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Lucroy shutting down running game early on

Special to MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- Jonathan Lucroy put his thumb and index finger in front of his face and held the digits an inch apart.

"Small adjustments," the A's veteran catcher said Friday from the visiting clubhouse at Angel Stadium.

View Full Game Coverage

ANAHEIM -- Jonathan Lucroy put his thumb and index finger in front of his face and held the digits an inch apart.

"Small adjustments," the A's veteran catcher said Friday from the visiting clubhouse at Angel Stadium.

View Full Game Coverage

The year is young, but in his first season in Oakland, Lucroy looks to be distancing himself from a rough season throwing out baserunners in 2017. 

Lucroy threw out five would-be basestealers in Oakland's just-completed series against the Rangers. And on one of those plays in particular, that small adjustment made a huge difference, and has become something that Oakland plans to lean on all season.

Lucroy and shortstop Marcus Semien saw on video that they just missed throwing out an Angels basestealer in the opening series of the season. Semien took a Lucroy throw out in front of the bag, toward home plate, and tried to make a sweeping tag. The runner was safe.

Against the Rangers, the same exact play occurred, with identical timing, and this time Semien waited a beat longer for the ball to arrive to him. He dropped down the tag in time.

"Same throw, and we made the adjustment and got the guy out," Semien said. "Same timing and everything. Safe vs. out. It was just us talking in the video room about certain plays, and he's a really good communicator. That's going to be huge for not only the young pitchers but the group we have of position players."

Video: TEX@OAK: Lucroy throws out Robinson, call confirmed

Asked about his early-season improvements in the running game, Lucroy made sure the pitchers and the infielders got credit for the success too. But after throwing out just 23 percent of basestealers last season, Lucroy made sure to improve that part of his game this year.

"Last year wasn't me," Lucroy said. "That's not who I am."

But he also knew that one bad year didn't have to define him. He has thrown out 28 percent of basestealers in his career, and was as high as 39 percent in 2016, the year he was traded from the Brewers to the Rangers.

Since 2010, Lucroy has thrown out 182 runners trying to steal, the most by any Major League catcher in that span. The three he threw out against the Rangers on Tuesday were the most by an A's catcher in a game since Stephen Vogt threw out three in July of 2015 against the Indians.

"It's just getting back to rededicating yourself, refocusing on the things you can do whether it be footwork, transfer stuff, arm strength, building that up," Lucroy said. "I've been working on all that to bring it all together. But that's really what it's all about."

Video: TEX@OAK: Lucroy nabs another runner to end the frame

If the A's had a concern this season it was with that young starting rotation. After the first eight games, the young staff has looked promising with Lucroy behind the plate. And so far, nobody has been able to get away with picking on the A's on the base paths.

"We've had some difficulty the last couple years throwing guys out and it's a boost," manager Bob Melvin said. "You get an out on the bases like that, and a couple of times a third with two guys on, it gets you back in the dugout and gives you a nice little momentum boost."

It has become the scenario the A's were looking for when they signed Lucroy on March 12.

"We knew he could throw," Melvin said. "He's put together some really good times and he's off to a good start with that. He's relating to the pitchers really well and has done a real nice job for us."

Worth noting
The A's expect outfielder Trayce Thompson to join the team on Saturday in Anaheim. Thompson was claimed off waivers from the Yankees this week. The Yankees had just claimed him off waivers from the Dodgers.

Thompson, the brother of Golden State Warriors star Klay Thompson, will have some familiarity around him as he joins the A's. Angel Stadium is about 20 miles from where Thompson grew up in south Orange County. The A's will then head to Dodger Stadium for an Interleague series. Thompson played in 107 games with the Dodgers over the past two seasons.

And in the A's clubhouse is Semien, who played with Thompson in the Chicago White Sox's organization.

Doug Padilla is a contributor to MLB.com.

Oakland Athletics, Jonathan Lucroy