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Familiar faces abound as the Athletics host Rangers

Sportsnaut
Apr 12, 2022; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA;  Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Adam Oller (36) throws a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays in the second inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

A reunion and a homecoming are on the calendar when the Texas Rangers visit the Oakland Athletics on Friday night.

The A’s Adam Oller (0-1, 13.50 ERA) is slated for a chance to pitch against former high school teammate Glenn Otto (0-3, 9.26 in 2021), whom the Rangers announced Thursday would be promoted from Triple-A Round Rock in time to start the opener of the three-game set.

Despite opening without most of last year’s standouts and with their first 10 games on the road, the A’s have been one of the early season surprises with eight wins in 14 games. That includes winning three of four games over the Baltimore Orioles in their first home series of the season this week.

“I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people with how good we are,” catcher Sean Murphy said after contributing a homer, double and three RBIs in Thursday’s 6-4 win in the series finale. “Maybe we don’t have the big names at home that people know yet, but they will. Because a lot of guys on this team are going to produce and make a name for themselves.”

Acquired from the New York Mets in March for 2021 ace Chris Bassitt, Oller followed Oakland’s first two-game winning streak with his A’s debut last Tuesday at Tampa Bay. He was rocked for five runs in 1 1/3 innings, but got no decision in a 9-8, 10-inning defeat.

He also followed a win in his most recent start Sunday at Toronto, but again couldn’t take advantage of the momentum. He was gone after 3 1/3 innings, having allowed three runs (two earned) in a 4-3 loss.

The 27-year-old right-hander made just two major league appearances and has never faced the Rangers.

Oller and Otto were teammates at Concordia Lutheran High near Houston. Oller graduated in 2013, a year ahead of Otto.

Oller went on to pitch three seasons at Northwestern State in Louisiana, then was selcted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 20th round of the 2016 MLB Draft. Otto played three years at nearby Rice before the New York Yankees drafted him in the fifth round in 2017.

Otto began the season in the minors, but will be pressed into duty on Friday with Jon Gray having been placed on the injured list with a sprained left knee.

“The important part for us is to get this right, right now,” general manager Chris Young explained of Gray’s injury. “It’s a long year and he’s a big part of our season.”

Otto made two impressive starts at Round Rock this month, allowing just two hits and no runs in seven innings, striking out nine.

He made his major league debut last season with the Rangers, going 0-3 with a 9.26 ERA in six starts. His third career came Sept. 10 at Oakland, where he lasted just 3 1/3 innings after giving up eight runs on eight hits and took the loss.

A Rangers visit means an Oakland homecoming for Marcus Semien, who played six season for the A’s before leaving in 2021 for Toronto’s one-year, $18 million offer.

He has since moved on to Texas, which rewarded his 45-homer season in 2021 with a seven-year, $175 million contract in free agency.

Semien went 10-for-30 with three homers and six RBIs in seven games against the A’s last season. Seven of those hits and one of those homers came in four games in Oakland.

–Field Level Media