The A-game on Monday at Oakland Coliseum will look a little different for Tracy White. She had got used to wearing her green and gold shirt with her son Marcus Semien’s name on it in the family section of the old ballpark.
For Oakland A’s four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays this week, White is putting on her brand new blue and white Toronto shirt with “Semien” printed on the back.
« Can I even wear this shirt? » Said White. « It doesn’t feel right not to wear an A-shirt, but I have to. »
This year has been full of changes for the Semien family. White and her husband Elgin, as well as Semien’s grandparents and sister, including family and friends, will be at the Colosseum for the first time since 2019. This time around, Semien will take the second base instead of shortstop. And he will be on the visiting Blue Jays team, not the home team.
It is an adaptation not only for Semien’s extended family, but also for the A-Team. This A-Team, a popular clubhouse leader while in Oakland, misses having Semien around.
Manager Bob Melvin saw a good number of former A players on the opposing field. Seeing Semien there will be especially difficult, he said.
Semien also misses his old teammates. He met with some of the A’s at the team hotel when they were in Tampa to play the Rays last week. You reconnected during punch training on Monday. But Semien is shocked by the role reversal.
« Last night, the weirdest part was putting on a video of Frankie Montas, » he said. « A guy that I’ve played behind for years and that I study because I’m going to look him in the face. It’s just weird. I know all about all these thugs and what they do because I’ve been watching. But if you ever against to compete, you have to really dig into the dates and the video, and it feels a little weird. «
The A’s will be seeing Semien again in September for a three-game series. – most likely in Buffalo, the affiliate site where the Blue Jays will be relocating from their current home stadium in Dunedin, Florida at mid-season. This may be the only time Semien’s family has seen him play live this season.
During his A years, White saw Semien and his family at least once a week. Now that Semien is across the country with the Blue Jays, White is fortunate enough to get a FaceTime with him, her daughter-in-law Tarah Murrey, and three grandchildren, Isaiah, Joshua, and Eli. The Semien family is based in Dunedin near the spring training facility that the Blue Jays have made their home stadium for the regular season due to COVID restrictions in Canada.
« This is the longest time I’ve seen without him in over six years, » said White.
The whole family of Semien plans to be at the Coliseum for all four games. While MLB’s COVID logs and three-night games don’t offer players much free time, the kind of quality time they’re used to may not be easy. At least they’re planning a hug. And White hopes to see her newest grandson Eli for the first time since he was first born four months ago.
For Marcus’ family, barbecues and gatherings were common after the weekend games for the six seasons he was with the Oakland A. In times of no pandemic, White and Semien’s younger sister, Chynna Williams, traveled to Anaheim and Seattle with the A, and each year they ventured to Mesa, Arizona to see spring training.
Semien’s time with his hometown team wasn’t a given. His arrival in Oakland in 2015 at a shop with the Chicago White Sox was a childhood dream come true for Semien and his family. Given the A’s history of letting go of longtime players, his departure felt inevitable.
That off-season, Semien signed a $ 18 million one-year deal to play the second base for the Blue Jays. He slipped from the shortstop to a double-play duo with young Toronto star Bo Bichette.
Semien has had a sluggish start with his new team, but in the past few weeks he has started to show more signs of his former self. Semien has scored well in eight of the last nine games, raising his average to 0.228, the highest since the opening week of the season. He hit his sixth home run of the season on Sunday, running four runs as the Jays completed a weekend in Atlanta.
Despite publicly announcing that they wanted to return their hometown hero and 2019 MVP finalists, they couldn’t keep up financially. The A’s did not renew a qualified offer to Semien, instead offering a bizarre $ 12.5 million deal with $ 10 million deferred and $ 1 million paid over 10 years.
« Well, I mean, we called her, » said Semien of his interaction with the A’s front office this winter. « I just leave it at that. We called her. It was just something I mine Family owed not just my wife and kids but also my parents and people who saw me play in the big leagues to call them up and say, « Hey, Marcus would like to play a minute, » and it didn’t work.
« But that’s perfectly fine. I understand the business. I understand where these owners are and what decisions they have to make now because of the pandemic. We just had to move on. We still have to try to make a living and make the best decision we can make for the coming season. And we did. »
The inevitability that his time was in Oakland struck Semien during the final game against the Houston Astros in the ALDS. After losing the series, Semien wondered aloud if it would be the last time he put green and gold on the field. He and his family knew it was true.
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« It wasn’t a shock to me. I always knew it, but I didn’t want it to happen, » White said. « I’m sure he would have liked to stay if circumstances had allowed it. If they were different and the A had a better attitude towards signing free agents, it would have been a better situation. It is what it is and I’m glad the Blue Jays are playing the A so I can watch a game. »
A’s fans are not kind to players spinning through the franchise’s revolving door. Jason Giambi was mercilessly booed on his return to the Oakland Coliseum after signing a seven-year $ 120 million deal with the New York Yankees in 2002. Fans who played this game 19 years ago held signs saying “Money can’t buy you love” and “Our Giambi is better” referring to his brother Jeremy.
Semien was on the field when Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes, two other fan favorites who slipped from Oakland, returned to the Coliseum in new jerseys.
« You always heard about it and talked to A’s fan and they were injured because they lost Cespedes and Donaldson, » said Semien. “I’m pretty sure Donaldson did damage on this show too. That’s something everyone wants to do when they go back to their old team to cause damage. You see, some people get booed, others get cheered . It’s part of the game. »
« I think you will be welcome, » she said. « I feel like he’s played most of his career in Oakland. Given the situation and the circumstances, it’s not like he left because he had an opportunity to stay. » I have a feeling the crowd will get this.
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