OAKLAND — Jurickson Profar’s tenure with the A’s hasn’t necessarily started off on the right foot, although it’s his arm that’s been more of an issue.
In his first month with his new club, Profar — acquired from the Rangers in a three-team trade in the offseason — was brought in to fill the void left by then free-agent Jed Lowrie. It wasn’t an easy task.
Lowrie posted a .267/.353/.448 slash line and notched his first career All-Star berth with the A’s last season, while committing just four errors at second base in 154 games. Still, with Profar fresh off a career-best 20 homers and .254 average, Oakland believed the then 25-year-old was the right fit to replace, and eventually exceed, Lowrie’s impact.
He then proceeded to double Lowrie’s season error count in the first month alone.
Several of Profar’s eight errors have come on throws, not insignificant given that Profar is relatively inexperienced when it comes to second base. Although he has the athleticism to play all over the infield — and did exactly that for Texas — he’s recorded only 99 games in six Major League seasons at second. Combine that with the pressure of beginning with a new club, and you have a recipe for E-4s galore.
Even Profar’s bat struggled in April. He hit .165/.223/.272, nearly matching his strikeouts (16) with his hit total (17). But like the A’s looked to turn the page on a relatively dismal month, so has Profar — and it’s working.
Since the A’s returned to the Coliseum on May 6, putting a 1-8 road trip firmly in the rearview mirror, Profar’s impact with the club has slid under the radar below moments like Mike Fiers’ second no-hitter Tuesday and Stephen Piscotty’s first-career walk off home run Wednesday.
Profar slugged two key home runs for the A’s in both victories, the second time this year he’s homered in back-to-back games. His most recent shot came in a two-run form in the first inning Wednesday, crashing the homecoming party of former A’s pitcher Sonny Gray.
He also made a superb catch Tuesday to help preserve Fiers’ no-no. That’s the kind of player — offensively and defensively — Oakland is hoping he can consistently be.
“The hitting has been there, he just got off to a slow start,” manager Bob Melvin said. “You combat that with playing a new position on a new team, sometimes you get a little out of sorts. I don’t think he’s doing anything different — right now he’s getting good balls to hit and when he’s getting them he’s putting good swings on them.”
Profar’s defensive miscues landed him a couple of days off, as he settled into his new position, but they weren’t attributed to a lack of work, Melvin explained.
“He’s working every day at 2:15, or whatever time they come out here,” he said. “I think the more you work, the more you insulate in it and the more confident you feel because of it. Again, it’s a new position for him, it’s a different throw, it takes some time to get used to. Recently though we’ve seen some improvement.”
Aiming for an interleague sweep of Cincinnati on Thursday, the A’s will look for Profar to continue his recent offensive barrage. He extended his hitting streak to six games Wednesday and is hitting .308 with two homers and seven RBIs in that time.
* After departing Wednesday’s game in the fifth inning, there’s been some cause for concern for Khris Davis, who sustained a left-hip contusion Sunday after hitting his hip on a railing while making a play in foul territory. He was initially listed as day-to-day, but was replaced by Kendrys Morales after two at-bats.
Davis was not in the starting lineup for Thursday’s game and will be re-evaluated before Friday’s series-opener against the Indians, but Melvin is optimistic that Davis won’t miss much time.
“He was better yesterday, but we are trying to stay away from him doing too much today and hope he’s ready to go for tomorrow,” Melvin said. “He made progress from the day before to yesterday, obviously you can swing all you want in the cage, but when you get in the game it’s a little different, so he’s off today.”
* Mark Canha will begin his rehab assignment with Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday. Canha was placed on the 10-day Injured List with a right wrist sprain. Canha, who fills in at first base and the outfield, was batting .200 with two homers before the injury.
Nick Martini began his rehab assignment with Las Vegas Wednesday, going 1-for-3 with an RBI single. In the same game, A’s eighth-ranked prospect Jorge Mateo extended his hitting streak to seven games, going 3-for-4 with a two-run home run, triple and a walk-off single — the first walk-off hit in Las Vegas’ new ballpark — to lift the Aviators over Salt Lake, 9-8.