Savoring spring, learning faces, Cespedes update, Anderson throws and a nugget on Sonny Gray

   Yes, I’ve arrived at spring training. Excuse my zeal, but the first day in Arizona is always quite a euphoric experience — the sound of the BP bats, stretching, 80 degree temps, girls in shorts, all that good stuff. If you can’t get stoked for spring training, you aren’t human, even if you are an embittered A’s fan right now. C’mon, cheer up. Baseball. It’s baseball. Snap out of it. Doesn’t matter who’s playing it.  It’s the greatest game, and as they say, hope springs eternal — even in Oakland.

 I took my tour of the A’s clubhouse this morning, linking faces with names and pretending not to be too clueless about who everybody is. As it’s going to be for fans, it’s going to take awhile, and I only have four days to get to know everybody as I fill in for Joe Stiglich, who’s taking a little R&R. Weird vibe with no Japanese media around. Weirder still to see Manny Ramirez huddling with young Yoenis Cespedes in the clubhouse so intensively.

 As I predicted a week or so ago in a column, Ramirez is really the only player who can counsel this guy on what he’s in for. Yes, Ariel Prieto is here as a pseudo personal coach/translator/cultural assimilator, but Ariel never hit. He never played the outfield. Ramirez has to be a legend to Cespedes, and the way Manny has been comporting himself so far, that may not be such a bad thing. Almost like having an older brother or maybe an uncle to provide guidance.  Better than nobody as far as getting this guy’s mind right about finally being in America to play baseball. 

Cespedes is still probably 5-6 days away from playing in a spring training game with the A’s, but that could be accelerated depending how he fares against live pitching in the next couple of days.  As casual as the A’s are pretending to be about getting him in a game, you can bet Billy Beane, Bob Melvin and Co. are just as anxious as the rest of us to see this guy in action. He’s been all-world in batting practice, but it’s batting practice. We’ll see how he looks against live pitching in the next day or so, and then go from there.

   Melvin said Cespedes is in great physical shape, but added, “He’s not in baseball shape, in my opinion.” Cespedes hasn’t played in a live game since December, when he logged eight games in the Dominican Republic.

Cespedes was scheduled for another day of routine batting practice and conditioning, and may face some live pitching in the next day or two. Depending on how he looks, he could be in a game by the weekend.

   “Once we feel comfortable where he is physically that he can go out and run around for five innings or so, then we’ll get him in,” he said. “There will certainly be a couple of days where he’s facing pitchers, but whether it’s two or three days of that, he’ll be in a game closely after that.”
    Elsewhere, the A’s will take a look at rotation candidates Tommy Milone and Graham Godfrey today when they play Milwaukee in Maryvale. Melvin said he is uncertain when lefthander Dallas Braden will get in a game, although he is progressing nicely, and doesn’t want to Braden to feel pressure that he needs to be ready once the season starts.
    “I’m treading that one lightly because I don’t want to push him,” Melvin said. “(Dallas) is the kind of guy who if he reads something like that, he’s going to try to push to it. He’s going to have to start throwing breaking balls. It’s basically been fastball-sinker. He hasn’t even thrown his change off a mound yet.”
   Talked with LHP Brett Anderson, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Anderson cleared a major hurdle Tuesday morning when he threw off a mound from the full 60-foot, 6- inches. Anderson threw 25 pitches, all what he said was 60-70 percent velocity, and came out of it sounding enthused.
   “The ball came out of my hand really well,” he said. “It’s weird not having any pain. I kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel. You don’t want to get ahead of yourself, but I feel unbelievable.”
 “Everyone was envisioning potentially August (for Anderson’s return),” Melvin said. “I would caution to say it could be before that, but he’s had no setbacks.”
    Melvin said he has impressed with the performance of the team’s top draft pick, righthanded pitcher Sonny Gray, so far.
    “I don’t envision him starting with us,” Melvin said. “But boy, they say he could be a quick mover.”

Carl Steward

  • marc

    Thanks Carl, keep em coming

  • Stan

    The best hope for the A’s Carl, might be a blue ribbon for shoot’en at bottles at the local fair, then a NL west Pennant.
    But hey-I get ya. Bring on a warm spring,then summer.