First-round pick Martin spends day with A's
Infielder is victim of practical joke on day he agrees to terms with club
OAKLAND -- When first-round Draft pick Richie Martin arrived at the A's clubhouse Tuesday decked in a suit and tie and sporting an A's hat, he was met with an unpleasant surprise.
In his locker sat a Virginia hat, sneakily placed there by former UVA pitcher Sean Doolittle. The Cavaliers knocked Martin's Florida Gators out of the NCAA tournament, and Doolittle wanted to have a little fun.
"I'm like, 'Dang, man, that's rude,'" Martin said, smiling. "First day I get here you're gonna do that to me?"
Besides that, Martin said everyone was extremely welcoming. After the A's announced they had agreed to terms with Martin on Tuesday, the 20-year-old shortstop took batting practice and played the field.
Martin will fly to Vermont on Wednesday and start at shortstop for Class A Short Season Vermont Lake Monsters on Thursday.
He had a chance to meet some of the players he grew up watching on TV on Tuesday, including former Rays Scott Kazmir and Ben Zobrist. Someday, Martin said, he hopes to play with those two and other A's.
"It's awesome," Martin said. "It's all sinking in now. These past days they've been spoiling me and treating me like a king."
He and A's shortstop Marcus Semien chatted at short while fielding grounders.
On Martin's second throw, he threw the ball into nearby netting instead of the first baseman's glove, but he shook it off and showed impressive range and a strong arm.
A's manager Bob Melvin said he met Martin briefly and that he seemed like a nice kid. Tuesday was a chance for Melvin and Co. to see Martin in person, and for Martin to get some Major League exposure.
"It gives them a taste of what being around big leaguers is like, so it's an important day for them," Melvin said.
Martin also met A's general manager Billy Beane.
"When I met him he was making jokes and the whole time he was smiling," Martin said.
Martin, whose parents joined him and snapped pictures, said one main takeaway from the day is that he now realizes he can play with big leaguers.
"They look huge on TV," Martin said, "but I'm the same size as some of these guys, so that's kind of a nice thing to notice."