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Brent Rooker, Esteury Ruiz shining bright in Athletics’ bleak season

Rooker, Ruiz lone bright spots for A’s in bleak season originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

As historically terrible as the 2023 season has been for the Athletics, both Brent Rooker and Esteury Ruiz have been two bright spots the club can feel good about. Like two dimly-lit candles in a dark haunted house.

With Oakland undergoing yet another rebuild, the A’s, at the very least, have two building blocks for the future. Wherever that might be.

The A’s, who own an MLB-worst 7-26 record, secured a 12-8 win over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium thanks to the continued contributions from their two young outfielders and starting pitcher Kyle Muller (W, 5 1/3 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, K), who became the first Oakland starter to record a win this season.

Rooker went 3-for-5 at the plate with a two-run home run, double and three RBI while Ruiz, the A’s leadoff hitter, went 3-for-6 with two stolen bases.

In speaking to reporters after the game, A’s manager Mark Kotsay was asked how encouraged he has been with Rooker and Ruiz this season as the team continues to build towards the future.

“Any time that you have young players that are trying to solidify themselves as major league players, it’s nice to see the positive results that both Ruiz and Rooker have had to this point,” Kotsay said. “We’ve also got more talent on this roster that has a lot of positives and things going in the right direction for them. So that’s what we focus on in that locker room. Obviously, we’re here to win games and mature these guys into mature big leaguers.”

Rooker, whom Oakland ironically claimed off waivers from none other than the Royals, not only has been the A’s best player this season but also has been one of the better players in all of baseball. The 28-year-old is hitting .333/.442/.726 with 10 home runs (second-most in the American League) and 25 RBI in 84 at-bats this season.

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Ruiz, who was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers in a three-team trade that sent former A’s catcher Sean Murphy to the Atlanta Braves during the offseason, has provided a boost offensively and defensively with his game-breaking speed. With two stolen bases on Friday, Ruiz now has 15 on the season, which is tied with Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. for the most in all of baseball.

The A’s, who find themselves in baseball’s uninspiring and unrewarding cellar, have two young players who continue to be bright spots for an organization starved for positivity.