SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — For the third time in five years, Nick Hundley is starting over. This time, the 35-year-old is part of a catching platoon in Oakland where he’ll be splitting time with Josh Phegley.
It’s not unlike other situations Hundley has been through in his career. He spent the past two seasons behind Buster Posey in San Francisco, was a backup in Colorado and Baltimore prior to that, and split time as a starter over seven years in San Diego.
With so much activity on his resume, Hundley has become accustomed to learning quickly, something that’s come in handy as he tries to find a comfort zone with the Athletics.
“For a guy like him who’s been different places and a veteran guy, it’s easier for him to figure it out on the fly,” manager Bob Melvin said prior to Tuesday’s exhibition game in San Francisco. “Even though it’s been a shortened spring, a guy like him figures it out pretty quickly. I’m not too worried about him learning our staff. He’s caught everybody and understands the nuances. He’s one of those quarterback-type guys.”
Hundley started and had a sacrifice fly in the A’s 4-2 rain-shortened win over the Giants in San Francisco in the exhibition finale for both teams Tuesday. Melvin planned to play Phegley as well, but the game was called after seven innings.
Aaron Brooks strengthened his grip on the No. 5 spot in the A’s rotation. Brooks allowed one run over 5 1/3 innings, striking out five and walking two.
Oakland was left to scramble for a catcher after losing Jonathan Lucroy in free agency.
Melvin repeatedly credited Lucroy with playing a key role in the development of Oakland’s young pitchers and helping the staff stay on course after injuries depleted the rotation last season.
Phegley began his career in Chicago but has spent the past four seasons bouncing back and forth between the A’s and the minor leagues. Phegley has a career .232 batting average with 22 home runs and 98 RBIs.
Hundley signed with Oakland in February and underwent a crash course in learning the A’s pitchers.
“I appreciate the youth that’s on this team,” Hundley said. “So much energy, it keeps you young. These guys had a really good year last year and are hungry to go out and do it again.”
The A’s have yet to formalize exactly how they plan to split time between the two catchers. Both are right-handed hitters so it won’t necessarily be a platoon based on pitching matchups. Hundley and Phegley also spent the spring working with as many of Oakland’s pitchers as possible.
“We’re still kind of trial and error with that,” Melvin said. “We like both of them. Both of them do a nice job running the game so it might be as simple as the hot hand.”
ROUGH NIGHT FOR SAMARDZIJA
Jeff Samardzija had a tough night in his final outing of the spring, allowing four runs over 3 2/3 innings. Likely to be the Giants fifth starter, Samardzija struck out three, walked one, hit a batter and allowed a two-run home run to Mark Canha.
“Left some balls on the plate and was behind in the count a lot,” Samardzija said. “I had to attack the zone in hitter’s counts which is always a tough spot. They’re a patient team and always have been.”
San Francisco continues to tinker with its pitching staff, acquiring left-handed reliever Williams Jerez from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for right-hander Chris Stratton. Jerez had a 6.00 ERA in 17 relief appearances last season with 15 strikeouts and eight walks in 15 innings. The Giants also optioned left-hander Ty Blach to Triple-A Sacramento.
Athletics: The A’s have an off day Wednesday before resuming Thursday against the Los Angeles Angels at the Coliseum. RHP Mike Fiers (0-1, 15.00 ERA) makes his second start.
Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner pitches the opener Thursday in San Diego. Bumgarner was 1-3 with an 8.27 ERA in six spring starts.