Gelof's hot start a spark for A's: 'I love playing this game'

July 29th, 2023

DENVER -- In belting his second career home run, produced another first as a big leaguer: Wielding the A’s homer hammer.

After receiving the traditional silent treatment that is usually protocol for his first Major League home run on July 22 at the Coliseum, Gelof was unable to hoist the celebratory hammer on that night. After jogging around the bases following his two-run blast in the fifth inning of Friday’s 8-5 win over the Rockies at Coors Field, the A’s No. 3 prospect per MLB Pipeline returned to the visiting dugout and got his hands on the hammer modeled after the one used by Marvel superhero Thor.

"Nobody gave it to me at first," Gelof said. "On my way back after getting the high fives, I finally got it. It was nice to not get the silent treatment for the second one."

Gelof worked a 2-2 count against Rockies reliever Gavin Hollowell before unloading on a fastball and sending it over the wall in left-center. For the A’s, it was more of the same of what they have seen from the rookie second baseman. Since getting called up to the Majors on July 14, Gelof has recorded at least one hit in eight of his first 12 games.

Of Gelof’s first 10 hits in the Major Leagues, seven have gone for extra bases.

"He’s done a great job," A’s manager Mark Kotsay said of Gelof. "There’s a lot of room for growth, but he plays the game hard. The at-bats are competitive. … Overall, since he’s been here, you can tell there’s an intent to take a professional at-bat and get the job done."

Gelof’s homer provided some extra cushion for JP Sears, who fared well in Colorado’s notoriously hitter-friendly confines with five innings of one-run ball, limiting the Rockies to four hits and one walk with five strikeouts.

"That’s something that was talked about beforehand," Sears said of pitching at Coors Field for the first time in his career. "It’s an adjustment, but you can’t think too much about it. Some of the late movement on your pitches might not be there. It’s about just changing your sights and knowing when to be a little more aggressive and less aggressive against guys."

Count Sears among the plethora of A’s players and coaches who have been impressed by the early look at Gelof.

"I’ve enjoyed being around him a lot," Sears said. "He brings a lot of positive attitude. You can tell he’s hungry and wants to work hard. He gets frustrated when he doesn’t have good at-bats, but he goes back up there and makes those adjustments. It’s been really good to see him bring a lot of life to the team. … I’m excited to see how he’ll do the rest of the year."

For his first two weeks in the big leagues, Gelof has looked every bit like the foundational player the A’s believe will help usher in the club’s next era of winning baseball. From his perspective, the 23-year-old is embracing the challenge of making the necessary adjustments when pitchers identify his strengths and weaknesses.

“It’s going great,” Gelof said. “A lot of learning and having fun. Competing against the best players in the world is pretty special. I really want to do this for a long time and I want to win. … I still get a little nervous because I love playing this game. I’m just going to keep trying to have a blast out there and bring some energy.”

Those energetic vibes seemed to surge through the A’s offense. A 14-hit outburst featured two-hit efforts by six different batters, including Ramón Laureano, who playfully received the silent treatment from his teammates after launching a solo shot in the ninth for his first home run since May 17.

“Offensively, we followed the game plan today,” Kotsay said. “This park can get you out of the right approach. From the onset, we stayed through the middle and to the other side of the field and you saw the results. It was a good offensive day.”