Ex-Viking takes liking to Triple-A life


A convenient move for the Oakland A’s has become an opportunity for Ryan Lipkin. The Vanden High School graduate went from Double-A Midland (Texas) to Triple-A Sacramento in just 106 miles.

Lipkin had just boarded a bus with his Midland teammates in Tulsa, Okla., on Aug. 13 when manager Steve Scarsone tapped the catcher on the shoulder and told him he would not be playing.

River Cats catcher Ryan Lipkin and plate umpire Tripp Gibson follow the flight of a foul ball Monday night at Raley Field in Sacramento.

Scarsone yanked Lipkin’s chain for a moment before revealing why he was no longer a RockHound. Lipkin was told to get off the bus, rent a car and drive to Oklahoma City to join the River Cats.

That the River Cats and RockHounds were both playing in Oklahoma made the move an easy one for the A’s. The River Cats were in need of a catcher after the A’s recalled Derek Norris on Aug. 5.

The move was not all that simple for Lipkin, however. The 24-year-old packed for a six-game road trip, so most of his clothes are still in Midland. He is now in Sacramento, but his car is in Texas.

Transportation is the least of Lipkin’s concerns with the River Cats, who have six home games remaining in the regular season. They will travel to Colorado Springs and Salt Lake City next week.

Fortunately for Lipkin, the River Cats will fly to Colorado and Utah. Lipkin might have enjoyed his time in the Texas League, but he can do without the 14-hour bus rides and relying on sleeping pills to get a few winks on an overnight trip.

Sacramento leads the Pacific Coast League’s South Division by 4½ games, so Lipkin has gone from playing with a last-place team in Midland to joining a contender in a span of eight days.

Any playoff games would delay Lipkin’s return to Midland to get his car and the rest of his personal belongings, which are in a team executive’s home after Lipkin had to move out of his apartment.

Lipkin could not afford the rent after his roommate, outfielder Michael Choice, was sent home in July with a fractured hand. Lipkin found a new place to stay by moving in with the executive’s family.

Ryan Lipkin

Being on his best behavior in his temporary residence was not a problem for Lipkin, He loves to hang out with his teammates as much as any minor-league player, but he knows better than to get carried away.

Sobriety has become a way of life for Lipkin, who does not miss drinking as much as he misses the hangovers. He prefers to rather pour everything he has into his third season of professional baseball.

“I want to experience the lifestyle,” he explained, “but I have to keep it between the (foul) lines.”

Lipkin has come too far to blow it now. His career has taken him from Vanden to Solano Community College and the University of San Francisco. He was a 24th-round draft pick by the A’s in 2010.

Sacramento is Lipkin’s fourth minor-league stop, so breaking the ice with a new team is nothing new. He does not make the clubhouse rounds, however, and try to get know each of his teammates.

“I don’t go out of my way to introduce myself,” he said. “I just play my game and when you play well, you get a little more respect. That’s the introduction I go for.”

 Lipkin would rather be known for how he “goes about my business.” He works hard and plays even harder. He will get plenty of work with the River Cats because he is the only catcher on the roster.

“There’s definitely a level of trust,” Lipkin said, “and I appreciate that.”

Manager Darren Bush took time to work with Lipkin before Monday’s game against the Las Vegas 51s at Raley Field. Bush is a former catcher, so he knows what it takes to play behind the plate.

“This is a good learning experience for me,” Lipkin said. “This will make me better.”


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I meet you at Kappel office I set next to big John m . Good article you wrote on Ryan Lipkin. Ron

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