Oakland A’s David Forst is looking for Jesús Aguilar to recover

Oakland A’s David Forst is looking for Jesús Aguilar to recover

New Oakland Athletics shortstop Jesus Aguilar believes he’ll be able to put a disappointing 2022 season in the rearview mirror and recapture the form he showed early in his career as a National League star.

Aguilar, in a combined 129 games with Miami and Baltimore last season, and just months removed from arthroscopic knee surgery in September 2021, hit a career-low .235 with just 16 home runs and 51 RBIs in 507 plate appearances.

Those numbers were a marked drop from Aguilar’s 2021 season, when he had 22 homers and 93 RBI in his second full year with the Marlins. They were also less than half of his totals in 2018, when he hit 35 homers and drove in 108 runs, numbers that ranked in the top five in the NL in both categories.

“For me, it’s no excuse for what happened last year,” Aguilar said. “My knee was fine, I was ready to play. I think it was a down year.”

But with a new one-year, $3 million contract in hand, the 32-year-old Aguilar says he’s ready to bounce back with an Athletics team that sees him in the lineup most days, either as a first baseman or designated hitter.

Aguilar said he has changed his position to better accommodate elevated fastballs, which he struggled to overcome last season. He now said he is closer to the position he had in 2021.

“I feel good. I feel ready to go out there and compete,” Aguilar said. “Thank God that Atléticos are giving me a chance. I think I’ll be ready to play. Hopefully, if I stay healthy, I’ll have a good year.”

“I’m confident because Jesus is confident he will recover and that was something I talked about with his representative (at MVP Sports Group) and then I talked to him before we signed him,” said the general manager of the A, David Forst.

“He’s really focused on getting back up this year and showing that he’s more of the player he was before 2022, so I’m excited for him to come out and show that.”

Asked if he envisions a platoon situation at first base with Seth Brown, who played 84 games at first base last year, and Ryan Noda, selected in the Rule 5 draft last month, Forst say, “We always feel that roster and lineup work. better when you don’t have a dedicated DH and have some flexibility to bring other guys in.

“Obviously, we want to see what Ryan can do from the left side. But I think you’ll find that Jesus’ experience, his power in the lineup, we’ll try to get him in as often as we can.”

As for Brown, who led the A’s with 25 home runs and 73 RBIs last season, Forst said, “I think I’ll make sure he gets both gloves on the field with him, but obviously with Jesus now, Noda, Dermis (Garcia). , I think it’s probably very likely that (Brown) will spend most of his time on the field.

“But as much as we’ve talked about versatility this offseason, he’ll come in knowing he has to be ready for both.”

The A’s traded lefty starter Cole Irvin and righty Kyle Virbitsky to Baltimore for infielder Darell Hernaiz on Thursday. While the move adds to an already deep cache of young outfielders, it also leaves the A’s starting rotation somewhat inexperienced. Irvin made 30 starts for the A’s last year and could have been in line to be their opening night starter.

Forst said Paul Blackburn and James Kaprielian, both coming off surgery, are feeling “better” and are expected to throw several times before Feb. 15, saying, “I think it’s reasonable to expect them two guys are ready to go.”

Also in contention for the starting rotation are JP Sears, Ken Waldichuk, AJ Puk, Shintaro Fujinami, Kyle Muller, Drew Rucinski and Adrian Martinez.

“We have a lot of inexperienced guys and that kind of history of going from 150 to 180 innings, so I think it would be the case either way,” Forst said of the Irvin trade. “We’re going to see some competition in the spring and then I think as the season goes on, we’re going to see guys competing for spots, and I think that’s healthy.

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