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Chavez returns to Oakland with Yankees

Chavez returns to Oakland with Yankees

Chavez returns to Oakland with Yankees
OAKLAND -- Eric Chavez may no longer call the O.Co Coliseum home -- in fact, he never played here when the building was labeled with that name. But the former Athletics star's exploits are not forgotten in his old haunt.

Going to the diamond through the unfamiliar runway leading to the first-base dugout on Friday, Chavez passed a poster of his home run stroke, slotted between images of fellow former A's Rickey Henderson and Scott Hatteberg.

"It's a little weird," Chavez said. "But it's cool to see."

Chavez played 13 seasons in Oakland beginning in 1998, and the six-time Gold Glove Award winner ranks 10th in franchise history with 1,320 career games played. He was on the disabled list when the Yankees visited Oakland last season, his first in New York.

"I spent a long time here, met a lot of good people here," Chavez said. "I felt like we just fell short of what we wanted to accomplish here. We were pretty close to accomplishing it.

"The '01 team [was] probably the best team that had an opportunity to win, and fell a little short there. I just wish we were able to finish it out here. We had some good teams."

As Chavez spoke, Derek Jeter pulled on a pair of socks two seats to his left and flashed a wry grin. It was Jeter's famed 'Flip Play,' of course, in Game 3 of the 2001 American League Division Series that helped deliver a dagger to Oakland's postseason hopes.

"And they didn't practice that play, either," Chavez said, adding a laugh.

Chavez went hitless in three at-bats as a designated hitter during New York's 6-3 win over the A's on Friday, and some in the crowd of 33,359 booed when he came to the plate for his first appearance in the second inning.

Chavez said he wasn't surprised, having seen first-hand how Jason Giambi was welcomed back to Oakland while wearing Yankees road gray.

"When Jason left, they asked me, 'What do you expect the fans to do?'" Chavez said. "I said, 'Well, he's playing for the Yankees; they should boo him.' I would expect the same thing. I wrote the manual."

Chavez said that as a West Coast guy -- he was born in Los Angeles and his parents are driving up for the series from San Diego -- he never envisioned playing on the East Coast; in fact, he named several eastern clubs on his no-trade clause lists with the A's.

But the Yankees have proven to be a good landing spot for the veteran, who is relishing playing a complementary role on a club filled with stars.

"It's been good. It's definitely been refreshing," Chavez said. "I remember in my career, I said I'd never play in New York, and here I am, back-to-back years. It's been a good spot for me."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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