MESA, Ariz. (AP) — It appears as though 2015 is shaping up to be quite a year for Josh Phegley.
His wife, Jessica, is due to give birth to the couple’s first child any day now. And Phegley figures to get a decent amount of playing time at catcher as the season moves forward for the Oakland A’s.
Phegley came to Oakland along with shortstop Marcus Semien as part of a December trade that sent pitcher Jeff Samardzija to the Chicago White Sox.
Stephen Vogt is listed as the Athletics’ No. 1 catcher, but he is returning to health after foot surgery and likely will be limited for a while. He played a career-high 84 games last year, so that should leave even more opportunity for Phegley.
Vogt hits left-handed, Phegley right-handed.
“Things have been going well so far,” Phegley said Saturday. “I have really enjoyed it, getting to know my teammates. I think we are all excited for the fans to see us in game action and what kind of talent we have.”
The A’s are undergoing a remodeling project at catcher and many of their other positions. Catchers Derek Norris (San Diego) and John Jaso (Tampa Bay) were traded in the offseason.
The 27-year-old Phegley played 76 games in the majors over the last two years. He said he was surprised at first to hear his name come up in the trade discussions by the White Sox.
“I had heard about possibility of Semien going somewhere, but to have my name thrown in there was kind of eye-opening,” he said.
It turned out to be a good surprise.
“I’m not a guy who ever goes into a camp thinking he has the job locked up,” Phegley said. “You have to show and prove what you can do, play as hard as you can. I have a good opportunity here.”
In Saturday’s four-inning intrasquad game, he started and played two innings. He flied out in his lone at-bat.
Phegley has the reputation of being a good defender, but is still trying to find his way with the bat. In the minor leagues, he threw out 47 percent of baserunners trying to steal, and is 15 for 51 (29 percent) at the major league level.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin, a former major league catcher, is closely watching what Phegley can do.
“I think we’re all waiting for the start of the games and his receiving will come more into play,” Melvin said. “His percentage is good. He has a quick arm, good strength and the potential for some power.”
Phegley has seven homers, 29 RBIs and a .207 average in the majors.
NOTES: Non-roster INF Max Muncy had a strong showing in the intrasquad game. He drove in the only run with a single and then made a diving stop of a shot down the third-base line and almost threw out non-roster man Joey Wendle. ... Melvin and the team tried to implement some of the measures suggested to speed up MLB games, such as having hitters keeping one foot in the batter’s box in between pitches and not backing out. ... RHP R.J. Alvarez’s fastball had more than enough velocity, but he had difficulty controlling it early in his outing. He walked a pair of batters, but came back to strike out two. ... Ambidextrous reliever Pat Venditte warmed up left-handed before the last inning. When the batter stepped in, the non-roster pitcher turned around and threw right-handed.