Ramón Laureano thrived in his first full season in 2019, performing like a five-tool on the brink of stardom with the A’s. Since then, his attempts to regain that form have been in vain.
In the shortened 2020 season, Laureano played in 54 of Oakland’s 60 games but finished with a career-low .366 slugging percentage. It looked like 2021 was in store for him as he posted an .870 OPS in his first 43 games and was among the league leaders with 11 home runs in that stretch. But a right hip injury and an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance ended his season in a tailspin.
The Dominican hit bottom in 2022. After serving the last 27 games of his suspension, he had the worst average (.211), worst on-base percentage (.287) and worst OPS (.663) of his career in 94 games. He was hampered by injuries all year, including a sore right hand and left oblique before a platelet-rich plasma injection into his right hip on Sept. 25 ended his season. At the same time, Laureano never found a rhythm with the bat when he was healthy enough to play.
“I didn’t really have a plan,” Laureano said of the problems he had with offense last season. “He was focused on emotions and not common sense. Before that he had like 11 home runs as of May of 2021. He was like second in home runs [en la Liga Americana] And then I got injured and things started to deteriorate.”
After the frustration of having to watch the final two weeks of another disappointing season from the bench, Laureano was quick to start preparing for 2023. After the A’s season ended on Oct. 5, Laureano rested for five days before to head to the club’s spring training complex in Mesa to begin his winter training. In mid-December, he started hitting and throwing.
Laureano’s early arrival at A’s camp is an indication of how focused he is. On the health side, he has been working with Oakland trainer Josh Cuffe in order to go for his goal of playing 162 games in 2023.
Oakland manager Mark Kotsay is aware of the talent Laureano possesses, having witnessed him as a quality control coach during Laureano’s breakout season in 2019 when the Dominican had an .861 OPS with 24 home runs, 13 stolen bases and 67 RBIs. Kotsay believes a rebound is within reach for the 28-year-old outfielder.
“We are looking for Ramón to go out and be the player he was in 2019,” Kotsay said. “Using the whole field, cutting down on strikeouts, putting the ball in play – the ability to run and be productive that way. I think he has identified what he needs to do to be successful.”