A’s Eric Chavez gets first workout at first base
PHOENIX (AP) – Eric Chavez is trying to get comfortable at a new position for the Oakland Athletics.
Chavez got his first workout Tuesday at first base during Oakland’s practice at Phoenix Muni.
Chavez won six Gold Gloves at third base for the A’s. He’s been limited by injuries during the past three seasons, but Oakland wants to try to keep his bat in the lineup this year.
“He needs to hit,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “He needs to prove he’s healthy and swinging the bat well.”
Chavez has been hitting against a pitching machine the past month or so at his home in nearby Paradise Valley and faced live pitching for the first time.
“My biggest concern is my offense,” Chavez said. “I want to be productive offensively. I’m ready to see live pitching.”
He may get his chance to hit against A’s Opening Day starter Ben Sheets, who will either throw a simulated-type game or batting practice in the next couple of days.
Chavez worked with A’s infield coach Mike Gallegos, who told him to relax.
“It’s just taking ground balls with a bigger glove,” Chavez said. “It’s getting better.”
The bigger glove is a little annoying, but Chavez figures he’ll get used to it.
“It’s going to get comfortable,” Chavez said. “I’m getting two gloves ready in case one of them fails me.”
Chavez also credited Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington, a former infield coach in Oakland, for much of his infield awareness.
“It really does go back to Wash, who told me if you get your feet ready you can play anywhere in the infield,” Chavez said. “Your feet gets you in line to throw.”
The position change should relieve some of the strain on his weakened shoulder, though he’ll take grounders at third base and at shortstop. He’s even got an outfield glove in tow just in case.
“I want to give them options,” Chavez said. “I think it’s great. I’ve been excited about it the whole winter. It’s really taken a lot off my mind. It’s refreshing.”
Chavez said he’ll be leaning on longtime teammate Mark Ellis, the A’s second baseman, for help.
“Mark and I have always communicated well,” he said. “A lot of it will be ‘Am I playing deep enough? Is this normal? Is this double play depth?’ We’ll get things right.”
Said Ellis: “That’s Chavey; he’s a good athlete. He can play anywhere … except second base. He’s not that good.”