OAKLAND — Kendrys Morales got to the Oakland Coliseum a bit before noon on Thursday, but, despite what manager Bob Melvin had hoped, wasn’t able to get into the A’s 4-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Opening Day, Part Deux.
“To try and rush him in a game today is just a little too much,” Melvin said before the A’s first regular-season game since returning from Japan. “Shoot, sometimes it takes you half an hour to get your uniform fitted, let alone take batting practice and go in the cage and so forth.”
After a Wednesday trade, Morales, a .268 career hitter with 211 home runs in 12 Major League seasons, will start and play first base in Friday’s Opening Night for the A’s, who are looking for left-handed power during the absence of Gold Glover Matt Olson, whose broken hamate bone will have him out another four to five weeks.
After a career that’s taken him from Anaheim to Seattle to Minnesota and Kansas City, and most recently to Toronto, the switch-hitting Morales had settled down north of the border over the last two seasons.
“It’s obviously a little difficult, but it’s part of the game,” Morales said in the clubhouse after the game, through interpreter Fernando Alcala. “It’s just something I’ll have to deal with.”
Having spent the first six seasons of his professional career with the Angels, Morales has spent his fair share of time at the Coliseum. Other than parks he’s called home, Oakland is where he’s had his third-most career plate appearances. His results haven’t been great, though: He’s hit .236 in 182 at-bats, with eight home runs in 48 games.
He did, however, see what the A’s did last season, winning 97 games while having to start 14 different pitchers due to injury.
“It’s obviously a very talented team, a lot of young talent here,” Morales said. “I’m obviously happy to be here, and I’m looking to support what the club is doing.”
While last season, Morales got 388 of his 471 plate appearances as a designated hitter, he will primarily be a first bsaseman with Oakland, rotating into a platoon that consists of him, switch-hitter Jurickson Profar and right-handed hitting Mark Canha. It’s easy to see Morales taking over the bulk of that platoon, while Profar moves over to his natural second base spot. That pushes Chad Pinder — who started at second on Thursday, while Profar started at first — into a utility role, and pushed out Franklin Barreto.
While Morales’ offensive numbers have not been great in Oakland, the vast foul ground should be a boon.
“I’m always excited,” Morales said. “In the offseason, I have long workout to get ready, not to be a designated hitter, but to play in the field defensively, so I’m looking forward to the opportunities presented here.”
“It was good to let him talk to some of his teammates, and he’s been around some, so he knows some guys,” Melvin said. “I think he’s excited about the opportunity to come in and win.”