For a team hoping to play deep into the postseason, the worst case scenario hit the A’s on Saturday.
Oakland has announced that one of its best players, two-time platinum glove winner Matt Chapman, will miss the rest of the season after surgery on his right hip on Monday.
“It’s difficult,” said manager Bob Melvin, who described Chapman as “devastated” by the news. “It’s hard for him, it’s hard for us. … I think we’re all burning up a bit right now and we want to carry the torch for him, keep winning, keep doing good things.”
Chapman met with renowned hip specialist Dr. Marc Philippon in Vail, Colorado on Friday. Philippon has had great success with hip surgeries, with most athletes returning to full strength, including Oakland outfielder Mark Canha. Philippon also repaired Buster Posey̵
Chapman was hitting .232 with 10 homers and 25 RBI in 37 games, but hit .120 with 17 strikeouts in his last eight games after starting with a .303 mark with seven home runs and 18 RBI from August 7-23. He was 0 of 11 with 10 strikeouts in the San Diego series last weekend before leaving the game after the fourth inning when he felt uncomfortable in his hip while playing on a grounder.
Oakland played a doubleheader in Houston on August 29 and then the team was out for five days, including two in quarantine, after a positive coronavirus test on the team, before resuming the season against the Padres on September 4.
As are currently leading the AL West for seven games, in Saturday’s doubleheader in Texas.
“That pillow is useful because there will be no panic if they enter a small slide,” said an AL scout. “It’s a period of adjustment, but this team will take less time than other teams, because they are so used to moving the boys. Bob Melvin can do it: he is a manager who knows how to solve problems.
“It will be a big pain, but they have a fragmented team that always seems to come together and play hard and find a way to win. It’s a big blow, but if someone can handle it, they can.”
The team recalled outfielder Seth Brown from the cab team with Chapman going to the IL. With Chapman out, the As are likely to use Tommy La Stella, Vimael Machin and Chad Pinder on third base. Sheldon Neuse, who is at the team’s alternate site in San Jose, may also be a consideration at some point, but Melvin said the team is comfortable with the current roster options.
“They will find a way to fix it somehow,” said another AL scout. “They are always resistant.”
Chapman, 27, was an All-Star last season, and has put up an 8.3 WAR for the past two years. Since arriving in mid-June 2017, he has led the majors in saved defensive runs, with 82, according to Fangraphs, six more of Angels’ shortstop Andrelton Simmons and 32 more than the next third baseman on the list, the former high school. Chapman teammate, Nolan Arenado of the Rockies.
“This stings a little, but we have to rally around,” Melvin said. “You just have to pass.”
Susan Slusser is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @susanslusser