Chapman looking healthy -- and fit -- at camp

February 19th, 2021

A’s position players don’t have to report to Spring Training until Monday. But given 's relentless work ethic, it should come as no surprise that the star third baseman has arrived early.

During the club’s workout for pitchers and catchers on Thursday, Chapman, who is returning from season-ending hip surgery last September, was tucked away on a practice field at the A’s training facility at Fitch Park taking grounders from manager Bob Melvin.

There was one notable difference Melvin noticed during the session — Chapman appears a bit trimmer, perhaps from the diligent rehab process he went through in the offseason. Mobility-wise, however, the two-time Gold and Platinum Glove Award winner is moving as well as he did prior to the hip injury.

“I hit him some ground balls yesterday and I didn't see anything different,” Melvin said during a Zoom call on Friday. “We just gave him a few. I didn't make him go too far, but he's eager. It’s going to be more trying to hold him back than trying to get him ready.”

The A’s will use extreme caution in easing their franchise player back. When the team opens up Cactus League play -- Oakland’s first game is on Feb. 28 against the Dodgers at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Ariz. — Chapman is likely to get some starts as the designated hitter early in the schedule. That plan will be put together in conjunction with the club’s training staff. But at this point, any concerns of whether the 2019 All-Star can return to his old form appear to be quelled.

“He’s very driven,” Melvin said. “He’s a hard-working guy, so there was never a doubt in my mind that he would be hitting all the markers along the way. I think the only thing you worry about is if he's trying to push it too hard to get back, but he's not.

“He's doing everything that he's asked to do and he understands that, to come back from this injury, you can't push it too much. You have to rely and trust in what the training staff is telling you to do, and he's doing exactly that.”

Petit officially returns

The A’s announced the signing of right-hander Yusmeiro Petit to a one-year deal on Friday, which will see him back with the club for a fourth season after performing as one of the top relievers out of the bullpen over the past three years.

To make room for Petit on the 40-man roster, Frankie Montas was placed on the COVID-19 related injury list. Melvin, who on Wednesday disclosed that Montas was experiencing flu-like symptoms, was unsure of a timetable for the right-hander to join the club in camp.

Legends in camp

The A’s have a tradition of bringing in past greats such as Rickey Henderson and Dave Stewart as a resource for players in camp. Hall of Fame left-hander Randy Johnson even made an appearance during last year’s Spring Training for a private session with southpaws Jesús Luzardo, Sean Manaea and A.J. Puk. But due to the COVID-19 protocols in place for this season, it appears that tradition will have to be placed on hold.

“There are different tiers, and there are very few people that are in tier one which can be on a field with our guys,” Melvin said. “We'll see how it goes as we go along. I'd love to have those guys at some point in time during the season. They're so impactful here.

“They make my Spring Training meetings easy. I do a little soft shoe, and then I turn it over to Stew and Rickey at the end and they have a pretty good track record of postseason appearances with their Spring Training speeches. For guys that are stars, they don't act like it around our guys, and our guys really embrace them. Hopefully, at some point in time, we can get those guys back here.”