The Athletics have called up catcher/first baseman/outfielder Matt McBride in order to prevent the 30-year-old from signing with a club in Japan, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. McBride received an offer from the Yokohama DeNa BayStars of Nippon Professional Baseball, Slusser reports, and his contract contains a clause that would’ve allowed him to opt out and pursue the deal. Rather than allow the versatile McBride to leave the organization, Oakland added him to its 25-man and 40-man roster (Felix Doubront was transferred to the 60-day DL). “I’m happy to be here,” McBride told Slusser following the promotion. “I knew it would be one or the other, and I think everyone wants to get the chance to play in the big leagues.” McBride does have some Major League experience, having spent parts of three seasons with the Rockies. In 158 plate appearances in the Majors, he’s batted .199/.228/.305. The A’s, then, will hope that his production can more closely resemble his lifetime .315/.351/.527 line at the Triple-A level (1418 PAs).
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- Slusser also writes that lefty Sean Manaea has an “excellent shot” to stick in the Athletics’ rotation for the long haul if he can approach his numbers from Triple-A. The top prospect, acquired in last summer’s Ben Zobrist trade, could have an audition window of several weeks to impress the front office, as right-hander Henderson Alvarez still figures to be sidelined until mid-May. Should Manaea falter in his initial taste of the Majors, right-hander Jesse Hahn could re-emerge from Nashville, though he’s currently dealing with a blister that prevented him from getting the call on Friday. As Slusser notes, a strong early impression from Manaea will lead to a difficult decision for Oakland, who could have Manaea, Alvarez, Hahn, Sonny Gray, Rich Hill, Kendall Graveman and Chris Bassitt all in the rotation picture. And, for those looking for a bit of a scouting report on the exciting young lefty, Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America has posted just that, in addition to his thoughts on what to expect from Manaea in the Majors.
- Mike Zunino spoke with Larry Stone of the Seattle Times about the mechanical adjustments he’s made to his swing and the more relaxed mental approach he’s been able to adopt with the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate this season. Triple-A hitting coach Scott Brosius and manager Pat Listach each weighed in on Zunino’s hot start as well, noting that he’s not only more mechanically sound but also showing greater strike-zone recognition, neglecting to chase sliders on the outer edge of the plate and high fastballs out of the zone. Zunino said to Stone that he doesn’t feel “on edge all the time” like he has in the past while struggling in the Majors, adding that he’s “not chasing base hits” by worrying about the outcome. Zunino has come around on recognizing that hard contact, such as a line drive that turns into an out, isn’t necessarily a bad outcome. Zunino was particularly heartened recently with some success hitting to the opposite field — a component of his game that he freely acknowledged has long been lacking.
- Angels lefty C.J. Wilson is now targeting a mid-June return, as Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register writes. The 35-year-old southpaw is slated for a bullpen session on May 9 and a simulated game on May 18, each of which would precede a minor league rehab assignment that is currently scheduled to begin on May 23. “It feels like it’s taking forever,” Wilson said. “I want to pitch. I always want to pitch. When you have a light at the end of the tunnel, it feels a little longer as opposed to ’I’m not going to pitch till next year.'” Wilson added that he’s experimenting with a new arm slot in an effort to maintain his health.
- Another Angels lefty, Andrew Heaney, hasn’t received as optimistic news as Wilson. As MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets, the team said today that Heaney’s recovery “has slowed,” and the lefty will seek an “additional opinion” on his forearm strain. The club didn’t make any further comment on his health, but it’s now been several weeks since Heaney has thrown, and the continued uncertainty surrounding his recovery (or lack thereof) is discouraging for the team and for Angels fans.