Bride's 1st MLB hits 'a huge accomplishment'

Versatile A's infielder-catcher logs pair of singles just 2 days after promotion to bigs

June 16th, 2022

BOSTON -- On Sunday night, Jonah Bride was pulled after his first at-bat in the Triple-A Las Vegas Aviators' game in Sugar Land, Texas. He grounded to second base for the second out -- not a hitter’s ideal outcome, but probably not enough to get taken out of the game.

Once the inning was over, Bride went to retrieve his glove and make his way to third base. Las Vegas manager Fran Riordan stopped Bride in his tracks and told him he was done for the night.

“I was like, ‘I ran that ball out good, nothing happened,’” Bride said. “So I kind of had an idea once I got taken out of the game.”

As his teammates started giving him looks on the bench, Bride’s suspicions were confirmed by his manager: The A’s No. 26 prospect per MLB Pipeline was going to Boston to make his Major League debut.

Two days later, the 26-year-old utility man did just that in the series opener at Fenway Park. The following day, Bride recorded his first and second big league hits in the A’s 10-1 loss to the Red Sox on Wednesday night.

“Yeah, man, it's great to get that out of the way, a huge accomplishment for sure,” said Bride, who had a number of family and friends in the crowd. “But hopefully come out tomorrow, come get a win and then head back to Oakland. But yeah, it was a great feeling.”

Bride opened the third inning of Wednesday’s game with a 90.7 mph groundout. Luckily this time, he wasn’t taken out of the game. Instead, Bride stepped up to the plate with two outs in the fifth and connected on a 94.4 mph sinker for a single.

Without hesitation, Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts flipped the ball to the A’s dugout, knowing this was one Bride would want to hold onto.

Tony Kemp singled in the next at-bat and Bride hustled to third, attempting to jump-start an Oakland rally. Bride would have to wait for his first run scored, as Ramón Laureano ended the threat with a groundout. The A’s lone run came in the sixth inning on Matt Davidson’s homer, which traveled a projected 431 feet and marked the sixth straight game in which the club hit a home run.

“He took three good at-bats [Tuesday night] with two strikes, and again tonight,” manager Mark Kotsay said of Bride. “It was great to see him get his first Major League hit. Big moment for Jonah, happy for him. And then he followed it up with another knock, so [I] like the way he’s taken his at-bats.”

Bride was taken by Oakland in the 23rd round of the 2018 MLB Draft out of the University of South Carolina.

In his three years at S.C., Bride primarily played third base (184 games), with three games at second. Now four years into his professional career, Bride is the ultimate utility man with experience at first, second, third and catcher. Though the A’s have no shortage of catchers, Bride learned how to play the position in 2021 on the advice of assistant general manager Billy Owens.

“The running kind of comment of the day from Sean Murphy has been, ‘We got four catchers in the lineup,’” Kotsay said on Tuesday. “So Jonah's our emergency catcher, but we have three catchers in front of him. He'll play third, he'll play second. He could be used at first if needed. But the primary spots would be third and second. … To have that versatility, you know, being able to catch and go play another position, it's pretty awesome. Some athleticism to those guys. [Christian] Betancourt and him.”

In Wednesday’s game, Bride showed some of the discipline that earned him a promotion to Las Vegas after just 19 games with Double-A Midland, and then his promotion to the bigs.

His third-inning groundout came on the third pitch of the at-bat and was hit sharply to first baseman Franchy Cordero. Two innings later, Bride found the gap between first and second on the sixth pitch of the at-bat for his first knock.

“I just try to control the strike zone and be disciplined and hit the ball where it's pitched. I try to find a barrel and just go take quality at-bats,” Bride said.