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New Guardians manager Stephen Vogt makes fitting debut against Athletics at Coliseum

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Vogt has countless memories as a player at the Coliseum, from delivering in the playoffs more than a decade ago to homering in his final major league at-bat. On Thursday, he stepped into the dugout for the first time as a big league manager.

It was a fitting debut for Vogt, who was hired by the Cleveland Guardians in November. The Visalia, California, native said before the season opener at Oakland that facing his former club in his first game was confirmation that he is in the right place.

“It’s a lot different (than as a player), but similar excitement levels,” Vogt said. “Obviously being back in Oakland is pretty special.”

The 39-year-old former catcher played for the A’s for six seasons as part of a 10-year career that ended when he retired in 2022. Vogt said he will have more than 25 people at the Coliseum on Thursday to watch his debut.

“Honestly, I don’t really know what to feel,” Vogt said. “It’s one of those things that I don’t know what I don’t know yet. I just couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of a great organization.”

Vogt, a two-time All-Star, was a fan favorite in the Bay Area, also spending one season with the Giants. Chants of “I believe in Stephen Vogt” would ring out when he was batting, and his game-ending single in the 2013 playoffs against Detroit remains a prominent moment in recent A’s franchise history.

“The playoff atmosphere here is better than any in baseball,” Vogt said. “I’ve experienced a number of different playoff atmospheres now, but the Oakland Coliseum packed during playoff time is tough to beat.”

Vogt joined Seattle’s staff in 2023 as a bullpen coach before he was selected by Cleveland to replace Terry Francona. Vogt said he knew as early as 2015 that he had aspirations to coach in baseball. Having Francona, who managed the Guardians for 11 seasons, as a mentor has been a bonus.

“He’s been great for me,” Vogt said. “I’ve bounced a lot of things off of him, asked him a lot of questions. He’s provided himself as a resource to me anytime I need it. Kind of nice that somebody like that has your back and wants you to succeed.”

A’s skipper Mark Kotsay, who managed Vogt in his final season in 2022, said Vogt was replacing a Hall of Fame manager in Francona and “deservedly so.” Kotsay exchanged text messages with Vogt on Wednesday night, wishing him the best of luck.

Kotsay said he knew it was only a matter of time before Vogt would manage a big league team, and agreed it was fitting for Vogt to make his managerial debut at the same stadium where he ended his playing career with a home run.

“He’s got all the qualities to be a major league manager, and to have a long tenure doing it for sure,” Kotsay said.

Vogt stressed that he won’t come into the job thinking he has all the answers, and that it is helpful to learn from mistakes.

“Anything I’ve learned, I’ve taken that and made it my own,” he said. “So I’m going to continue to be me. I think that’s the No. 1 thing is just to be myself.”



Associated Press