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After mother's death, Piscotty returns to cheers

Outfielder receives loud ovation, then singles against Astros
MLB.com @JaneMLB

OAKLAND -- There's a certain comfort and solace in routine. The A's hope they can offer one of their own just that, along with an abundance of support during a most difficult time.

After taking a day to be with his family following the death of his mother, Gretchen, A's outfielder Stephen Piscotty returned to Oakland Coliseum prior to Tuesday's 4-2 loss to the Astros yearning to play.

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OAKLAND -- There's a certain comfort and solace in routine. The A's hope they can offer one of their own just that, along with an abundance of support during a most difficult time.

After taking a day to be with his family following the death of his mother, Gretchen, A's outfielder Stephen Piscotty returned to Oakland Coliseum prior to Tuesday's 4-2 loss to the Astros yearning to play.

View Full Game Coverage

Manager Bob Melvin immediately obliged.

"I talked to him about it, and I gave him the option, and he wanted to play," Melvin said. "So we had a little conversation in the office. I knew coming into today that was what he wanted to do as of yesterday, but today, he definitely wants to be in the lineup, around his teammates."

Gretchen Piscotty died Sunday evening surrounded by her family just a year after being diagnosed with ALS. She was 55, survived by her husband, Michael, and three sons, Stephen, Nick and Austin.

On Tuesday, Stephen's supporting cast extended beyond the clubhouse, emotions running rampant within the confines of a stadium that morphed into a sanctuary. Piscotty stepped to the plate in the second inning for his first at-bat, overwhelmed by applause from fans, teammates and members of the Astros.

The outfielder tapped his heart in appreciation. Then, he singled.

"I was really happy for him," A's shortstop Marcus Semien said. "It was a great moment for him and his family, his mom watching down on him on that at-bat right there."

"If I have to give up one all year," Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr. said, "I'll be OK with that one."

Moments before, as Piscotty approached the plate, McCullers stepped off the mound as a simple yet strongly sympathetic gesture.

"I feel for him," McCullers said. "I feel for his family. Everything I've heard, he's an awesome guy. He's a great player, and I just wanted him to have some time. I know this game in general can be emotional, and I can only imagine what he was going through today. So I wanted to give him some time to be able to come up and have the fans recognize him. I just wanted that moment to be his."

The moment transcended the game itself.

"That was great," Melvin said. "Our fans know. They gave him a great reception, and I know it probably made him feel good. And to get a hit the first time up is what you're hoping for. Now, it's just about moving on for him. He wants to play."

At the conclusion of the second inning, Piscotty's father, Michael, was seen on the videoboard, offering thanks for the outpouring of support that's engulfed his family, adding, "That a boy, Stephen, on that hit."

Piscotty, who was not yet ready to address the media, is expected to go on the bereavement list as soon as Friday, when Oakland opens a three-game series at Yankee Stadium .

"He knows he's going to have a lot of support from the guys today, and sometimes, just actually getting on the field and concentrating on what you do is maybe a little bit of a release from what he's going through," Melvin said. "He's been through a lot, and I think he feels good about being around his teammates today and in the lineup."

Melvin will wait to see how Piscotty responds before making a decision on his status for Wednesday's series finale against the Astros.

"If he feels good and wants to play again tomorrow, then he'll be in there," Melvin said, "but I'm not going to commit to anything right now."

The A's are matching up to $50,000 of memorial contributions made to the ALS Therapy Development Institute via youcaring.com/piscotty. Cubs pitchers Jon Lester and Yu Darvish, each of whom gave $10,000 to the cause, are among those who have made donations.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.

Oakland Athletics, Stephen Piscotty