After a Gatorade shower following an A’s 2-0 win over the Chicago White Sox last season, starting pitcher Chris Bassitt said the ‘W’ meant a little extra for him.
He had just struck out seven in just as many innings and didn’t allow a run against the team that had drafted him in 2011. And now, he will face them again on the big stage in Game 2 of the AL Wild Card Series on Wednesday. It will be an added incentive.
“It’s special for me because — it’s kind of like playing with your friends kind of thing, so I know after the game I’ll have 30 or 40 ex-teammates and coaches and stuff texting me, so it’s fun — it’s a different dynamic,” Bassitt said Tuesday.
In 2014, Bassitt was traded from Chicago to Oakland along with catcher Josh Phegley, first baseman Rangel Ravelo and shortstop Marcus Semien for pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Michael Ynoa.
“I’m thankful for the White Sox and so many people there that kind of groomed me before I got to Oakland and obviously I’m kind of thankful for Oakland for sticking with me through all the crap that I had to go through to get to this point,” Bassitt said. “I think the word is just ‘thankful’ for it.”
Bassitt said the A’s have been thrown every curveball this season, including coronavirus delays, the brawl against the Houston Astros, racial injustice boycotts — all of it. But he explained it was after the scuffle with the Astros that he changed as a pitcher.
The intermittent halts allowed Bassitt to take the time to really view what he was doing as a pitcher. The extra bullpen work certainly helped, too.
“We took full advantage of it and kind of manipulated some pitches around and ever since then, we’ve kind of been on a roll,” Bassitt said.
He’s a different pitcher now than he was with the White Sox. He also isn’t the same person.
“[I was very] energetic and very competitive with the White Sox, I was also very immature where I would let basically everything affect me. And even when I came over to the A’s I think I was basically the same person and once I had [Tommy John surgery], everything kind of slowing down and then last year and this year, especially this year, was just basically all the noise outside of the stuff I can’t control.”
Bassitt’s adjustments went beyond the mound.
“I just basically muted everything,” Bassitt added. “Again, I worried so much about so many things that I could not control.”
Bassitt added that once he let things go, amazing things began to happen.
The 31-year-old righty was named the AL Pitcher of the Month for September when he went 3-0 with a 0.34 ERA in four starts and limited opposing hitters to a .232 batting average.
Letting go certainly paid off.