OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Already told he would be cut, catcher Stephen Vogt asked the Oakland Athletics to announce his departure Thursday rather than be a distraction before a game against Houston the previous night.
That was typical for team-first Vogt, designated for assignment as the struggling A’s transition toward youth and give Bruce Maxwell a shot behind the plate.
Rookie infielder Matt Chapman went on the 10-day disabled list with an infection in his left knee that kept him out of three straight games. General manager David Forst said Chapman was hospitalized Wednesday night to receive an intravenous antibiotic for his knee cellulitis, reports were good Thursday and he should be released Friday. Forst expects Chapman to come off the DL as soon as he is eligible.
Yet another busy day of moving parts for the low-budget A’s, who fired pitching coach Curt Young last week.
“It was just one of those things I felt coming for a little while, but obviously it’s never easy. It’s something I understand, don’t like, but I understand how the game works,” Vogt said. “And yeah, it was definitely news that hit me very hard, hit all of a sudden, very, very hard. This is a place that we love. This is a place that we grew up together, watched our family grow, a place where we had a lot of success.”
Vogt hit .217 with four home runs and 20 RBIs in 54 games this season with 36 starts at catcher and seven as the designated hitter.
A’s closer Sean Doolittle posted a photo of Vogt on Twitter before Oakland’s series finale against the Astros, and wrote, “love you @SVogt1229. thank you for everything.”
A two-time AL All-Star, Vogt entered as a pinch hitter during Wednesday night’s 5-1 defeat and, with the bench short, played left field for the first time since July 2, 2014, at Detroit. He had several balls immediately hit his way — and manager Bob Melvin said afterward Vogt just wanted to play.
“This was really hard, and entirely because of who Stephen is,” Forst said. “No one exemplifies the spirit of those playoff teams more than Stephen and it’s hard to think of anyone who’s been a better member of our community.”
A rookie and playoff first-timer in October 2013, Vogt delivered a game-ending hit against Detroit in the best-of-five division series. He had left the Tampa Bay organization for the Bay Area on April 5 that season, traded back home to his native California, only a couple of hours from where he grew up and still lived in Visalia.
“For a guy that had to fight so hard to get to the big leagues, and the next thing you know he’s hitting a walk-off in a playoff series, and then into a leadership role, two-time All-Star for a guy who was a career minor leaguer for a while,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Once he got here he took advantage of the opportunity to be at the big leagues as well as anybody I’ve ever seen. He definitely made an impact here, not only with us in the clubhouse, but the media, the fans, everybody.”
Vogt was a minor league journeyman who made it to the major leagues at last at age 28. He needed 33 at-bats to finally get his first major league hit, a home run against St. Louis’ Joe Kelly on June 28, ’13. Rewind to that spring, and Vogt spent six days in Durham, North Carolina, wondering about his baseball future. He didn’t make the Rays’ opening-day roster and figured to start the season there at Triple-A. Then, Oakland acquired him.
Oakland remains responsible for the rest of Vogt’s $2,965,000 salary, and a team that signs him would pay the prorated share of the $535,000 minimum. Forst declined to specify the interest or trade talks he has had regarding the 32-year-old.
“I couldn’t get out of my own way and struggled with the throwing and the hitting issue,” said Vogt, who wasn’t prepared to say whether he would have the chance to accept a minor league assignment if he fails to clear waivers.
“I’m a baseball player. I’m really good. The person that’s showed at times the last couple months is not who I am, it’s not who I’ve been,” he said.
Also Thursday, the A’s recalled Maxwell and first baseman/outfielder Matt Olson from Triple-A Nashville.
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