Pinder breaks records after inspiring hospital visit

September 7th, 2022

OAKLAND -- The final month of the regular season can become a grind for some players. After making a pair of special visits prior to Tuesday night’s game, however, there was no shortage of inspiration for Chad Pinder to go out and perform on the baseball field.

Earlier in the morning, Pinder was joined by teammate Stephen Vogt and A’s team mascot Stomper for a trip to Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland to meet with pediatric patients. Later on in the day, Pinder spent time during batting practice interacting with 10 kids from Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area that were hosted by the A’s for Childhood Cancer Awareness Day at the Coliseum.

Fueled by the stories he learned of the many patients and families who are battling together, Pinder came off the bench and keyed a spirited comeback attempt in the A’s 10-9 loss to the Braves by launching a game-tying three-run home run in the fifth inning as part of a two-hit effort.

“It was really inspiring to see the energy that they still had and how happy they were even in the situation that life has given them,” Pinder said. “For me, it’s just one of those things that put life and baseball into perspective. All the things that are most important in this life. That was something today that I’ll never forget.”

Now that he’s a father to a two-year-old son, Christopher James, Pinder said he felt a greater deal of emotion while reflecting on his overall day. A reminder of the things in life that are bigger than baseball.

“It was very humbling,” Pinder said. “Ever since my son was born, that’s the first time I’ve been able to do something like that. To go to the hospital and see the pediatric oncology patients, it just brings you right down to earth.”

That Pinder’s motivating homer came on a day in which he wasn’t in the starting lineup should come as no surprise. In his seven seasons with the A’s, Pinder has emerged as somewhat of a pinch-hit extraordinaire. In fact, his homer off Braves left-hander Dylan Lee on a first-pitch fastball was the sixth pinch-hit homer of his career, setting an A’s franchise record (1901-present).

“Chad’s done an unbelievable job with that role,” said A’s manager Mark Kotsay. “He’s had that role here for several years, especially against left-handed pitching. It just feels like, you put him in there and there’s just so much confidence that he’s gonna get a big hit. He did that tonight.

“Setting the franchise record for pinch-hit home runs, it’s a pretty amazing feat. I know there’s a coach in our locker room that held it at one point. I saw him hang his head when that ball went over the fence. I couldn’t figure out why until after.”

Kotsay was referencing quality control coach Mike Aldrete, who was among the five former A’s (Aldrete, Jeff Burroughs, Mark McGwire, Terry Steinbach, Gus Zernial) who shared the previous record broken by Pinder.

“It's always nice to get one up on Aldo,” Pinder said. “It’s something cool. It’s something I take pride in. My last few pinch-hit [at-bats] haven’t been that great. To do that there in that situation was good for me and my confidence as well.”

Prior to Tuesday’s homer, Pinder was just 2-for-12 in pinch-hit appearances this season. For his career, though, the A’s super-utility man is now 22-for-90 (.244), with his 24 pinch-hit RBIs also setting an Oakland record, dating back to 1968.

What goes into the art of successful pinch-hitting? According to the man who held the previous pinch-hit homer record in Aldrete, it takes an uncomplicated approach at the plate, which he’s seen Pinder master in his time with Oakland.

“It requires a simple swing and a simple approach,” Aldrete said. “To complicate hitting is not a good thing. I’m not saying I had anything to do with it, but to have someone that has done that to talk to that you can bounce things off of, those are things I told him. You just have to be simple because you don’t have time to think up there. Essentially, that’s how he’s done it. .. He’s pretty good.”