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Bullpen newcomer Ryan Madson could be a guiding light to Jarrod Parker’s baseball future

As A’s pitcher Jarrod Parker grapples with whether to continue his baseball career after a fourth major arm injury, he really owes it to himself to stop by new teammate Ryan Madson’s locker for a chat before he makes a decision.

Parker doesn’t necessarily have to ask Madson for advice. He simply needs to hear his story, both for his psychological and physical well-being, and perhaps to develop a proper framework to make that decision.

Madson only endured one significant arm injury, not four. But he did spent two fruitless seasons trying to come back from an elbow injury first suffered during spring training in 2012, and frustrated by his efforts to complete a comeback with two different clubs for which he never threw a single pitch, he retired altogether in 2014, bitter and full of self pity.

“I wasn’t on a content path when I was finished in 2012 and 2013 and basically in 2014 when I actually quit,” Madson said. “I was happy at home, but I wasn’t content with the way my career ended and I think that would have haunted me for a long time, not being to overcome my injury.”
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Jarrod Parker and agents mulls medical options after injury and notes on an error-prone loss in Surprise to Rangers

Jarrod Parker and his agents are looking for answer in the wake of his latest injury.

Jarrod Parker and his agents are looking for answer in the wake of his latest injury.

Jarrod Parker is taking the weekend away from the A’s spring training camp to digest the implications of his latest injury, a re-fracture of his right elbow that has put his immediate athletic future in doubt.

Parker will rejoin the A’s on Monday, executive vice president Billy Beane said Saturday morning. Between now and then, Parker will have plenty to think about. He hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2013, during which time he’s had one Tommy John surgery, a couple of elbow fractures and two years filled with almost nothing but injury rehabilitation.

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Chris Coghlan looking forward to being A’s new Zobrist

The A’s tried it the Ben Zobrist way 12 months ago. Now they’re trying it the Chris Coghlan way.

Zobrist is the dean of baseball’s utility players, as at home in right field as at shortstop or second base. As Coghlan, who looks up to Zobrist, says, “there were others before Zo, but he was the one who made it look sexy and cool.’’

Oakland traded Zobrist to Kansas City at the trade deadline last July, and he wound up with the Chicago Cubs in free agency, meaning he and Coghlan, another jack-of-all-trades, were teammates this week for the first time. Then the A’s traded for Coghlan Thursday so `it was cool to play with him … for two days,’’ he said

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Breaking down the A’s roster heading into the spring

A’S ROSTER BREAKDOWN

ROTATION: RHP Sonny Gray, LHP Rich Hill, RHP Kendall Graveman, RHP Chris Bassitt, RHP Jesse Hahn, RHP Henderson Alvarez, RHP Jarrod Parker. The A’s have a deep pool of starters, but beyond the ace, Gray, there resides a deep pool of questions. Hill had a tremendous final month with the Red Sox in 2015 but has to prove he can replicate it for more than four starts and 29 innings.

Alvarez won’t be ready to pitch until May. Parker is healthy but hasn’t pitched in two years thanks to two elbow surgeries. Hahn, Bassitt and Graveman had injury troubles down the stretch in 2015, but they are supposed to be OK. Of particular interest is Hahn, who missed most of the second half of the season and only recently began throwing again. Gray can pitch deep into games. None of the rest have proved they can do the same.

BULLPEN: LHP Sean Doolittle, RHP Ryan Madson, RHP Liam Hendriks, RHP John Axford, LHP Marc Rzepczynski, RHP Fernando Rodriguez, RHP Ryan Dull, LHP Felix Doubront, RHP R.J. Alvarez. The A’s thought their bullpen would be deep and strong last year, but it was neither. So a complete remodel was in order, and the pitchers they brought in have both good recent history and velocity.

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A’s will have to wait and see on recoveries of Crisp, Parker

Coco Crisp is swinging a bat already, but A's don't know what he will be able to give them in 2016.

Coco Crisp is swinging a bat already, but A’s don’t know what he will be able to give them in 2016.

Much of the focus of the A’s in spring training will be on two of the players who weren’t able to make it to FanFest Sunday, left fielder Coco Crisp and right-handed starter Jarrod Parker.

The A’s had been at their best with Crisp leading off in 2011-14, but elbow surgery and neck injuries limited him to just 44 games in 2015, and the A’s don’t know what they can expect from Crisp, who made just one start the final month of the season.

“Coco has already started hitting,’’ A’s manager Bob Melvin said Sunday at the club’s annual FanFest. “But we won’t really know about him until we get to spring training.’’

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Valencia signed for 2016; Reddick, Rodriguez still to go

Danny Valencia has a new one-year deal worth $3.15 million after a couple of big months with Oakland last year.

Danny Valencia has a new one-year deal worth $3.15 million after a couple of big months with Oakland last year.

The A’s struck a deal with third baseman Danny Valencia on a one-year contract worth $3.15 million late Thursday.

The club now has just two arbitration-eligible players unsigned, right fielder Josh Reddick and right-handed reliever Fernando Rodriguez.

Valencia came to the A’s the first week of August when Oakland claimed him off waivers from Toronto. Plans to have him play second base were quickly scuttled, but even more quickly he became an integral part of the A’s offense while splitting time between third base and DH.

He hit safely in his first six games with three doubles, three homers, seven RBIs and a slash line of .391/.462/.913 and for the month of August, those numbers stood at six doubles, five homers, 17 RBIs and a slash line of .305/.356/.561.

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Henderson’s passing reminds us of baseball’s mortality

Dave Henderson is all smiles while signing for A's fans in 2000.

Dave Henderson is all smiles while signing for A’s fans in 2000.

I got a chance to connect with some of the guys I grew up with Sunday.

At the other end of the phone were Dave Stewart, Dennis Eckersley, Rickey Henderson, Mark McGwire, Sandy Alderson, Terry Steinbach and Tony La Russa.

This isn’t a case of dropping names here. These are some of the guys I talked to after the news came out that Dave Henderson, center fielder par excellence for the A’s from 1988-93 had died in Seattle at 57 of a massive heart attack.

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Teammates salute Dave Henderson, dead too soon at 57

Rickey Henderson (24) Dave Stewart and Dave Henderson (42).

Rickey Henderson (24) Dave Stewart and Dave Henderson (42).

Dave Henderson’s ever-present gap-toothed grin symbolized the joy with which he lived, and that’s what teammates remembered Sunday upon the news that the longtime A’s center fielder died of a massive heart attack in Seattle. He was 57.

“I never saw him have a bad day,’’ first baseman Mark McGwire said. `He’d strike out, and he’d come back to the dugout flashing that gap-toothed grin. He loved to play the game. He was a beautiful man.’’

Henderson joined the A’s in 1988 as just another player in a massive roster reorganization orchestrated by general manager Sandy Alderson, but as the former A’s general manager and current Mets’ GM said, “he was incredibly important to the run of success we had in those years.’’

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Ex-A’s star Dave Henderson gone too soon at 57

Outfielder Dave Henderson, the former first-round pick of the Seattle Mariners who became an All-Star and World Series champion as part of the core of the 1989 Oakland A’s, died Sunday at 57.

Henderson had a kidney transplant about a month ago, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today,

Henderson hit one of the most dramatic home runs in post-season history, a two-out, two-strike ninth-inning bomb in the American League Championship Series that helped get Boston into the World Series.

Two years later after a 15-game stay with the 1987 Giants, Henderson signed with the A’s just before the Winter Meetings and had his best year on the 104-win A’s team with a .304/.363/.525 monster season that included 25 homers and 38 doubles.

The owner of an almost ever-present gap-toothed grin, Henderson grew up in Dos Palos southwest of Merced and was a multiple-sport star at Dos Palos High before signing with the Mariners as the 26th pick in the in 1977 draft.

He made it to the big leagues in 1981 and spent six seasons as a fixture in the Mariner outfielder before being traded to Boston in August of 1986. The acquisition seemed to be a flop when he hit just .186 in 36 games, but Henderson wrote his way into Red Sox lore with his Game 5 off the Angels’ Donnie Moore with California one strike away from its first-ever pennant.

The Red Sox came back to win the game and the series.

After the game, Henderson said “everybody talks about the pressure on me for that at-bat, but there was no pressure.’’

“Defensive replacements aren’t supposed to hit closer,’’ he said. “(Angels’ manager) Gene Mauch caught a lot of flak for changing pitchers, but any manager would take that matchup 100 percent of the time.

“Donnie Moore against a defensive replacement who had five at-bats in two weeks? You gotta go with those odds. They’re in the Angels’ favor. Basically I was looking for a way to get back to our dugout after striking out.’’

Henderson would go on to be at his best in the post season with a slash line of .298/.376/.570 in 151 post-season at-bats.

He had some trouble getting national notice with the 1988-92 A’s loaded with stars, but his connection with fans was strong.

“Hendu’s Bad Boy Club’’ was a fixture in center field at the Coliseum from 1988-93, and occasionally he would spend time with its members after game. He made the All-Star team for the first and only time in 1991 with 18 homers and a slash line of .298/.378/.551 for the first half of a season when the A’s were struggling with injuries.

He played with the A’s through 1993, played the 1994 season in Kansas City then retired at 35, moving back to the Puget Sound after that. He did some radio and television work after that for the Mariners and his engaging personality made him a hit.

He never worked full time as a broadcaster, preferring instead to pick and choose his appearances, but Mariners fans found his insights and personality a winner.

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Alonso’s on-base percentage, defense at 1B intrigued A’s; Pomeranz surprised to leave, but happy for opportunity

Yonder Alonso moves from Padres to A's with Wednesday's trade that sends Drew Pomeranz to San Diego

Yonder Alonso moves from Padres to A’s with Wednesday’s trade that sends Drew Pomeranz to San Diego

In a prelude to what might be an active session at the winter meetings for them, the A’s traded for a long-coveted target Wednesday, landing slick fielding first baseman Yonder Alonso from the San Diego Padres.

The A’s also added left-handed situational reliever Marc Rzepczynski in the deal while sending big league lefty Drew Pomeranz, Class-A left-hander Jose Torres and a player to be named later to the Padres.

While the A’s traditionally go for power and on-base percentage from first basemen when they can, Oakland general manager David Forst and his boss, Billy Beane, have long liked Alonso for other qualities, including a glove that, Forst says, might be as good as any in the business.

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