The Oakland Athletics will get an opportunity to introduce one of their prize acquisitions, Shea Langeliers, to the home fans when they open a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners on Friday night.
As part of a roster remodeling that saw them part with, among others, Matt Chapman, Mark Canha, Starling Marte, Josh Harrison, Frankie Montas, Sean Manaea and Chris Bassitt since the end of last season, the A's sent Matt Olson to the Atlanta Braves in March for four prospects, including Langeliers, who had been considered one of Atlanta's top prospects.
The 24-year-old, mostly a catcher in the minor leagues, made his major league debut this week in Texas as the A's were taking two of three from the Rangers.
Serving as the designated hitter, Langeliers hit a double in his first game and a home run in his second. As the starting catcher on Thursday, he doubled during Oakland's 10-3 loss.
Langeliers hit .283 with 19 homers and 56 RBIs in 92 games for Triple-A Las Vegas this season before his promotion.
A's general manager David Forst insisted Langeliers' call-up in no way demonstrates any disappointment in regular catcher Sean Murphy, who started the first two games of the Texas series and hit three homers. Murphy went 0-for-3 as the DH on Thursday.
"I don't think bringing up Shea is about limiting Sean's workload as much as it is about seeing Shea and getting him some opportunities in the major leagues," Forst said. "Sean is our starting catcher. That's not going to change."
The Mariners' expected starting pitcher on Friday, left-hander Marco Gonzales (7-12, 4.18 ERA), has never faced Langeliers, but he is familiar with most of the rest of the A's. He will face them for the fourth time this season, having pitched a pair of wins, including 8-2 on June 21 in his only outing in Oakland this year.
Gonzales is 9-4 with a 3.88 ERA in 18 games, including 17 starts, against the A's in his career.
The Mariners, who had Thursday off, have played their way into the thick of the American League wild-card race with 36 wins in their past 51 games.
The flurry began the last time they visited Oakland. They were 29-39 before sweeping three against the A's from June 21-23, with Gonzales pitching seven strong innings during the victory that got it going.
Seattle arrives this time having won three in a row, all against the Los Angeles Angels, in the middle of a nine-game trip that began with two defeats in the three games at Texas.
"It's a crazy game," catcher Cal Raleigh said after the Mariners' 11-7 win over the Angels on Wednesday. "It's a credit to the guys we have in here. They've kept their heads up. It's a hard game, especially when things aren't going your way. I'm really proud of these guys."
The A's and Mariners have dueled 10 times this season, but left-hander Cole Irvin (6-10, 3.13), who will start Friday for the A's, hasn't started any of those games. In fact, he has never beaten the Mariners in his career, losing all five starts while producing an 8.69 ERA.
Seven current Mariners have a batting average of .333 or better against Irvin, including Ty France, who has gone 5-for-10 with a double, a homer and three RBIs.
--Field Level Media