Chapman on mend, but will miss Cactus opener
Third baseman had offseason surgeries on thumb, shoulder
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.”
The A’s Matt Chapman hit .309 after the All-Star break.