MESA, Ariz. — Mark Ellis sprang out of the Oakland clubhouse just as he did during his rookie season.
Ellis, fifth among second basemen in career fielding percentage at .991, returned to the Athletics as a special instructor on Monday, a little more than a year after ending a successful 12-year big league career.
A’s manager Bob Melvin said Ellis will spend week assisting third-base coach Ron Washington, generally regarded as one of the top infield coaches in baseball.
“He’s a good resource to have,” Melvin said. “Between him and Wash, that’s as good a sounding board as you can get.”
Ellis spent the year away from the game with his family in Florida, with the exception of a week he spent in the instructional league, where he worked with fellow Florida product Richie Martin.
“He’s freakishly athletic,” Ellis said. “We can fine tune the fundamentals. I don’t know a lot about the rest of them.”
He also will also work with prospect Joey Wendle, who has been referred to as ‘Mark Ellis 2.0.’
Ellis came to Oakland in a trade with the Kansas City Royals and spent 8½ years with the A’s. He finished eighth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2002 and twice led AL second basemen in fielding percentage. He has five of the top 32 season percentages at that position, with a best of .997 in 2006.
“It feels good to get back on the field,” Ellis said. “It’s great to put a uniform again, especially this one.”
Ellis, who has played all four infield positions, had a .262 career batting average with 105 homers, 1,343 hits and 550 RBIs.
“I hope he wants to expand his role down the road,” Melvin said. “Once he gets the itch, this is a perfect segue.”
Ellis remains open to future coaching gigs.
“I like being at home with my family,” Ellis said. “I’ll enjoy this week and whatever comes of it, we’ll see.”
He is reunited this week with former A’s teammates Mark Kotsay and Scott Hatteberg. Kotsay is Melvin’s bench coach and Hatteberg is a special instructor.
“It brings back memories,” Ellis said. “It’s good to be around the guys.”