Chap­man on mend, but will miss Cac­tus opener

Third base­man had off­sea­son surg­eries on thumb, shoul­der

The Mercury News - - Sports - By Martin Gal­le­gos mgal­le­[email protected]­yare­anews­group.com

MESA, ARIZ. >> The A’s are just over a week away from Cac­tus League ac­tion, a slate of spring train­ing games which they will be­gin with­out Gold Glove-win­ning third base­man Matt Chap­man in the lineup.

Com­ing off an off­sea­son that fea­tured two surg­eries, a pro­ce­dure in Oc­to­ber to re­move the sesamoid bone in his right thumb and an­other in De­cem­ber to al­le­vi­ate pain in the AC joint of his left shoul­der, Chap­man re­ported to Ho­hokam Sta­dium Sun­day ap­pear­ing free of phys­i­cal im­ped­i­ments as he in­ter­acted with team­mates.

The A’s ini­tially an­nounced Chap­man was ex­pected to be­gin swing­ing a bat six weeks af­ter the Dec. 14 surgery, but the shoul­der still has some strength and con­di­tion­ing work to un­dergo in or­der to be up to par.

“I’ve been kind of putting my­self back to­gether this off­sea­son. Not ex­actly how you draw it up,” Chap­man said. “You’d prob­a­bly rather have some more down­time and time to train, but I’ve been work­ing as much as I can to stay in shape and build my up­per body strength. I know I’ll be ready by the sea­son.”

Chap­man’s re­turn won’t come Feb. 21 when the club opens up against the Mariners,

but he ex­pects to be play­ing in games soon af­ter. Hav­ing al­ready been tak­ing ground balls in the in­field for weeks, Chap­man is now go­ing through hit­ting pro­gres­sions and able to do most work­outs in the gym. The next step is to build the strength up to the point where he could po­ten­tially take part in bat­ting prac­tice next week.

“The way it’s look­ing now, I won’t be too far be­hind ev­ery­one else,” Chap­man said.

The shoul­der is­sue was a

nag­ging prob­lem for Chap­man through­out last sea­son which makes his postAll-Star break tear of hit­ting .309 with 14 home runs and a .961 OPS as he led all of base­ball with 25 dou­bles, 52 runs scored and 42 ex­tra­base hits in the se­cond half all the more im­pres­sive.

Had Chap­man un­der­gone the shoul­der surgery around the same time as the thumb op­er­a­tion, he’d prob­a­bly be a full go by now. But the Gold Glove third base­man did not re­veal the dis­com­fort to the club un­til later in the off­sea­son, which ad­mit­tedly was a mis­take.

“In a per­fect world, I would have said some­thing right af­ter the sea­son ended,”

Chap­man said. “My shoul­der felt sore, but I just fig­ured it was from the long sea­son and it would get bet­ter.”

Much like Chap­man is on the radar for some as a dark­horse MVP can­di­date, the A’s are on the radars of the rest of the base­ball world com­ing off a 97-win sea­son and their first play­off ap­pear­ance since 2014. Prov­ing they can hang with the best in 2018, Chap­man said it’s now time to take things a step fur­ther.

“I’m ex­cited to pick up where we left off and just keep get­ting bet­ter,” he said. “We’ve got a good core group of guys and we keep bring­ing in good play­ers. Now peo­ple know we can play.”

ANDA CHU — STAFF

The A’s Matt Chap­man hit .309 af­ter the All-Star break.

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