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John Jaso was still around the A’s clubhouse last year after being sidelined by a season-ending concussion, but he couldn’t help but feel isolated.
He’s back now, at full strength, and while there’s speculation about how the catcher fits into the A’s plans this season, Jaso is eager just to get back on the field. Oakland’s pitchers and catchers report Friday and work out for the first time Saturday.
“I feel antsy just more for my sake to get back into baseball,” Jaso said. “It was tough going to the field every day knowing you’re that guy that’s injured. Everyone else is suiting up to go play, and there you are, that guy staying inside the training room. That’s not a good feeling.”
The A’s view the left-handed hitting Jaso as a good designated hitter candidate, so he could see lots of DH at-bats against opposing right-handers. Jaso hit .271 with three homers and 21 RBI in 70 games last season. His 38 walks contributed to a team-high.387 on-base percentage by late July, when he was hit in the mask by foul tips in back-to-back games and suffered a concussion that would have lingering effects.
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A’s manager Bob Melvin reiterated during Saturday’s FanFest how he likes to rotate some of his regulars through the DH spot to give them a half-day off. Melvin also doesn’t want to limit Jaso. He envisions him as a legitimate option behind the plate, and Jaso said he still considers himself a catcher first and foremost.
“If somebody was looking to get a DH, they’re not really looking to get John Jaso, you know?” he said with a chuckle. “They’re looking to get somebody that’s gonna hit 25 or 30 (homers). But I don’t really care. As long as I’m on the 25-man roster, that’s all that really matters.”
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Derek Norris and Stephen Vogt -- who like Jaso, hits left-handed -- platooned at catcher last season after Jaso’s injury, and both return this year. With Jaso an option to DH, the A’s could very well keep all three catchers on their 25-man roster, particularly if they were to go with just four outfielders.