Oakland Athletics Recap: Hill Struggles with Command, Chapman Shows Power Bat

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96. Final. 6. 108. 2

The Oakland Athletics’ spring training game on Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies almost ended early due to a fire alarm sounding at Salt River Fields after the conclusion of the eighth inning. Even though the majority of the fans evacuated, the A’s and Rockies completed the last inning of the game. In the end, Colorado beat Oakland 6-2. The Athletics are now 6-6 with two tie games this spring.

Highlights

The Oakland Athletics had Rich Hill on the bump to start the game on Tuesday. Many were hoping that he would be able to regain his command over the ball during his third outing in March. However, he did just the opposite. During Tuesday’s game, Hill went four innings and gave up five earned runs on just three hits. He also walked six batters. In his three starts this spring, Hill has walked a total of 12 players over just 7.2 innings pitched.

Additionally, the A’s once again could not capitalize with men on base. Oakland was able to get seven hits over the course of the game, the same amount as the Rockies, but the A’s could not drive home any of their teammates. This was an issue that the Athletics faced last year from time to time. Let’s hope they can work out these kinks before the regular season begins.

Thankfully, Oakland’s defense was looking solid today. Not a single error was committed and each player fielded their respected position quite well. Sam Fuld completed a diving catch in right field that resulted in a double play while prospect Matt Chapman, who drove in the A’s two runs of the game, made a great grab at third base on a chopper hit to his left.

The Now

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The Oakland Athletics are known for their platoons and it is not uncommon for the A’s to have a different lineup on a daily basis. However, in order to achieve this, some players have to be able to field at numerous positions. It seems as though Oakland is already taking advantage of their versatile players and testing them out in various roles this spring. For one, designated hitter Billy Butler started Tuesday’s game at first base. In 2015, Butler only started seven games at first. However, with Coco Crisp and Mark Canha expected to bat in the DH spot from time to time, the A’s need to consider other ways to get Butler in the lineup should he be batting well.  

Speaking of Butler batting well, he has actually been great offensively this spring! Butler has played in six games and over those 12 at-bats, he has four hits, one run and has walked four times. Right now, Butler is batting .333 with a .500 OBP and a .917 OPS. If he can roll this offensive success over into the regular season, Butler might actually become that power-hitting DH the Athletics were looking for last year.

The Future

During Tuesday’s game, Chapman proved once again why he has not yet been sent to minor league camp. Besides playing well at third base, Chapman has also demonstrated a powerful bat this spring. During the eight games he has had the opportunity to play in this March, Chapman has a .267/.294/.667 slash line with a .961 OPS. He also has two homers, four RBI, and only one strikeout.

Chapman has clearly impressed the Oakland Athletics this spring. Manager Bob Melvin told the press on Tuesday that Chapman has certainly earned all of the at-bats he has received during these exhibition games. Because of Chapman’s power bat in conjunction with his quality fielding skills, it would not be surprising to see Chapman at the O.co Coliseum at some point this upcoming season.

Next: A's 2016 Preview: Starter Sonny Gray

The Oakland Athletics have Wednesday off, but will play the Seattle Mariners at Hohokam Park at 1:05 PT on Thursday. A’s starter Kendall Graveman will take the mound against Mariners’ lefty James Paxton.

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