Andrew Lambo doesn’t invite the comparison, but his arrival in Oakland has some striking parallels with that of Brandon Moss five years ago.
Both came aboard at low cost because of a miserable season the year before. Moss had just six big league at-bats in 2011 with the Phillies despite 23 homers and 80 RBI at Triple-A. He wouldn’t come up to the big leagues with Oakland until the middle of 2012, but once he did, he was in the middle of the A’s lineup, hitting 76 homers and driving in 220 runs in the next 2½ seasons.
First baseman Ike Davis figures to settle in as the No. 5 man in the A’s batting order.
Ask Bob Melvin, and the A’s manager will tell you that he hasn’t announced the makeup of the middle part of his lineup.
He hasn’t, not in so many words. But Ben Zobrist has made 14 starts, including Thursday against the Giants, and he’s been the No. 3 hitter 14 times.
Billy Butler has made 15 starts, and 15 times he’s been the cleanup hitter.
Ike Davis missed some time thanks to a back injury so has only made nine starts, but six of them have seen him bat fifth. He has batted fourth when he’s played and Butler hasn’t.
In the four games in which they’ve all been in the lineup at the same time, Zobrist has batted third, Butler fourth and Davis fifth four times. Melvin may not be speaking with his voice but he’s shouting with the pen that writes out his lineups.
Sean Doolittle will start the season on the disabled list, and with Ryan Cook sent to Triple-A, A’s bullpen will have a different look to start 2015.
The A’s came into the spring with a surplus of bullpen arms, but February and March have whittled down at the A’s excess, although not to the point where manager Bob Melvin is particularly worried.
First the A’s learned that shoulder problems would mean that Sean Doolittle, their lefty closer, wouldn’t be able to start the season with the club. Doolittle is getting closer to playing catch, but he’s unlikely to be ready to be competitive before May.
And on Tuesday, 2012 All-Star Ryan Cook was sent to Triple-A Nashville’s roster, meaning he won’t be eligible to be in the big leagues, barring injury to someone else, for the first 10 days of the season.
Ryan Cook says he’s trying to get his fingers more on top of the ball to drive it lower in the strike zone.
It’s good to be a veteran, as the A’s Ryan Cook attested Tuesday.
On Monday he gave up three runs in two innings as his bloated spring ERA settled in at 16.88.
The 2012 All-Star took a matter-of-fact look at the situation.
“If I wasn’t a veteran,’’ he said, “I might not be here right now.’’
Instead of being shipped down to the minor league camp, which would be the fate of a rookie, he’s getting time to work out his issues, spending time with pitching coach Curt Young. He’s healthy and he’s feeling stronger than he has in a couple of years, and he has the advantage of not making himself crazy about his mid-spring struggles.
Jesse Hahn is on the verge of starting the season in the A’s rotation, as is another newcomer, Kendall Graveman
It’s going to be probably another week or so before manager Bob Melvin announces his starting rotation.
The holdovers from last year, Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir, are locks, but the makeup of the rest of the rotation is up for grabs, they tell us. But is it?
It’s looking increasingly as if both Jesse Hahn and Kendall Graveman have pitched their way onto the staff. That likely would mean Drew Pomeranz also is in and Jesse Chavez is due to be the long man in the bullpen.
In the cases of Hahn and Graveman, the deeper they get into the spring, the better they look. Manager Bob Melvin used the word “terrific’’ in describing Hahn on Saturday, then came back with “we haven’t seen him struggle yet’’ when talking about Graveman Sunday.
Josh Reddick says his WWE championship belt, a gift from Tiple-H, is among his most prized possessions.
A’s right fielder Josh Reddick had this coming weekend all planned out.
“I looked at the WWE schedule when they announced WrestleMania was going to be in Santa Clara,’’ he said. “It’s always the end of March. And we’re always home then for the Bay Bridge Series. It was going to work out perfect.’’
For Reddick, such a huge WWE fan that he has a championship belt given to him by his favorite wrestler, Triple-H, perfection did not come as expected.
“I looked at our spring schedule and this year we’re a week late,’’ he said Sunday morning. The A’s won’t open the season until April 6 at home against Texas, so the three-game Bay Bridge meetup with the Giants won’t happen until April 2-4, the better part of a week after WrestleMania comes to Levis Stadium on March 29.
Reddick grew up as a wrestling fan in Georgia got away from it for a while, but got back into about seven years ago. He numbers Triple-H among his friends, has gotten plenty of time behind stage at WWE events, and he had a brief “beard-off’’ with the WWE’s Daniel Bryan, Bryan winning and shaving Reddick’s beard after the 2013 season.
Ryan Cook has been rocked his last two times out, but he says that’s “just baseball” and adds he’s feeling good.
Monday was a tough day for Ryan Cook.
He faced seven hitters and got one of them out. Trying to protect a 4-2 lead in the eighth inning in Glendale against the Dodgers, he gave up four hits, walked one and hit a batter. One of the hits was a grand slam from Los Angeles’s Darnell Sweeney.
All in all, not a great day.
Spring training can be forgiving however. Much more so than the regular season.
New Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said he didn’t get a question from the A’s players or staff about the state of the Oakland Coliseum when he met with them Monday morning in Hohokam Stadium.
The question was brought up by the media subsequently, however, and Manfred said it was an important issue but didn’t have much of substance to say about it.
Manfred did say that he would not go the route of former commissioner Bud Selig with his infamous “blue ribbon committee,’’ approach to dealing with the problems of the half-century old facility on the Nimitz Freeway.
And he said that after labor issues and time of game issues, getting the A’s settled long term in a new facility was at the top of his list, “in the top five,’’ he said.
He declined to talk about San Jose as a possibility for the club, saying the issue is “under ongoing litigation,’’ and seemed unlikely to use the best interests of baseball powers with comes with his office to deal with the problems of the aging, rickety Coliseum.
“I’ve talked with Lew (A’s owner Lew Wolff). I’ve met with Lew and the Fishers (John Fisher holds about an 80 percent stake in the club),’’ Manfred said. “I’ve talked with the new mayor (Oakland’s Libby Schaaf).
“Stadium issues are fundamentally local issues. The owner has the feel of the pulse there. MLB’s job is to be supportive.’’
Asked about the tensions between the A’s and the Coliseum’s other tenant, the Raiders, he said “the two issues are separate.’’
There are plans that would have one team or the other develop the existing Coliseum land for a new facility, although nothing is firm.
Manfred went on to say that it’s “important for the A’s to get a resolution.’’
Sonny Gray will start opener for the A’s April 6, his second consecutive opening day start.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, Sonny Gray will be the A’s opening day starting pitcher.
Gray will be the first man to start consecutive opening days for Oakland in a decade, and it says something strong about the 25-year-old that he’s being according the honor.
“He’s made for this,’’ manager bob Melvin said in making the announcement Monday morning, shortly after making it official with Gray. “He’s talented and a real competitor. He loves the spotlight.’’
The A’s first-round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2011, Gray made it to the big leagues in the middle of the 2012 season, going 5-3 with a 2.67 ERA. More significantly, the A’s saw enough from him that he was given the start in Game 5 of the American League Division Series over 18-game winner Bartolo Colon.
Billy Burns is hitting .441 this spring as the switch-hitter bids to buck the odds and make the A’s roster.
One way to beat the odds is to beat up opposing pitchers, and A’s outfielder Billy Burns is doing just that.
He had two more hits and a sacrifice fly Sunday in the A’s 5-2 win over the Brewers in Maryvale Park. That leaves him with a .441 batting average and a team-best 10 runs scored.
The starting outfield is filled with Coco Crisp in left, Josh Reddick, assuming he’s healthy by opening day, in right and Sam Fuld and Craig Gentry splitting time in center field.
Should the A’s need a fifth outfielder, they’d likely go to Mark Canha, who is a Rule 5 player who will have to be offered back to the Marlin if Oakland doesn’t keep him on the 25-man roster all season.
Against that Burns has just been at ease. The switch-hitter lead the club in games played, at-bats, hits (15) and batting average. And Burns, who converted to switch-hitting only after turning pro four years ago, is being noticed.