From Brown and White Archives Apr. 7, 2006

Lehigh grad Matt McBride gets another chance at MLB


In his 11th season of professional baseball, Matt McBride, ’06, has been given another chance at success at the major league level.

McBride, who agreed to a minor league contract with the Oakland Athletics in December, is competing for a spot on the team’s 25-man roster. He played for the Colorado Rockies last year and appeared in 20 major league games, but he became a free agent at the end of the season.

Lehigh baseball coach Sean Leary keeps in contact with McBride and said signing with Oakland was a calculated decision.

“He felt like it was the best organization for him to get an opportunity this year, and so far the feedback’s been very positive for him,” Leary said.

Although he mainly played first base and corner outfield over the course of his career, McBride is trying to make the roster as a third catcher.

The position isn’t completely foreign to him, as he played it in his early years in the minors and all throughout college. Due to Oakland’s lack of depth at the position, it may be his best chance to make the team.

“They’re having him catch a lot, so he’s hopeful that that might help him with that utility role to make the final 25,” Leary said.

McBride is no stranger to fighting for a spot — he’s begun every season of his career in the minor leagues. He didn’t make his major league debut until 2012, six years after being drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the second round of the amateur draft.

He was also called up to the majors in 2014 and 2015, playing a total of 72 games over his time there, and he might have made it in 2013 if not for a season-ending neck injury in late June.

While McBride has struggled in his brief major league career, Leary said he thinks McBride just needs to get an opportunity with consistent playing time. In his previous major league stints, McBride was either a pinch-hitter or a platoon player.

Playing for a team whose coach has been called the “king of platoons” by outfielder Josh Reddick doesn’t inspire much confidence for McBride obtaining a full-time role. It does, however, improve his chances of winning a roster spot as a platoon catcher alongside last year’s starter Stephen Vogt, who has a .226 career batting average against lefties.

Whether or not McBride makes the final roster, his influence on Lehigh’s program cannot be understated. In addition to bringing recognition to the program, McBride still spends time with the team when he can and offers assistance to the players, according to Leary.

“Last year we had (Justin) Pacchioli and (Mike) Garzillo drafted, and we really think four of our seniors this year have a legitimate chance to go, which I think is in no small part due to the inspiration (McBride) has provided them,” Leary said.

The next time McBride finds his way back in the majors, he may not be the only one from Lehigh there.

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