Though neither player has a very good shot at making the 25-man roster when the Athletics open up the regular season, outfielders Michael Choice and Shane Peterson have the potential to leave a lasting impression if their early performances are any indication.
Choice, a 23-year-old who reached Double-A for the first time last year, is hitting .550 in the eight games in which he has appeared. Of his 11 hits, four have gone for extra-bases.
Peterson, a 25-year-old who posted a .970 OPS between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento last year, is hitting .429 in his nine games. Of his nine hits, five are doubles and one is a home run.
Choice is unlikely to make the cut simply because he has yet to reach Triple-A, and the jump from Double-A to the Majors is cavernous. With the A’s outfield already packed between Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, and Chris Young, there isn’t much room for Peterson. He could play first base, but the similarly left-handed Brandon Moss, who hit .291 with 21 home runs last year, is already slated at the position. At designated hitter, the left-handed Smith is expected to get the lion’s share of at-bats.
The game of baseball is very unpredictable, so at the very least, both players are setting themselves up for potential promotions in the event of an injury or trade.
Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.
Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.
Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.
On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.