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Kendall Graveman named A’s Opening Night starter

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 05:09:15 UT

Kendall Graveman named A’s Opening Night starter MESA, Ariz. — Graveman said he was humbled by the honor, but he said that once he’s done with that outing, the responsibility moves to the rest of the rotation. Graveman, who was acquired from Toronto in the Josh Donaldson trade in November 2014, was the A’s top starter last season when Gray was out with an elbow strain. Graveman finished 10-11 with 4.11 ERA but had stretches in which he was superb, going 9-2 with a 3.33 ERA from May 30 to Aug. 24. Melvin said that Graveman, 26, will pitch April 3 at the Coliseum against the Angels, and he’ll be followed in the rotation by Manaea, a 25-year-old left-hander, and Cotton, a 25-year-old right-hander who came from the Dodgers last summer in the Josh Reddick-Rich Hill deal. Melvin said that anytime Manaea starts, “you expect big things, and Jharel as soon as he hit the mound for us, he fit in well and performed really well, which is difficult to do for a younger guy who was pitching in Triple-A with a different organization.” The A’s are likely to have the youngest April rotation in the majors. “I see some very determined guys, guys who want to prove some things, guys who have a little chip on their shoulder,” Graveman said. The special part is we have these young guys on the mound, but then very veteran relievers and position player who are going to help this process along. The fourth and fifth spots in the rotation are still up for grabs among Andrew Triggs, Jesse Hahn and Raul Alcantara, but Melvin said Thursday that Triggs’ nice outing Wednesday against the Mariners might have given him a leg up — but there is, of course, still a week and a half before the regular season starts. “It’s going to go back and forth, and Triggs pitched really well” Wednesday, Melvin said. If you’re handicapping it and we start (the season) tomorrow, he’s probably in a good spot. [...] we have a few games left. Alcantara, who is out of options, started Thursday against the Brewers. Susan Slusser is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: sslusser@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @susanslusser Rotation competition With Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton having secured spots in the Oakland starting rotation, here’s a look at top contenders for the last two spots (with spring training statistics): Pitcher IP ERA BB



Alejandro De Aza, Chris Parmelee make noise in A’s roster race

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 02:42:43 UT

Oakland’s fifth-outfielder competition proceeded apace Thursday, with Alejandro De Aza and Chris Parmelee collecting two hits apiece. Decker was in a dead heat with De Aza for the final roster spot, but Parmelee is opening some eyes with nine hits in his past 14 at-bats, including a three-run double in the fourth Thursday. “Nice little versatile player,” manager Bob Melvin said. De Aza is the most experienced of the three nonroster players; he’s 32 and has played in 810 big-league games, including 24 with the Giants two years ago. Typically, fifth outfielders are defensive specialists, and De Aza is known for his fielding ability. [...] baseman Joey Wendle is also making strides. Wendle, out with a sore right shoulder, was scheduled to begin throwing again Thursday. Starting pitcher Sonny Gray (lat strain) is continuing with his throwing program. Yonder Alonso walloped two homers, a two-run shot in the second and a solo shot in the third. Daniel Coulombe entered the game with an ERA over 9.00 but worked 21/3 scoreless innings. … Rajai Davis on Alonso’s first homer, a blast down the right-field line that some onlookers said bounced and struck the Brewers’ bus.



A’s outfield hopeful Jaff Decker close to return

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 21:09:35 UT

Jaff Decker, who is in a dead heat with Alejandro De Aza for the A’s fifth outfield spot, is close to returning to game action after missing time with an oblique injury. Decker, who has missed six games so far, hopes to take batting practice Friday and if all goes well, to play in a minor-league game Saturday and be available to play for Oakland on Sunday. The A’s have weighed the possibility of going with just four outfielders in order to add a 13th pitcher to the roster, but it’s more likely they’d take either De Aza or Decker to open the season or soon thereafter. [...] baseman Joey Wendle is also making strides.



Rotation candidate Andrew Triggs fares well in A’s win

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 23:54:04 UT

Andrew Triggs reasserted a strong claim to one of Oakland’s final two starting pitcher spots Wednesday. Triggs, who entered the spring as one of the favorites for a rotation spot, was coming off a rough start against the Indians in which he allowed five hits, two walks and six runs, all earned. Against the White Sox, however, he gave up only one hit through the first four innings (three overall) in Oakland’s 5-3 win. “He was outstanding, especially with a lineup with seven lefties,” catcher Stephen Vogt said of Triggs, noting that his only mistake with a changeup came on Yolmer Sanchez’s leadoff homer in the fifth. Among the events are a flag raising at City Hall at noon Monday, the unveiling of an A’s mural at the corner of 19th and Webster at 6 p.m. Tuesday (followed by a happy hour at Bar 355); free coffee at Peet’s (1111 Broadway) from 8 to 9 a.m. Wednesday; and a trek on BART to AT&T Park on Thursday with Stomper and members of the front office that includes a free round-trip BART pass while supplies last for ticketholders (arrive at the plaza between the Coliseum and the arena between 4:30-5:15 p.m.) A fun twist: at all Spirit Week events, including the April 1 Bay Bridge Series game at the Coliseum, fans can trade in a Giants cap for a brand-new A’s cap. Oakland got three consecutive two-out hits in the first, including a two-run double by Stephen Vogt. … Matt Joyce had a two-out RBI single in the second. … Bullpen candidate Frankie Montas struck out all three men he faced in the eighth and pitched a scoreless ninth, giving up a two-out triple to Yolmer Sanchez but striking out Rymer Liriano to end the game. … Manager Bob Melvin, asked when the spring doldrums usually hit; he added that the players feel like they’re ready to go start the regular season.



A’s Spirit Week: beer, coffee, Giants cap swap

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 20:26:12 UT

A’s Spirit Week: beer, coffee, Giants cap swap Here’s a list of the events from a release put out by the team this morning, and make particular note of the Budweiser happy hour, free coffee at Peet’s, and the free round-trip BART offers - along with the chance to swap a Giants’ cap for an A’s cap. A’s fans are invited to join the team for a special unveiling of a new A’s mural on the side of the PG&E building at 19th Street and Webster. The unveiling will include giveaways and music from 6 - 8 p.m. and a special 3D video projection on the mural at 8 p.m. Fans can also join the A’s at Bar 355 (355 19th Street) from 6 - 8 p.m. for a special Budweiser happy hour featuring the new A’s Budweiser Elephant team can. A’s alumni Bip Roberts and Shooty Babitt, along with Terry Butler aka Mr. Community, will host a Youth Sports Nation “Play Ball” student assembly. Fans are invited to meet the A’s on the Coliseum plaza (between the Coliseum and Oracle Arena) from 4:30 - 5:15 p.m. to ride to the game with the A’s and then walk together along Embarcadero to AT&T Park, filling the streets with A’s chants and excitement. All A’s fans with a ticket to that night’s game who join the team at the Coliseum will receive a free roundtrip BART pass until supplies last. Fans can follow the A’s on Twitter and Facebook for location announcements for secret events and prize giveaways. Fans can trade in a San Francisco Giants cap for a new Green and Gold A’s cap at all public Spirit Week events, including the April 1 Bay Bridge game at the Coliseum.




A’s Sonny Gray OKd to resume throwing earlier than anticipated

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 05:52:09 UT

Sonny Gray didn’t think the lat strain that has sidelined him the past two weeks was a major issue, and he got the go-ahead to resume throwing after a visit to specialist Dr. Anthony Romeo in Chicago. Romeo is best known for the “Peavy procedure,” which saved Jake Peavy’s career after a torn latissimus dorsi (back) muscle. The reduction in time he was shut down means that Gray won’t have lost quite as much tone as he would have at three weeks, and he has been able to do his arm strengthening work throughout. Chris Bassitt, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery, threw all his pitches Tuesday for the first time since surgery in a 30-pitch bullpen session. Neither of the candidates for the second left-handed spot in the Oakland bullpen is performing all that well this spring, and hard-throwing prospect Frankie Montas remains in the mix for that final spot in the bullpen. Montas has allowed five hits, a walk and one run in six innings, and he has struck out five. The A’s might have just one bullpen opening if they keep five outfielders, although they could go with four out of the gate if need be in order to keep 13 pitchers. Raul Alcantara is a candidate for the final bullpen spot should the A’s keep 13 pitchers, but if not, he’s likely to land one of the final starting spots. Like Alcantara and Detwiler, who has been mainly a starter, Montas can work more than one inning, which would be a plus. [...] Melvin made it clear Tuesday that the A’s don’t necessarily think they need to keep a second left-hander in the bullpen after Sean Doolittle, though Doolittle is not a traditional left-on-left reliever but a setup man. Melvin said that the team would like to have a couple of relievers who can go multiple innings. When you have guys like Ryan Madson who is telling me, ‘I’ll pitch anytime you need me to pitch, in any inning,’ that goes a long way in making the conversations easier. The A’s sent 10 men to the plate in the third inning and recorded eight hits, including five doubles to take a 6-0 lead and drive ex-Giants pitcher Chris Heston out of the game with one out in the inning. … Nonroster outfielder Chris Parmelee had two hits in the inning, including a leadoff double, and Bruce Maxwell whacked a two-run double. … Jharel Cotton gave up a run in the third and four in the fourth, an inning in which he walked three batters; he had a chance to get out of it with minimal damage, but second baseman Adam Rosales couldn’t quite handle a potential inning-ending grounder by Jarrod Dyson. … Simon Castro entered with the bases loaded and gave up a two-run single to Robinson Cano. …



Frankie Montas still in mix for A’s bullpen; how things are stacking up

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 23:38:46 UT

Neither of the candidates for the second left-handed spot in the Oakland bullpen is performing all that well this spring, and hard-throwing prospect Frankie Montas remains in the mix for that final spot in the bullpen. Montas has allowed five hits, a walk and one run in six innings and he has struck out five. The A’s might have just one bullpen opening if they keep five outfielders, although they could go with four out of the gate if need be in order to keep 13 pitchers. Raul Alcantara is a candidate for the final bullpen spot should the A’s keep 13 pitchers, but if not, he’s likely to land one of the final starting spots. Like Alcantara and Detwiler, who mostly has been a starter, Montas can work more than one inning, which would be a plus. [...] Melvin made it clear Tuesday that the A’s don’t necessarily feel they need to keep a second left-hander in the bullpen after Sean Doolittle (though Doolittle is not used as a traditional left-on-left reliever, he’s a set-up man). When you have guys like Ryan Madson who is telling me, ‘I’ll pitch any time you need me to pitch, in any inning,’ that goes a long way in making the conversations easier.



Dallas Braden, Jonny Gomes could do A’s TV studio work

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 06:18:32 UT

With expanded pre- and postgame shows on CSNCA this season, the A’s broadcast partner might be turning to several former Oakland players to help serve as analysts. Among those on the CSNCA wish list, according to sources: left-handed starter Dallas Braden, the Stockton native who threw the 19th perfect game in big-league history in 2010; and outfielder Jonny Gomes, a key part of the A’s improbable run to the 2012 postseason. Several other former A’s are thought to be in the mix — there are rumblings about Jose Canseco, among others — for occasional studio work, along with regular contributors Shooty Babitt and Bip Roberts. Braden, a high-energy, entertaining TV presence, serves as a “Baseball Tonight” analyst for ESPN but it’s expected that he would be able to handle both duties; many ESPN, TBS and MLB Network analysts also work for teams. Gray is expected to miss the first few weeks of the regular season with a lat strain, but he told The Chronicle on Sunday he was feeling great and hoping Romeo might give him the all-clear to begin throwing again. … Reliever Sean Doolittle helped design a T-shirt to benefit Michael’s Way, a nonprofit that provides help to children with pediatric cancer — including Danny Hill, a teen from Doolittle’s hometown of Medford, N.J., whom the pitcher has befriended — and also assists with families’ medical bills. Sean Manaea put together another strong start, allowing one unearned run in five innings. Khris Davis smacked a two-run double high off the batter’s eye in the first. … The A’s held a 5-1 lead, but Sean Doolittle gave up a two-run homer to Kevin Cron in the seventh and Ross Detwiler gave up three hits, two walks and five runs in the eighth.



Defense is A’s biggest potential shortcoming

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 04:40:47 UT

The A’s don’t have an above-average fielder at any spot besides Yonder Alonso at first base, and only a sprinkling of average defensive players: “We’re hoping it’s improved,” vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane said. Though some scouts this spring said they believe that Oakland might be better than last year, when the team had the second-highest error total in the league, most agree that the A’s will be challenged defensively. “They could be one of the worst defensive teams again,” one longtime American League scout said. Infield coach Chip Hale, back with the A’s after two years as Arizona’s manager, says he likes what he has seen of the defense. Lowrie gets more than his fair share of criticism as a defensive player, largely centering around his range, but after foot surgery and a procedure to repair a deviated septum, Hale said he is moving better at second and able to work out harder. Marcus Semien has turned himself into a much better shortstop with help from coaches Mike Gallego and, the last year and a half, Ron Washington, even showing the drills to minor-leaguers and new players such as Plouffe. The A’s had considered making Mark Canha the backup center fielder, but Canha, coming off hip surgery and missing almost an entire season, hasn’t played particularly well in the field this spring. Center fielder Rajai Davis is better defensively than he was in his first stint (2008-10) with the A’s, his speed making up for the occasional poor route, and right fielder Matt Joyce, who will platoon with Canha, doesn’t have a ton of range. “We have recognized that our strength from an outfield standpoint is to just catch the balls we’re supposed to, throw the ball where we’re supposed to,” outfield coach Mike Aldrete said.



A’s Sonny Gray to visit lat expert in Chicago on Monday

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 04:06:56 UT

Romeo is an internationally known latissimus dorsi expert who saved former Giants starter Jake Peavy’s career by repairing his torn lat muscle in 2010; Romeo also performed a similar surgery, now called “the Peavy procedure,” on former A’s reliever Fernando Rodriguez. Gray is not considered a surgical candidate, however — he is hoping to get the all-clear to begin throwing again after being shut down for the past two weeks. Gray said Sunday that he has continued to do all his regular arm-strengthening work and cardio, everything except throwing. Should Gray get the go-ahead to resume throwing Monday, his time frame from returning to the team could be moved up slightly; instead of returning in late April, the middle of the month becomes a more realistic possibility. Lat injuries can be tricky, however; Johnny Cueto of the Giants has had difficulties with recurring lat strains in his career. Jaff Decker was on the cusp of winning an A’s roster spot, but now an oblique strain incurred while hitting in the cage Saturday might hamper the outfielder’s chance. Beyond that, it might be tough to make the club out of spring training. Just two days ago, vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane pointed to Decker as one of the nicest surprises of the spring. Promising young starter Daniel Gossett, who pitched at three levels of Oakland’s system last year, was sent to minor-league camp Sunday, but his is a name to keep in mind. “I’ve got to get my innings; it makes sense,” he said. [...] sent to minor-league camp: reliever Chris Smith, infielder Max Schrock and catchers Matt McBride and Sean Murphy Jesse Hahn was in the driver’s seat in the competition for the fourth-starter spot, but he stumbled at Talking Stick on Sunday, allowing eight hits, two walks and seven runs in 31/3 innings. The A’s have two rotation openings with Sonny Gray on the disabled list to open the season. … Charlie Blackmon had a two-run triple and a solo homer off Hahn. ... Jake Sanchez, borrowed from minor-league camp, retired both men he faced and recorded a strikeout; Sanchez pitched two scoreless innings for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic this month and he earned 21 saves and put up an 0.28 ERA in winter ball there this past offseason. Melvin said pitching coach Curt Young had seen Sanchez pitch in the WBC and had really liked what he did there. ...



Jaff Decker’s oblique injury could impact shot at A’s roster

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 18:05:07 UT

Jaff Decker’s oblique injury could impact shot at A’s roster Jaff Decker was right on the cusp of winning an A’s roster spot, but now an oblique strain might hamper his chance. The implication: beyond that and it might be tough to make the club out of spring. Just two days ago, vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane pointed to Decker as one of the nicest surprises of the spring.



A’s next-in-line young starter Daniel Gossett sent down

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 17:50:13 UT

A’s next-in-line young starter Daniel Gossett sent down Promising young starter Daniel Gossett, who climbed three levels of Oakland’s system last year, was sent to minor-league camp Sunday, but his is a name to keep in mind. “We were really impressed,” manager Bob Melvin said. “I’ve got to get my innings, it makes sense,” he said. Susan Slusser is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.



A’s Joey Wendle out with shoulder soreness

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 02:35:08 UT

Joey Wendle, who came up last September and played well for Oakland, told The Chronicle on Saturday that he has been shut down the past week by a sore right shoulder. Wendle said an MRI exam did not show any structural damage, just inflammation. Wendle has never had a shoulder issue before; he said it began to hurt about two weeks ago and he tried to play through it for a week. The 26-year-old hit .260 in his monthlong call-up last year, including .333 against left-handed pitchers and .304 with runners in scoring position. The overall numbers don’t blow you away offensively, but he got some big hits for us. The A’s unveiled their “Rooted in Oakland” ad campaign Saturday and announced that it will include 122 banners around downtown Oakland and Lake Merritt and an 80-foot mural at 19th and Webster streets. Expected Opening Night starter Kendall Graveman allowed two hits and one run in six innings, walking none and striking out six. The Padres’ run came on a homer by former A’s prospect Dusty Coleman in the third inning. ... The A’s unveiled their “Rooted in Oakland” ad campaign Saturday and announced that it will include 122 banners around downtown Oakland and Lake Merritt and an 80-foot mural at 19th and Webster streets.



Adaptable, affable Trevor Plouffe finds new home with A’s

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 02:33:02 UT

Adaptable, affable Trevor Plouffe finds new home with A’s The A’s new third baseman had no choice but to become proficient at baseball as a child growing up in Castaic (Los Angeles County), because he played up three years to be on a team with his older brother, Marshall. [...] during his long tenure with the Twins, Plouffe turned his lowest professional moment into a triumph, while grabbing inspiration and information everywhere he could. Plouffe, now 30, played all over the place his first few seasons with the Twins: shortstop, second base, some outfield. Gardenhire, now Arizona’s bench coach, credited Plouffe with making himself into a good third baseman, saying, He made himself an everyday player because he worked really hard getting comfortable at third. [...] that he was making strides at third, Plouffe found a mentor both on and off the field in former A’s outfielder Josh Willingham, then in his first season with the Twins. “Hitting at that level can be humbling, humiliating,” Willingham, now retired, said by phone. From May 16 to July 14 in 2012, the two crushed a total of 32 homers, and nine times they homered in the same game, including three games in which they combined for three. Plouffe finished with 24 homers, his career high. “Every good player has a moment in his career where he realizes, ‘OK, I can play up here,’ where he realizes he isn’t overmatched,” Willingham said. Plouffe wound up spending 13 years in the Twins’ organization, his entire career before signing with Oakland as a free agent during the winter. [...] that’s something I’m trying to do this year, show up and be as positive as possible every single day. Gardenhire said he found it strange to see Plouffe in another uniform when the Diamondbacks played the A’s this spring. Plouffe said he thought he’d be with the Twins his entire career, too, but he bears the front office no ill will. Ever ready to acclimate to his circumstances, Plouffe instantly became one of the A’s clubhouse leaders, and despite going 0-for-3 Saturday, he’s batting .346 this spring. “What I like about the craft beer community is you get together and talk about it, it’s a social thing,” Plouffe said. Susan Slusser is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.



A’s Oakland-centric ad campaign officially unveiled

Sat, 18 Mar 2017 18:52:55 UT

With the A’s looking for a new stadium in town, plus the Warriors leaving for San Francisco and the Raiders looking elsewhere, Oakland’s new ad campaign wants to make sure you know which city the A’s call home. “It’s not too suble,” A’s vice president of sales and marketing Jim Leahey said with a smile. “Rooted in Oakland” features commercials shot at Oakland’s City Hall, the Oakland Zoo, Lake Merritt and BART, among other spots, all of them with the light-hearted, entertaining vibe of past ad campaigns from Hub Strategy, but for the first time ever, all of the ads were filmed in the East Bay. The A’s announced Saturday at Hohokam Stadium that 112 flag-pole banners are going up around downtown Oakland and Lake Merritt highlighting the ad campagin, along with an 80-foot mural at 19th and Webster of an elephant carrying the city on its back. Elephant Country - On a visit to the Oakland Zoo, Graveman, Gray, and Healy lose track of Stomper, who became distracted by a new love interest. Out For Run - A leisurely jog around Lake Merritt highlights how everyone on the A’s takes fitness seriously, including players, fans, mascots, and vendors.