Oakland Athletics: Can Michael Choice Play His Way Into More Prominent Role?
— Oakland Athletics (@Athletics) September 2, 2013
Choice, who hit .302 with 14 home runs and 29 doubles for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats, is batting ninth and DH’ing as the Athletics open up a three-game series with the Texas Rangers. It’s a big day for Choice who grew up in Arlington and played baseball at the University of Texas.
It’s rather unusual for a September call-up to come up and immediately be inserted into the starting lineup. Especially on a team that is not only battling for the playoffs but is actually playing the team they are chasing.
Then again, the Athletics aren’t your typical playoff contender. The team thrives on depth and the ability to interchange the 25th man on the roster with the cleanup hitter, or just about. On Sunday, Yoenis Cespedes occupied the fifth spot in the lineup, and today rookie Rule-5 pick Nate Frieman fills the spot.
Oakland’s lineup against lefties is very thin, as illustrated by manager Bob Melvin‘s use of Alberto Callaspo (almost impossible to strike out, but not exactly powerful) and underachieving veterans like Seth Smith and Chris Young in the DH role. With Josh Reddick shelved, there is a very real opportunity for Choice to force his way into the lineup against lefties.
For his part, Choice has hit over .300 against both lefties and righties in Triple-A.Who knows what Choice, who launched 30 home runs in his first full season as a professional, will do in his MLB debut. In some ways, though, the arrival of the heralded Choice is reminiscent of the promotion of another former first rounder who is actually still with the team.
In September of 2007, the team finally pulled up the top prospect who had been tearing up the minor leagues and whose promotion had been clamored about for months. His name was Daric Barton, and on his debut the first baseman went 2-for-3 with a double, a run and two walks.
That’s quite the debut and certainly more than anyone is hoping or expecting from Choice. However, that performance launched Barton in a prominent role with the club, as he remained in the lineup for the rest of the month.
With Reddick out and Smith and Young floundering, Choice has the chance to write his name into the lineup quite a bit this month.