A’s Matt Chapman sits out another game against Twins, while Sean Manaea inches closer

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Matt Chapman was left out of the A’s lineup for the second game in a row with ankle soreness.

It’s precautionary, manager Bob Melvin noted.

“One more day will probably serve us well in that you don’t want to go out a bit sore and have it get worse or linger,” Melvin said before the A’s took on the Twins on Friday.

Chapman’s barking ankle may be best suited propped up on the dugout steps for as long as needed during this series. Though the A’s could surely use his smoking bat — he’s batting .563 in 16 at-bats since the All-Star break with a 1.152 OPS dating back to June 14 — a healthier Chapman taking on the first-place Houston Astros may be a priority over forcing a hobbled Chapman into action.

Sean Manaea takes next step

The A’s rotation is in a strong state, posting a 2.20 ERA and 5-0 record over its previous seven games. But reinforcements inch closer. Sean Manaea made a rehab start with Class-A Stockton on Thursday night, tossing 3 ⅔ shutout innings with four strikeouts, four hits and two walks. Of the 64 pitches he tossed, 39 clocked in for strikes.

“If the stuff looks like it did last year, maybe we take that into consideration too,” Melvin said. “But it seems like he’s been pretty consistent the last couple times around. If he has the type of stuff and velocity that we’re seeing right now, pretty good chance he gets here when he’s ready.”

Robbie Grossman’s defense

It came as a bit of a shock when Grossman’s name headlined the American League’s top left fielders on the Sabr Defensive Index. Grossman’s defensive numbers were grim in his previous seasons with the Twins and Houston Astros. So much so that Melvin was warned about that when Grossman came to the A’s.

His Ultimate Zone Rating (a measurement that determines a fielder’s effectiveness based on league averages) ranged from minus-13.8 in 2016 to minus-3.3 in 2017 and minus-0.9 last season. His Defensive Runs Saved metric ranged from minus-21 in 2016 to minus-4 in 2017.

In 2019, his UZR jumped to 2.9. His DRS: 2. The jump seems small, but it all adds up to a Grossman becoming one of the top left fielders in baseball this season.

What made the difference? Grossman said it was just a matter of standing up straight in the outfield as opposed to crouching.

“Before I’d get low to the ground because you think, it’s like you’re guarding someone in basketball. Get in a good position,” Grossman said. “Same thing with stealing a base, I found out that the lower I am to the ground, my first move is to stand straight up. I was doing the same thing in the outfield.”