By Morris Phillips
OAKLAND–Ken Waldichuk’s like a number of his Oakland teammates: his time is now whether he’s ready or not ready to shine.
After seven starts last season and Sunday’s rough outing against the Giants, Waldichuk appears to have a spot in the A’s starting rotation despite a 10.54 ERA this spring and five runs allowed in three plus innings work on Sunday.
Good thing manager Mark Kotsay is back for another round after 102 losses in 2022. He’s the unrepentant optimist.
“It wasn’t a successful year by any measure outside of the fact that there were some young players that got their opportunities,” Kotsay said. “Our expectation this year is we’re going to go compete and find ourselves in a position to hopefully add at the break and surprise people.
“There are players to be talked about that can establish themselves and have long careers as Oakland Athletics,” Kotsay said. “I think there’s some excitement.”
If Waldichuk is one of them, he’s going to have to establish pitch command. Hopefully, that’s sooner rather than later.
“I release the ball too far back and that’s when it starts spraying around,” Waldichuk said after surrendering a three-run homer to David Villar and walking four others.
The A’s got some similar love from Giants’ starter Alex Wood, who walked Esteury Ruiz and Seth Brown ahead of Tony Kemp’s game-tying double in the second inning. But the A’s offense went quiet after that; the Giants scored six, unanswered runs to lead 9-3 before the A’s got two solo shots in the ninth to gain respectability on the scoreboard.
The A’s scored just 568 runs in 2022, the second-fewest in the American League. In the off-season their roster needed a jolt. Instead they dealt offensive leader Sean Murphy and his 57 extra-base hits to Atlanta.
That means even more new faces in the A’s everyday lineup in 2023. Shea Langeliers is the headliner, and he should do well. Pablo Reyes and Carlos Perez, who’s hit 11 homers in limited time across four big-league seasons, might struggle. Reyes and Perez homered in the ninth inning Sunday, but they combined to hit just one other home run this spring.
Kemp, Seth Brown and shortstop Nick Allen return but that trio might not be enough to anchor a credible offense. Again, Kotsay preaches optimism.
“We’d love the opportunity to fill this place up,” Kotsay said. “There’s no better place to play in front of a full stadium than the Oakland Coliseum. I know that. I’ve experienced that.”