Chili Davis, Rickey Henderson (both crouching in front) and Dave Stewart (far right, standing) gather Friday morning with members of the youth baseball team Stewart coaches.
PHOENIX – There’s nothing quite like seeing a few of the old-timers around, especially as one creeps towards old-time status oneself.
So it was nice to run across Rickey Henderson and Dave Stewart today with the A’s. I covered them when they were crucial parts of the A’s championship run 1988-1990 (Rickey didn’t land back in Oakland until 1989, but you get the point).
With the notable exception of reliever Fernando Rodriguez, things are looking up for the A’s on the injury front.
Rodriguez has been diagnosed as having torn his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow. And while he is looking at having a second opinion, the remedy is for him to have Tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery that will force him to miss the entire season.
By John Hickey
PHOENIX – Right-handed reliever Fernando Rodriguez, who came out of his last spring training relief appearance after one pitch, will need Tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery in his right elbow and will miss the 2013 season, the Bay Area News Group has learned.
A’s sources would not confirm the injury, but Oakland is likely to announce the need for surgery Thursday morning.
Rodriguez, who came to the A’s in the trade of first baseman Chris Carter that also netted Oakland shortstop/second baseman Jed Lowrie, is a 28-year-old with a 95-mph fastball.
Rodriguez was pitching in relief Monday against the San Diego Padres in Peoria, but came off the mound after one pitch. He was competing for a job at the end of the A’s bullpen.
He is 4-13 with a 4.89 career ERA and was 2-10 with a 5.37 ERA with the Astros last year.
Carl Steward here (Twitter: @stewardsfolly) filling in one last day for John Hickey …
Happy and expansive, A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes gave a detailed account Tuesday of his whirlwind weekend trip to the Miami area to visit 12 family members who finally arrived in the United States after spending a year in the Dominican Republic trying to get here.
For one thing, Cespedes revealed that the trip was a total surprise to his family, and when he arrived at his offseason home in Boca Raton at 6 a.m., everyone was asleep.
“I turned the radio and TV on and tried to make a big noise,” said Cespedes through interpreter Ariel Prieto. “They wouldn’t wake up. So after that, I started knocking on doors hard and screaming and everything.”
A’s prospect Arnold Leon was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento and Oakland’s minor league camp Monday, his day first back from a wild weekend at the World Baseball Classic in which he incited a full-scale melee between his home country of Mexico and Canada by throwing three pitches to try and purposely hit a batter late in the game.
A’s manager Bob Melvin said Leon’s demotion had nothing to do with the incident that’s still reverberating around the WBC, even though both countries are now eliminated. Melvin said there simply aren’t enough innings available in the major-league camp to keep Leon busy enough.
In his first extended comments since the incident, Leon confirmed he was under orders to deliver a hit-by-pitch when he drilled Canadian hitter Rene Tosoni in the back after Chris Robinson bunted to reach first in the ninth inning with Canada leading by six runs.
Leon maintained his only failure was that he required three pitches as opposed to one to get it done.
“If I had hit him with the first pitch, probably nothing like that would have happened,” he admitted. “It just happened. It’s baseball. Like I said, I just did what I did. You have to do it.”
The sun broke through at Phoenix Muni Sunday, and it finally feels like spring training to me.
First news of the day: A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes was granted leave from the team for a couple of days to travel to Miami, where 14 members of his family who fled Cuba with him in two years ago finally reached the U.S. on Saturday.
Cespedes, who left for Florida Saturday night, has been concerned about his family’s well-being in the Dominican Republic, where they had taken up temporary residence after their defection while the outfielder came to the U.S. to play baseball for Oakland last season.
Cespedes’ mother, along with several cousins and aunts, arrived by ship from Turks and Caico Islands and the player was ecstatic when he heard the news that they were about to arrive in the U.S.
“Big smile on his face … tears, and then smiles,” said manager Bob Melvin.
Carl Steward (Twitter: @stewardsfolly) pinch-hitting for John Hickey the next few days …
It’s always fun to start your spring training relief gig with a trip to Surprise, which is about 45 miles from Phoenix Muni. You pass through the famed retirement community of Sun City, and this year, there’s a new treat for visitors: A mortuary billboard listing actual bargain prices for a cremation ($745) or a full burial ($3,300). I mean, they don’t mess around here when it comes to old age. They cut to the quick. But those seem like excellent prices.
The A’s, who see Seattle ace Felix Hernadnez often enough as it is, won’t see him today.
Hernandez is scheduled to pitch, but with the Mariners having a split-squad games, Seattle manager Eric Wedge opted to send the right-hander to Surprise, Ariz. to face the Royals.
PHOENIX – A’s second baseman Jemile Weeks hasn’t played since landing badly on his shoulder in a collision at second base last Friday, but he hopes to be playing by the end of this weekend.
Scott Sizemore, another combatant for the second base job that belonged to Weeks at this time a year ago, reported to Oakland’s Phoenix Municipal Stadium facility Thursday without a bandage on his left hand, indicating that he’s ready to play for the first time since Sunday.
He’s calling it a “BeardOff,’’ but even A’s right fielder Josh Reddick admits it’s a beard-on.
Reddick, a huge fan of WWE wrestling has taken the challenge of the WWE’s Daniel Bryan to spend the rest of this year growing the fullest and most luxuriant beard possible.
The winner will be voted by fans online and “the loser has to shave it all off,’’ Reddick said Tuesday morning.