MESA, Ariz. -- Defense is a huge part of Mitch Moreland’s game. It’s something he takes a lot of pride in. But now that he’s joined the A’s, the defensive part of his game will have to take a back seat.
Despite the Gold Glove Award-winning first-base defense Moreland brought when his one-year deal with Oakland was officially announced on Tuesday, the club already boasts a two-time Gold Glover at first in Matt Olson. As a result, Moreland is expected to get most of his playing time as a designated hitter.
The shifting of roles is still a work in progress for Moreland as he enters camp. In preparation for the adjustment, he plans to devise a routine in Spring Training that will help smooth out the process.
“It's definitely going to be different, so I'm kind of looking forward to camp to figure out how to transition into that a little bit better,” Moreland said. “Get a game plan together for that job. I can't answer it yet. Maybe in a few weeks I can have a better answer. But that's definitely what I'm looking forward to in camp, figure out how I'm going to do it during the season a little bit better.”
Helping Moreland was his time with the Padres last season, where he ran into a similar situation at first base with the club already deploying another strong defender at the position in Eric Hosmer. Seeing an increase in time as the DH in San Diego, Moreland said he decided to treat those at-bats as pinch-hit opportunities. That would seem to be a solid idea, as Moreland is a .286 hitter with four homers, 23 RBIs and a .845 OPS in 98 at-bats as a pinch-hitter over his 11-year career.
“It was more or less just trying to figure out ways to kind of keep my body loose and stay engaged,” Moreland said. “It seems like when I pinch-hit, I've always been able to get myself ready for that one at-bat. I felt like if I broke it down that way that it would help me. I think it took me awhile to get that mindset, but there towards the end, that's kind of the way I treated it.
“I’ll just try to build off of what I picked up there and then add to it here and try to be ready to go when the season gets here.”
Missing outfielders in camp
The A’s are short a pair of outfielders that they were hoping to get a good look at this spring in Ka’ai Tom and Luis Barrera.
Tom, who was selected by Oakland in the Rule 5 Draft this offseason, is dealing with an oblique injury that has kept him out of the beginning of camp. Melvin said the injury could cause him to miss some games in the Cactus League early on, which begins Sunday against the Dodgers at Hohokam Stadium.
“He’s struggling a little bit. He’s a little bit behind,” Melvin said. “He’s not on the field as of right now. I don’t know about long term, but I would think he could be out at least a week into games. Could be longer.”
Barrera, rated the club’s No. 7 prospect per MLB Pipeline, is still in his home country of the Dominican Republic as he sorts out visa issues. He stood out as one of the top performers at the A’s alternate training site last year and could be in the mix for a spot on the Opening Day roster.
“This is a guy that we can’t wait to see on the field again,” Melvin said. “We felt like he was going to have an opportunity to get a lot more at-bats. He’s a nice player, and we look forward to getting him here at some point.”
A’s announce new ticket plan
The A’s introduced new ticket vouchers that will be sold for the upcoming regular season. The new program, called A’s FlexTix, allows fans to purchase ticket vouchers that can be redeemed for any regular-season home game in 2021 once fans are allowed back at the Oakland Coliseum.
“Given the current health and safety restrictions for events due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the A’s are planning for capacity restrictions for the entire 2021 season and defined 'pod' seating for fans,” the club said in a news release. “For the 2021 regular season, if games are canceled or played with additional restrictions that prevent fans from using their vouchers or tickets due to COVID-19, the A’s will provide a credit for future ticket purchases or a full refund."
The ticket vouchers will be available in amounts of four, eight, 16, and 32 in the Field Level, Plaza Level and bleachers of the Coliseum. FlexTix can be redeemed in seating “pods” of two or four tickets only, following social distancing guidelines as required by state and local health officials.
Those who purchase FlexTix will have the first priority to redeem tickets starting in mid-March before traditional single-game tickets go on sale. Fans can purchase A’s FlexTix at athletics.com/flextix.