Forst, Kotsay explain why A’s optioned .429-hitting Ruiz to Triple-A

Forst, Kotsay explain why A’s optioned .429-hitting Ruiz to Triple-A originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

The Athletics surprisingly optioned outfielder Esteury Ruiz to Triple-A Las Vegas on Monday after he excelled in Oakland’s opening series against the Cleveland Guardians.

In turn, the A’s summoned infielder Tyler Nevin, whom Oakland claimed off waivers Sunday from the Baltimore Orioles.

A’s general manager David Forst and manager Mark Kotsay discussed Ruiz’s demotion with reporters Monday before Oakland’s matchup against the Boston Red Sox at the Coliseum.

Forst cited Ruiz’s need to consistently get on base as the main reason Oakland optioned him to Las Vegas, yet the outfielder had no issue doing so over the weekend.

Ruiz hit 3-for-7 (.429 and 1.232 OPS) with one double, one triple, one RBI and one stolen base in three games versus the Guardians and also was essential in helping the A’s win their first game of the 2024 MLB season after they endured an 0-3 start.

After having a .254/.309/.345 slash line for the A’s last year, Ruiz seemed to be taking a step forward during this season.

Nonetheless, Kotsay reiterated Oakland’s decision to demote Ruiz when talking to reporters on Monday.

“My message for Esty is, he’s going to go down, he’s going to lead off, he’s going to play every day. He’s going to go down and dominate that level,” Kotsay added. “Those are my expectations. He’s working really hard and is continuing to work hard and buy in on the adjustments we’ve asked him to make.

“Acquiring Nevin today gives us a chance to have Esty go down and play every day, not sit here and come off the bench, as he’s done a couple of times. Just give him an opportunity to go play every day and go down and show these adjustments are going to lead to the success we’re looking for.”

While Ruiz stole an AL-record 67 bases for Oakland last season, he had a modest spring compared to Nevin, which likely was the deciding factor for the A’s to option their outfielder.

Ruiz, 25, slashed .236/.295/.400 over 20 games, while Nevin, 26, slashed .333/.367/.474 over 23 games. Ruiz also had a .309 OBP during the 2023 regular season.

Forst and Kotsay appear on the same page, believing Ruiz needs to get on base more often to make his base-stealing ability a threat.

While Ruiz’s demotion was unexpected, Forst and Kotsay don’t expect Ruiz to be in Las Vegas for long.

A’s fans hope Ruiz returns soon, considering the speedster emerged as a fan favorite during Oakland’s 112-loss 2023 season.