasn't in the lineup on Sunday. He wishes he had been.
"I do want to be in there every day," Lucroy said. "Obviously, unselfishly I need to take breaks here and there. Selfishly, I don't want to."
It's hard to blame him. With the A's rising up the standings and Lucroy's bat getting hot -- he is 11-for-35 (.314) over his last 10 games -- the veteran catcher has become a key cog on a roster full of unassuming youngsters.
His stats belie his full impact, however. Lucroy has been a consistent presence behind the plate for a pitching staff that has dealt with injuries all season. Four starters have had to undergo Tommy John surgery this year alone. Two more are on the disabled list. Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill and Edwin Jackson -- all journeymen -- have become unexpected pieces of a starting rotation in the midst of a playoff race.
"Anytime you've got a veteran guy on the mound that's pitched in big situations and has been in the playoffs and been around awhile, they get it," Lucroy said. "They know how to simplify the game and slow it down. That's the difference between veterans and rookie players. A lot of time the rookie players -- they're caught up, they get a little bit excited, versus veterans, they're better at slowing the game down."
That's not to say Lucroy doesn't enjoy working with rookies. Manager Bob Melvin said that Lucroy has a calming impact on younger pitchers.
"With those younger guys, they don't have to think on the mound," Melvin said. "They have faith that [Lucroy's] going to put the right numbers down."
Lucroy, whom the A's signed late in the free-agency process, said it wasn't difficult learning the tendencies of a new pitching staff. He has been traded before the Deadline in each of the past two seasons -- from the Brewers to the Rangers in 2016, and from the Rangers to the Rockies in 2017 -- and had to catch up in a couple of days. Prior to 2016, he had only played for the Brewers.
"Here, I had plenty of time," Lucroy said. "I know all the guys real well, what they like to do, their tendencies, that they can execute. I tell you what, it gives me a lot of weapons at my disposal to get hitters out."
Lucroy has also held his own behind the plate, leading all catchers with 61 assists. He has thrown out 18 attempted basestealers, ranking second in the Majors. He leads AL catchers with 82 games started. For Melvin, Lucroy's importance to the team can't be quantified.
"A lot of the stuff he does doesn't show up in the stats, but they're significant where the game goes," Melvin said. "From the day he's gotten here, he's been one of the bigger personalities and one of the leaders of the team."
Pinder ready to go
Chad Pinder will come off the disabled list Tuesday in time for the series against the Dodgers, Melvin said. Pinder sustained a left elbow laceration in a car accident in Denver last Saturday.
"He went through the whole bit today," Melvin said. "Hit off the machine, did all the defensive work the last three days. He's been a full go."