With family in attendance, rookie third baseman delivers in second career game
By Mark Chiarelli
OAKLAND -- A's rookie third baseman Ryon Healy stepped to the plate in the second inning of Saturday's 5-4 win over the Blue Jays in search of his first career hit, having never faced a knuckleball pitcher in his life.
Healy launched a 66-mph R.A. Dickey offering 366 feet into the left-field stands, according to Statcast™, wrapping his first career home run around the left-field foul pole and giving the A's a 4-2 lead. As Healy rounded third and high-fived third-base coach Ron Washington, the adrenaline the A's No. 16 prospect said was rushing through his body subsided just enough for him to take in the moment.
"That's kind of when it hit me," he said. "I saw the guys standing at home plate and they gave me big high-fives unlike the guys in the dugout, who gave me the silent treatment, which I loved. I actually caught a glimpse of my family when I was running into the dugout, which made it more special."
Healy estimated that 12 family members -- the same group that attended his Major League debut Friday night -- were on hand to share the moment. After going 0-for-4 Friday night, Healy didn't wait long to make an impact Saturday, and he kept it going throughout the day, singling to left in the seventh on a play that nearly scored Marcus Semien, who was ruled out following a review on a play at the plate.
A natural first baseman, Healy has played a clean third base through his first two games, and is making a strong impression within the clubhouse.
"He's made a lot of plays," said winning pitcher Sonny Gray, who benefited from Healy's contributions. "I don't think there's anything that looked too fast for him. He's done everything thus far that you can ask and you can hope for."
"I like his energy," said Khris Davis, who homered twice Saturday. "He comes out not scared. He's big and physical, so I can't wait to see more."
The A's retrieved Healy's home run ball -- he swapped it for a signed baseball and hat with a fan in left field -- and he later received a celebratory pie to the face and a Gatorade shower from his teammates, adding the whipped-cream pie "was really delicious."
It's all a part of the experience for the 24-year-old, who is showcasing many of the same skills that helped him make the leap from Double-A to the Majors this year, hitting .326 and 14 homers in the process. Healy has put in additional pregame fielding work both days, and said he feels like he belongs.
"No matter where you are in life, you have to believe you belong and really run with that," he said. "There's a borderline between arrogance and confidence, and I like to hover on the confident aspect rather than the arrogant."
It's worked out so far, as he's taken a slew of new experiences in stride.
"My brand new cleats got drenched with Gatorade, but they keep telling me its the big leagues, you can get new ones," said a smiling Healy. "I guess I'll have to look into that."
Mark Chiarelli is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.