OAKLAND, Calif. — For now, Gretchen Piscotty can still comfortably attend her son's big league baseball games seven months after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease, and it is suddenly going to be far easier for her to do so.
Her boy is back in the Bay Area on the Oakland Athletics.
Stephen Piscotty got traded from St. Louis to the A's on Thursday during the final day of the winter meetings, bringing him home to play for the very team he grew up cheering.
"There's been a huge outpouring of support," Piscotty said during a conference call Friday. "It's really humbling and cool to see. Our family just feels so loved in a tough time."
While this was purely a baseball move for the A's — they had targeted Piscotty beginning in July and were in search of a right-handed hitting outfielder — everybody involved realizes it is an added bonus he can play close to his ailing mother and she can be a regular in the stands at the Coliseum, just a short drive from home in nearby Pleasanton.
General manager David Forst told Piscotty that when they spoke after the trade was finalized. The A's were so eager to get the deal done that team physician Dr. William Workman drove to Pebble Beach on Thursday to perform Piscotty's physical at an Airbnb before Piscotty golfed the spectacular course along Northern California's coastline.
"I'm thrilled that this worked out for him on that level. I can't imagine what it's like for him being away from home with those things going on," Forst said. "This is for us a baseball trade. We didn't go out and get him for that reason, but it's wonderful for his family and, hopefully, has given him and his family some peace of mind."
Piscotty and his family live in the East Bay suburb where he was raised. Hefelt "bittersweet" about leaving St. Louis, where he played his first three major league seasons. The Cardinals have supported him since his mother was diagnosed in May with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a disease that attacks the nerve cells.
"We're pretty emotionally tied and invested to that organization so it's sad to kind of cut ties with that. It chokes me up a little bit to think about. It's definitely emotional," Piscotty said. "Family obviously comes first and sometimes there's things more important than baseball. With this opportunity here I think it's just a great combination of family and baseball and making a lot of good out of that. It's really the best thing for myself and my family and I think a lot, a lot of good's going to come out of it."
In July, he closed on a home in St. Louis, and Piscotty will work to sell that while preparing for a fresh start in 2018. He signed a $33.5 million, six-year contract in May.
Piscotty took five days away from the Cardinals after his mom's diagnosis and spent two stints on the disabled list with hamstring and groin injuries. He wound up batting .235 with nine home runs and 39 RBIs in 107 games.
Piscotty, who turns 27 next month, has never played in Oakland after going to so many games at the Coliseum over the years. The A's want to keep him around for the long haul, someone Forst considers a great addition to a young roster.
"This was a priority for us," Forst said. "We're really looking forward to having him for a number of years."
The Piscotty family recently visited St. Louis to see the Budweiser Clydesdales because Gretchen loves horses, a trip the outfielder called "just so special."
"Things have definitely gotten a little more challenging but to be honest my dad has worked his tail off and has kind of got out ahead of a lot of things. We've been working with insurance and getting all the right medications, equipment," Piscotty said. "I feel like we're in a really good place. I give my dad so much credit, he's worked so hard, so has my whole family really. We're at a point we've got things pretty dialed in. We can move around and go places. ... That will give me a lot of comfort and peace of mind knowing that I'm close. So hopefully that takes a little bit of pressure off me and I can relax and play and have fun."
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