A's Jaso to catch for first time since concussion

BY foxsports • February 25, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) Oakland Athletics catcher John Jaso will take his place behind home plate in a game for the first time since suffering a concussion when he was struck by a foul tip on July 24.

Jaso was given the starting nod for the spring training opener in Scottsdale on Wednesday, a move A's manager Bob Melvin hopes will put Jaso at ease quickly.

Melvin said Jaso will play four or five innings.

''We'll see what he does right off the bat,'' Melvin said Tuesday.

Jaso, who said he's treating it like any other game, feels confident he'll be fine.

''I'm just excited to get back there, get in a game and call some pitches,'' Jaso said.

The only thing he's changed is his mask, returning to the heavier steel frame designed to withstand more force than the titanium mask he wore the past few years.

''When I finally get involved, I won't be thinking about what happens if I get hit by another foul tip,'' Jaso said. ''I have to go out and do it and I'm going to go there without thinking about what happened; like it never happened.''

Jaso, the A's opening day catcher last season, hit a home run in the same game in which he was injured. He batted .271 with 21 RBIs before the concussion and was part of a successful platoon with Derek Norris.

The concussion affected his vision, including his depth perception. He said his head finally cleared up in October, during the postseason.

Jaso restarted baseball activity in Arizona, serving as a designated hitter and catching bullpen sessions for Fernando Rodriguez, who missed last year after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

''It's been a prolonged process,'' Jaso said. ''It was good to rest and now it's good to get into a game.''

NOTES: Melvin said he was ''dizzy'' after attending a meeting to discuss the latest replay regulations and the updated home plate collision rule. Replays were extensively discussed. ''There are reviewable plays and non-reviewable plays and a lot of both,'' Melvin said. ''They did a good job of explaining things and the reasons for it. It was a long meeting and rightly so. There were things I certainly haven't thought of before.'' Replays will be available at A's televised games this spring. ... Melvin on INF Nick Punto, who will start at SS in the A's spring opener Wednesday: ''He fits in the clubhouse like he's been around for a while. He's fundamentally sound and very focused. He's an easy guy to manage.''