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A’s will open 2019 season in Tokyo against Seattle

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 04:37:20 UT

MESA, Ariz. — For the third time in 12 years, the A’s will play their season opener in Japan in 2019, The Chronicle has learned. The Japan opener has yet to be officially announced, but according to league and team sources, Oakland and Seattle will begin next season at the Tokyo Dome. The two clubs opened the 2012 season in Tokyo. The A’s also started their 2008 season in Japan against the Red Sox. “If we’re in the running, I’d be 100 percent all for it,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin at Fitch Park on Wednesday. “Not only did we have a great time — it’s a life lesson as much as anything — but it significantly helped our team come together in 2012.



A’s Renato Núñez, out of options, leaner after no-pizza diet

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 04:35:14 UT

MESA, Ariz. — Renato Núñez is willing to give up even pizza to make Oakland’s roster. The corner infielder/outfielder is out of options this spring and the A’s are pretty well set at the spots he plays, with Matt Chapman at third, Matt Olson at first and offseason acquisition Stephen Piscotty on one of the corner outfield spots and Matt Joyce the other. Núñez will have to play all three adequately to have a shot at sticking with the team, so in an effort to improve his outfield play, Núñez dropped 10 pounds. He’s down to 212. “I’m lighter, I worked on that because I knew I’d be playing more left,” Núñez said at Hohokam Stadium. “Hopefully, I have a little more range, better wheels.



A’s to bring over Jesus Luzardo, Stoneman Douglas grad, for Friday ceremonies

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 19:48:16 UT

MESA, Ariz. - The A’s will bring minor-league pitcher Jesus Luzardo, who graduated from Majory Stoneman Douglas High School two years ago, over for their Cactus League opener so he can be part of pre-game activities in remembrance of the 17 people murdered at his alma mater last week, including athletic director Chris Hixon. Luzardo, 20, set up a fund for Hixon’s family last week that had reached $7,845 by Wednesday afternoon. Like the rest of the major-league teams, the A’s will wear hats Friday honoring the victims of last Wednesday’s shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Oakland plays the Angels at Hohokam Stadium to kick off Cactus League play.



Mark Ellis working with A’s prospect Sheldon Neuse at second base

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 17:29:50 UT

MESA, Ariz. - Former A’s second baseman Mark Ellis, in camp as a guest instructor, is providing prospect Sheldon Neuse pointers on playing that position. Neuse, acquired from the Nationals in the Sean Doolittle-Ryan Madson deal, mostly has played shortstop and third base, but the A’s would like to see him become a Chad Pinder-type utility players, so Ellis is working with him at second base this spring. “He moves well,” Ellis said, adding of the barrel-chested Neuse, “I wasn’t expecting him to move as well as he does. He looks really good and he wants to be more versatile. If you can play shortstop, it’s such a demanding position, you can usually play second base.



Commissioner Rob Manfred on A’s Howard Terminal option: ‘a big positive’

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 15:39:49 UT

Commissioner Rob Manfred didn’t exactly say he favors the Howard Terminal site for an A’s ballpark, but he did come up with a ballpark name. “Jack London Stadium.” Actually, it was a slip. Manfred meant to say building a park near Jack London Square would be a positive and quickly corrected himself at a Tuesday news conference in Glendale, Ariz. Either way, he seemed to approve of the site in the wake of the A’s getting rejected in December in their pursuit to build near Laney College. The other option is the Coliseum parking lot. “Jack London Square is a positive,” Manfred said. “The proximity to downtown generally is a positive.



Lefty Jarret Martin trades hardhat for A’s spring camp

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 04:31:18 UT

MESA, Ariz. — Back before free agency, many baseball players worked second jobs in the offseason. With bigger contracts and year-round training, that’s less common now, but this spring, the A’s have a part-time construction worker in camp. Left-hander Jarret Martin, his baseball career adrift after shoulder surgery in 2014, played independent ball in Sussex, N.J., and Ottawa in 2015, then he went to work digging ditches for his family’s construction company in Bakersfield. “It was really therapeutic, getting out there changing my goals, changing my mind-set,” Martin said at Hohokam Stadium. “Every morning, 6 a.m., I’d be out there in a bright orange T-shirt and a hardhat.



A’s prospect Jorge Mateo slowed by knee issue

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 17:17:01 UT

MESA, Ariz. - Jorge Mateo, one of the A’s most promising prospects, will not get as many at-bats early in the spring as the team had hoped because of a lingering knee problem. Mateo sprained the ligament in his left knee during winter ball and is still having some minor issues, particularly when it comes to decelerating. The shortstop is considered the fastest player in Oakland’s system, so running is a crucial part of his game; he’ll be held out of Cactus League action at least initially but he is participating in most of the team’s on-field work, including hitting. “The issue he has is slowing down - and he gets going pretty fast,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said Tuesday morning at Fitch Park.



Rickey Henderson, Dave Stewart help open good-vibe A’s camp

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 04:15:03 UT

MESA, Ariz. — The A’s full squad gathered Monday for the first time, and the players got a little treat: Manager Bob Melvin had Dave Stewart and Rickey Henderson address the club. Said Melvin: “When you touch upon Oakland pride and you have two guys who grew up in Oakland … They kind of went back and forth with each other about when they were growing up and the competition they had, how they feel about the team and organization. It was good stuff.” Stewart is serving as a guest instructor in camp for the first time; Henderson is a frequent guest instructor. Melvin said he has requested that the all-time stolen-base leader visit as much as he can, especially now that the team has more players with speed.



MLB adds rules to quicken pace of games

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 01:36:07 UT

Baseball games presumably will be played at a faster pace this season, thanks to changes announced by Commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday. Fans who detest the thought of a pitch clock can rejoice. There won’t be one in 2018, but other changes will be added to hurry the pace, which dragged last season as games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes and 11 seconds — 4½ minutes longer than in 2016. Mound visits will be limited, and the time allotted for pitching changes and inning breaks will be reduced. “I am pleased that we were able to reach an understanding with the Players Association to take concrete steps to address pace of play with the cooperation of players,” Manfred said.



Ex-Stanford lefty Jeremy Bleich in A’s camp, inspired by grandparents

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 00:50:12 UT

MESA, Ariz. — Jeremy Bleich, one of Stanford’s top pitchers in the mid-2000s, was a first-round pick of the Yankees in 2008. Then he fell off the map. Now the left-hander is in camp with the A’s as a nonroster invitee — and, after several years of struggling to come back from a shoulder injury, he is pitching like he did a decade ago. “I know he was a highly touted prospect, and it’s really cool to see him back to being the kind of pitcher he was when he was a major prospect,” said former A’s outfielder Sam Fuld, a close friend of Bleich’s. “Nothing would make me happier than seeing him make his major-league debut in a green and gold uniform.



Daniel Mengden will start for A’s in Cactus League opener

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 00:29:09 UT

MESA, Ariz. — Daniel Mengden, an early favorite for the No. 3 spot in the rotation, will be the first pitcher the A’s look at this spring. Barring any snafus, Mengden will start Oakland’s Cactus League opener Friday, The Chronicle has learned. Paul Blackburn, a strong candidate to make the rotation, also is in line to pitch in the game against the Angels at Hohokam Stadium. Mengden turned in a super September, going 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA after being recalled early in the month. Manager Bob Melvin called Mengden’s September “borderline spectacular. ...



Bobby Wahl back in A’s camp, better than ever after unusual surgery

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 19:45:21 UT

Bobby Wahl was a highly touted relief prospect who finally made it up to Oakland last year only to have his season cut short by an arm injury that proved difficult to diagnose. A cortisone shot worked only briefly, and Wahl’s rehab had several setbacks before he was finally diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome and had surgery to resolve the problem, which occurs when arteries or nerves are compressed in the area from the neck to the armpit. Wahl feels better now than he has in years, he said Sunday at Hohokam Stadium. He was in pain for some time, without realizing he had a serious issue. Even just a few days after his Aug. 14 surgery, he felt great.



A’s minor leaguer Jesus Luzardo planned to be at Douglas High on day of shooting

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 03:59:23 UT

MESA, Ariz. — A’s minor-leaguer Jesus Luzardo was planning to work out at his alma mater, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, on Wednesday when he got a chilling text from the baseball coach: “Don’t come to campus today. There is an active shooter.” “It was pretty crazy,” Luzardo said Saturday at the A’s minor-league complex. “It just was like a normal day, I was actually supposed to be at the school right when school was ending because I was supposed to go throw, and then I got a text from my old coach not to show up, there was a shooter.” Luzardo then started texting with a friend’s brother who still attends the school. “He was keeping me updated,” Luzardo said. “He was freaking out.



Sidearmer Nolan Blackwood impressing A’s with his slinging style

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 00:20:58 UT

MESA, Ariz. — One of the more unusual sights this spring in A’s camp comes when Nolan Blackwood takes the mound. Blackwood is a 6-foot-5 right-hander who throws sidearm with a nonchalant, minimal delivery that he describes as “pretty much knee-to-knee, get out there and sling it.” It works: Blackwood earned 19 saves at Class A Stockton last season, then had a terrific Arizona Fall League season, going 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA. “Righties don’t like it — at all,” Blackwood said of his sidearm style, which allows him to throw a sinker and, given his arm angle, a rising slider. “I’ve had a bunch of hitters tell me I’m the hardest at-bat they’ve ever had.



Commissioner visits A’s potential stadium sites

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 17:54:55 UT

MESA, Ariz. — Commissioner Rob Manfred was in Oakland last month and visited potential A’s stadium sites, team president Dave Kaval told The Chronicle on Friday. “The commissioner came to look at our new offices and I think he was impressed, and he also looked at the sites for a ballpark,” Kaval said at the A’s minor-league complex. “It was nice to give him a good tour.” According to sources, the main focus of Manfred’s visit was Howard Terminal, the waterfront area near Jack London Square that is minutes away from the team’s new offices and is one of three areas the A’s have pinpointed during their stadium search.