Elise Amendola/AP PhotoFormer Tampa Bay Ray and new Oakland Athletic Ben Zobrist will never forget when he saw an opossum on the field at the Oakland Coliseum last August.

Elise Amendola/AP PhotoFormer Tampa Bay Ray and new Oakland Athletic Ben Zobrist will never forget when he saw an opossum on the field at the Oakland Coliseum last August.

New A's infielder Zobrist knows quirks of new home ballpark

OAKLAND — Ben Zobrist needs few reminders of the quirks that come with playing in the Oakland Coliseum, his new home.

In the 10th inning of a loss last August playing for the Rays, a small opossum scurried alongside the Tampa Bay left fielder and he caught glimpse of the critter out of the corner of his eye.

“Apparently that was a good omen for the A's, and not so much for us,” he said with a chuckle Monday.

Zobrist might be in for far more sightings of his new furry friend after the A's acquired the two-time All-Star infielder along with shortstop Yunel Escobar on Saturday to fill out the middle of their infield. The A's sent catcher John Jaso and two minor leaguers to the Rays in the trade.

Zobrist combines with Fernando Abad to complete general manager Billy Beane's A-to-Z makeover of the A's spanning the past 14 months.

The 33-year-old Zobrist helped the Rays make the playoffs four of the past seven seasons, including an improbable run to the World Series in 2008. He hit .272 with 10 home runs and 52 RBIs last season, and made starts at second base, shortstop, all three outfield spots and designated hitter.

He will never forget the shock of those opossum eyes staring right at him last summer.

Zobrist noticed the creature on a foul ball by Alberto Callaspo earlier in the 10th inning of the 3-2 defeat on Aug. 4.

“That was a strange moment,” Zobrist said Monday. “I was playing a little bit in the gap so I wasn't paying a lot of attention to the corner over there. I ran a long way for a foul ball and I was over near the bullpen and I saw the ball go into the stands and just kind of out of the corner in my eye there was something in the corner of my eye. I'm like, 'What in the world?' I thought it was maybe a piece of paper. I looked over and there it was, a baby possum just staring right up at me. I stood there just frozen for a second, looking at this thing like, 'Where did you come from?'”

Zobrist, ready to step in at second base, looks forward to maintaining his double-play rhythm with Escobar at shortstop and said that could make for a more seamless transition to his new team.

“Every year there's a little bit of a culture change in every clubhouse. There is a new dynamic and a new culture and chemistry that has to be cultivated from the start of the season every year,” Zobrist said. “It's interesting, it definitely was a little bittersweet. You think a lot about the time we've spent in Tampa Bay. It's been eight years. It's hard to leave behind a lot of friends and relationships there, but at the same time we're thinking ahead and we're looking forward to the new baseball chapter and the new challenge ahead.”

Also Monday, right-hander Jesse Chavez agreed to a $2.15 million, one-year contract that avoided salary arbitration.

Chavez stepped in as a key member of the rotation in 2014 when projected starters Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin were each lost for the year to elbow injuries that required surgery.

Chavez, 31, went 8-8 with a 3.45 ERA with 21 starts and 32 appearances for a career-high 146 innings last year, when he made $775,000.

The team's remaining arbitration-eligible players are Abad, Ryan Cook, Sam Fuld, Craig Gentry, Brett Lawrie, Jarrod Parker, Josh Reddick and Eric Sogard.

A'sBen ZobristMLBOakland A's & MLBOakland Coliseum

Just Posted

A man walks past the main entrance to the Hotel Whitcomb at Eighth and Market streets on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Closing hotels could disconnect hundreds from critical health care services

‘That baseline of humanity and dignity goes a long way’

Dreamforce returned to San Francisco in person this week – but with a tiny sliver of past attendance. (Courtesy Salesforce)
Dreamforce returns with hundreds on hand, down from 170,000 in the past

High hopes for a larger Salesforce conference shriveled during the summer

The remnants of trees burned by the Dixie Fire near Antelope Lake, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. (Christian Monterrosa/The New York Times)
California’s wildfires invisible effect: high carbon dioxide emissions

This summer California fires emitted twice as much CO2 as last year

Latinos are dying at a lower rate than white and Black people in California. However, Latinos have had the sharpest increase in the death rate in the last month, rising from 2.4 deaths per 100,000 people in August to 4 per 100,000 in September. (iStock)
Who’s dying in California from COVID-19?

In recent months, those who are dying are younger

The numbers show nearly 14 percent of San Francisco voters who participated in the Sept. 14 recall election wanted to oust Gov. Gavin Newsom from elected office. (Shutterstock photo)
(Shutterstock photo)
How San Francisco neighborhoods voted in the Newsom recall

Sunset tops the list as the area with the most ‘yes’ votes

Most Read