"It was an easy transition, for sure," laughed Thompson, who in the past two seasons hit .255 with one homer in 51 big league at-bats with the Yankees. "When I found out [the Athletics] were coming here, I couldn't get here fast enough. It's just a hop, skip and a jump from my house."
Thompson's wife and several friends ("More than I want to get tickets for," he joked) were able to attend his first game in an Oakland uniform. It was Thompson's first game at Rangers Ballpark since he represented Fort Worth's Western Hills High School in a 1998 Texas state high school all-star game here.
Thompson was a Junior College All-American in 1999 and 2000 for Grayson County College in North Texas, where he was a teammate of Angels pitcher John Lackey and Orioles infielder Brandon Fahey.
The Yankees took him in the 31st round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft, and saw him blossom in 2005 into an Eastern League All-Star and leadoff hitter for Team USA in the Futures Game. He had three stints with the Yankees in 2006, two more in 2007, and hit .281 with 24 stolen bases in 77 games this season at Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre.
A's manager Bob Geren said he remembered managing against Thompson's Licey team when he helmed Escogido of the Dominican Winter League in 2005.
"He plays left field, center, and he could probably play right," Geren said. "I know he steals some bases and has some power. We were staying in the same hotel in the Dominican, and I used to see him every morning. He was a nice guy.
"We're going to get him in the outfield mix a little. He'll go in for defense and he'll start some games. Everybody's going to be given the chance to show what they can do."
That's all Thompson needed to hear.
"I'm excited," he said. "It was a difficult situation with the Yankees the last seven years, so to come somewhere else is kind of refreshing. I was relieved, to be honest. I'd been with the Yankees so long, and the opportunities were pretty slim. Regardless of how many opportunities I get here, it will be better than it was [with New York].
"I'm here, I'm glad to be here, and now I just want to go do what I have to do."
Thompson was assigned No. 51. To clear space for him on the 40-man roster, the Athletics transferred outfielder Travis Buck (strained left hamstring and right elbow) to the 60-day disabled list.
Chavez surgery successful:
Geren said the prognosis for Eric Chavez was good, after the third baseman underwent surgery Wednesday to repair his right shoulder.
Angels team orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum performed the surgery, which repaired damage to Chavez's rotator cuff and biceps tendon. Yocum also removed an unspecified "loose body" from the shoulder of the six-time Gold Glove winner.
Geren said the club was hopeful Chavez would be recovered by Spring Training, although the third baseman said last week there still is a possibility he will require back surgery within the next month as well.
In the wings:
Highly touted first baseman Daric Barton and fast-rising lefty reliever Jerry Blevins are expected to join the A's for the rest of September once Triple-A Sacramento has completed the Pacific Conference Championship Series. The River Cats entered Friday trailing Salt Lake 2-0 in their best-of-five series.
Barton, 22, hit .293 with nine homers and 70 RBIs in 136 games for the River Cats.
Blevins, 24, started the season at Class A Daytona Beach and advanced through every level of the Minor League system, posting a 1.63 ERA and .200 opponents batting average through 56 Minor League appearances (77 1/3 innings).
Harden to throw Saturday:
Right-hander Rich Harden, on the disabled list for the second time this season since July 12, is scheduled to throw a simulated game on Saturday. Harden , who is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list as early as Sunday, will throw up to 30 pitches in two simulated innings.
It remains uncertain whether Harden, out with a strained shoulder, will pitch again this season. The 25-year-old has thrown just 6 2/3 innings in the Majors since April 15.
Minor League roving pitching instructor Ron Romanick joined the team in Arlington and will accompany the club for the next week. ... Bench coach Bob Schaefer made it to the ballpark by game time despite an apparent kidney stone, Geren said. ... Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani will attend Saturday's game in Arlington, as a VIP guest of Rangers owner Tom Hicks.
Right-hander Chad Gaudin (10-10, 4.25 ERA) is scheduled to face Texas Lefty Kason Gabbard (6-1, 4.07) in Saturday's second installment of a three-game series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. First pitch is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. PT.