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Looking back now, Matt Olson didn’t like his 2020 season. He’s looked at himself on film at the plate and did not like the swing that was looking back.

“To put it bluntly, I stunk last year in my opinion,” Olson said in a call with reporters on Tuesday. “I don’t think that represents the caliber of player I am.

I’m excited to get out there and prove that’s not the player I am.”

Olson worked with hitting coach Darren Bush to identify and work through some of the mistakes he was making in 2020. He noticed he was putting himself in a bad position at the plate and that his bat was too horizontal. He had himself swinging around his body, rolling over stuff and unable to stay through the ball.

His timing had to be near perfect to hit one right. At least when the timing was perfect, he showed flashes of what makes him great. Next to the dismal .195 average and 31 percent strikeout rate, Olson continued to hit the ball hard. When he struggled — which was often — he found ways to draw walks and get on base. He hit 14 home runs in 60 games, at one point his seven-hit streak were all home runs.

Olson is a slow-starter. So in a season that ended before it began, Olson was one of many star players who could not get going at the plate. Manager Bob Melvin pointed to Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich as another strong hitter who fell into strikeout and average woes at the plate.

“It’s tough to evaluate last year,” Melvin said. “Matt is a type of guy that gets off to some slow starts. And if you got off to a slow start last year, you’re basically at the halfway point after a month.

I think he’s going to have a normal year this year, like he typically does in 162 games.” Related Articles

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Mitch Moreland: Officially an Athletic 

The A’s made official news that broke last week: Mitch Moreland, 35, signed a one-year, $2.25 million deal for the 2021 season. Moreland fits perfectly a role the A’s needed to fill as a left-handed-hitting designated hitter — who can play a little first base and pinch hit.

Up until his 2020 with the Padres, Moreland played his entire career in the American League — with Texas and Boston — and was designated hitter for just 69 games in nine seasons. But, with Olson firmly at first base, he could see way more time at DH against right-handed pitchers.

An A’s killer throughout his career — batting .271 with a .859 OPS against Oakland in 95 games — Moreland will come to the other side. Much to Melvin’s relief.

“He’s absolutely worn us out,” Melvin said. “Tired of watching him hit balls of that back wall in Oakland in center field.”

The A’s designated right-handed pitcher Paul Blackburn for assignment to make room on the 40-man for Moreland.

Live BP standouts

Jesús Luzardo’s first pitch clocked in around 98 mph, according to Melvin. That’s not only a good sign, but impressive. James Kaprielian looked fully healthy and threw the ball well. As did Burch Smith, who is coming off a forearm strain sustained last summer.

“Coming off injury you always have a little bit of a concern on how the ball is going to come out, but similar things that we saw last year,” Melvin said. “Good high fastball, breaking ball, changeup. Just good to see him have a smile on his face and throw to hitters coming out feeling good about it.”

Second-round pick Jeff Criswell impressed, too, with a live arm and better control of is breaking ball than he had in his bullpen sessions. Criswell has a potential starter mix of pitches and could be a name to watch in years to come.

“Those are the type of guys we’re looking for right now and trying to evaluate,” Melvin said.


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American University student found dead in shower at off-campus residence

An American University student was found dead in the shower of his off-campus residence Wednesday, police said.

The body of Eli Weinstock of Columbus, Ohio, was discovered by a roommate, “in the shower unconscious and not breathing,” police said in an incident report.

No cause of death has been provided.

Weinstock was a sophomore studying at AU’s School of Communications.

American University told WTOP that it is cooperating with D.C. police and “our hearts go out to the family and we are working to support them and our community at this difficult moment.”

“We extend our sympathy to Eli’s family and friends and those in the AU community who knew him,” said Fanta Aw, vice president of Campus Life & Inclusive Excellence at American University, in an email the school community Thursday.

“Eli was a young person of great talent and promise. Many are profoundly touched by his loss,” Aw said.

She added that AU’s Counseling Center offers crisis intervention services through ProtoCall at 202-885-7879 and faculty and staff may seek support through the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program at 202-885-2593.

Matt Small

Matt joined WTOP News at the start of 2020, after contributing to Washington’s top news outlet as an Associated Press journalist for nearly 18 years.

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