OAKLAND – Outfielder Michael Choice arrived in the A’s clubhouse about 90 minutes before game time Sunday, shaking hands and preparing for his first taste of the major leagues.
Choice, the A’s 2010 first round pick and one of Oakland’s most highly touted prospects, was among four call-ups the team made on the first day rosters can expand. Second baseman Jemile Weeks, infielder Andy Parrino and reliever Pedro Figueroa also were promoted from Triple-A Sacramento.
Choice, a 23-year-old seen as a power-hitting threat with speed when he was drafted out of the University of Texas-Arlington, has worked to cut down his strikeouts during three-plus minor league seasons. He hit .302 this season for the River Cats with 14 home runs, and his 89 RBI ranked second in the Pacific Coast League.
A’s manager Bob Melvin did not guarantee how much any of the call-ups will play but said that each one serves a purpose as Oakland tries to chase down Texas in the American League West. Melvin said the right-handed hitting Choice is a good option against left-handers.
Though Choice played mainly center field in the minors, Melvin sees him getting time in the corner spots with Coco Crisp entrenched in center.
Choice had a big smile on his face when he walked into the A’s clubhouse, immediately getting a hug from pitcher Dan Straily.
“Recently I feel like I’ve been swinging the bat well,” Choice said. “I got into a little groove lately where I’m able to see pitches and get deeper into counts. Overall, I feel good.”
Grady Fuson, a special assistant to A’s general manager Billy Beane, said Choice has put together his best overall minor league season.
“He stayed healthy, he hit the ball out. He’s hitting doubles,” Fuson said. “Long-range, do I think he’s got more than (14) homers in him? Yeah.”
The switch-hitting Weeks burst on the scene as a rookie in 2011, and going into the 2012 season he was viewed as the centerpiece of Oakland’s team, particularly from a marketing standpoint. But the second baseman endured a bad sophomore slump, hitting .221 and being demoted to the minors while the A’s went on their late-season run to the division title.
“I kind of feel like I missed out on it a little bit last season,” Weeks said. “To come back this year is refreshing.”
Melvin said Weeks provides versatility with his speed and switch-hititng abilitly. It figures he will be Melvin’s first option off the bench as a pinch runner. Parrino played very good defensively for Sacramento and Melvin sees him as a “true shortstop” who can help out in the outfield as well.
Figueroa is a hard-throwing lefty who has served several stints with Oakland over the past couple of seasons.
Both Melvin and right fielder Josh Reddick expressed optimism that Reddick’s sprained right wrist might be recovered enough for him ot return Sept. 10 when he’s eligible to come off the D.L.