Chavez takes same approach in effort to win starter’s job

Jesse Chavez gets Wednesday's start, hoping to pitch his way back into the A's rotation.

Jesse Chavez gets Wednesday’s start, hoping to pitch his way back into the A’s rotation.

Jesse Chavez’s spring setup hasn’t changed, even if everything else has.

In the space of a year, the right-handed pitcher went from the A’s bullpen to the starting rotation, then back to the bullpen. He became a starter due to injuries to Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, lost his job after 21 starts when the A’s traded for Jon Lester, and now has a chance to start again.

Chavez, who starts Game 2 of the Cactus League season against the Giants Wednesday in Scottsdale, could have blamed the Lester trade for losing his job. He didn’t. He blamed himself.

“It wasn’t a case of the job being taken away,’’ he said. “It was a case of I didn’t hold it. I shouldn’t have put the team in a position to doubt me.’’

The A’s had no early doubt. In Chavez’s first 18 starts, Oakland went 13-5 and he was 7-5 with a 3.06 ERA with hitters averaging just .248 against him. Then came a three-game July stretch against the Mariners once and the Astros twice in which he went 1-2 with a 5.94 ERA while his opponents’ average leaped to .279. He also allowed four homers, three of those against the Astros in Houston on July 28. Three days later came the trade for Lester.

“I think it came down to those three starts, a couple of bad innings,’’ Chavez said. “The three homers against the Astros was the really bad one.’’

Mare than that, there was a belief that Chavez, who’d most been a reliever for the previous decade after signing with the Rangers, was wearing down. Twelve of his first 18 starts saw him go at least six innings. Only one of his last four met that standard.

“That was the problem,’’ he said. “I was going from getting us into the seventh inning to struggling to get into the sixth.’’

So Wednesday’s start is a new beginning, although as A’s manager Bob Melvin said, “whether he had a job locked up or he was trying to win one, Chavvy would have the same all-out approach.’’

“The chance to be a starter is there,’’ Chavez said. “For me, I just approach it like last year when I was trying to just win a spot on the staff. I’m always going to pitch like I’m pitching to win a job.’’


Parker adds curve as he gets closer to facing hitters

Jarrod Parker is getting closer to facing live hitters after adding a curve in bullpen session Tuesday.

Jarrod Parker is getting closer to facing live hitters after adding a curve in bullpen session Tuesday.

Jarrod Parker broke out his curve in one of his twice-weekly bullpen sessions Tuesday as he used his full repertoire for the first time since his Tommy John surgery 49 weeks ago.

Or at least as full a repertoire as he’s likely to throw this season as he gets over having the ligament replaced in his right arm.

“It was 43 pitches, fastballs, changeups and curves,’’ Parker said. “The slider? Not yet. If I wait it’ll come back. And it’s no big deal if I don’t throw it this year.’’

The slider takes more of a bite out of the arm as it heals, and Parker isn’t ready to go down that route. He’s had two Tommy John surgeries now, and caution is his byword.

“I’m going to be cautious with the slider; I’m more comfortable with the curve, the right-hander said. “There’s more of a hand motion in throwing the curve. The slider puts more strain (on the transplanted area).’’

Continue Reading


A’s look at Viciedo after taking Hassan in waiver claim; Butler/Reddick team wins Friday’s situational hitting trophy; Crisp enters ditigal age with Coco’s Fro Patrol app for iPhone

A's Billy Butler, left, and Josh Reddick walk off the field with winning trophy from today's situational hitting competition (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)

A’s Billy Butler, left, and Josh Reddick walk off the field with winning trophy from today’s situational hitting competition (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)

It seems that the A’s are in the market for a little more pop in the person of outfielder/third baseman Dayan Viciedo.

That’s the word from Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, two days after the Chicago White Sox signed infielder Gordon Beckham and designated Viciedo for assignment. Chicago has 10 days to trade or release Viciedo.

Going after Viciedo makes a bit of sense from the A’s point of view. He hit 21 homers for the Sox last year and 25 three years ago. Oakland is in a bit of a power vacuum with the losses over the last seven months of Brandon Moss, Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes.

Vicideo, a right-handed hitter, could fill in as the left fielder over the current pairing of Sam Fuld and Craig Gentry, but the A’s defense would take a hit. And the offense would, too, because Viciedo doesn’t walk much and his .294 on-base percentage over the last three years offsets the 60 homers he’s hit in that spell.

But he is young, just 25, so he seems to have some upside the A’s find appealing. The Blue Jays reportedly also have some interest.

Earlier in the day Oakland did make a roster claim, adding outfielder Alex Hassan from the Orioles and put Griffin on the 60-day disabled list to make room.

The A’s had claimed Hassan from the Red Sox on Nov. 17, but lost him to a claim from Baltimore about a week later.

Hassan, who made his big league debut with the Sox last year by going 1-for-8, hit .287 with a .378 on-base percentage at Triple-A last year. He also had a .326 slugging percentage.


–The A’s had an atypical day Friday, skipping batters vs. pitchers and closing out with a situational hitting.

The win went to a team led by Billy Butler and Josh Reddick, the winners walking off Field 1 at Fitch Park with a trophy of sorts – a coffee maker and an MC Hammer bobblehead cobbled together by minor league hitting coordinator Greg Sparks.

Butler put the trophy above his locker after the workout.

“We struggled in situational hitting last year,’’ manager Bob Melvin said. He said that Ike Davis was “perfect when I saw him,’’ and added that Butler, Reddick, Fuld and Gentry all had good days.

“That’s something I can do,’’ Davis said. “You give up some outs, and that hurts your batting average, but it’s OK as long as it helps the team.’’


–Coco Crisp took a step into the digital world Thursday night, launching a game app for iPhones call Coco’s Fro Patrol.

The idea is to catch as many fly balls in the outfield as possible while dodging obstacles including gum and trash cans.

He got 150-plus viewers overnight, including former A’s first baseman Daric Barton, who ranks third on the early leaderboard. Crisp is first; his mother ranked fifth early in the day Friday.

“I could have launched it last year, but I wanted to make it as perfect as possible,’’ Crisp said. The concept was his, although he needed the help of web designers to get the program off the ground. “I know there will be some people who will find little faults with it, but it’s starting in a good place.’’

The game is free, although there is the possibility of expenditures depending on how fast and how deep into the game a player wants to get. The player gets one free “umpire’’ per day, while more can be purchased.

Crisp is a longtime gamer who has been trying to pick up college-level programing classes the last couple of years.

Some of his A’s teammates, who learned about the launch Thursday and Friday, were experimenting with it Friday morning.


–Saturday and Sunday see the A’s scheduled for back-to-back intrasquad games, but there is a good chance of rain, particularly on Sunday.

–Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin and Raul Alcantara threw bullpen sessions Friday while the rest of the staff took the day off from bullpens. All three seemed to come through the process well, although Griffin has a bruise on his left (non-throwing wrist).

–Jason Pridie, the only non-roster outfielder in camp before Hassan was claimed Friday, figures to get plenty of spring starts with the A’s looking to have Coco Crisp ease slowly into playing shape. Oakland figures Crisp only needs a couple of nine-inning games to be ready for the season. Also likely to get outfield time are infielders Tyler Ladendorf, Alden Carrithers, Matt Olson and Andy Parrino.

–The A’s signed a new four-year radio deal with 95. FM The Game that will see the A’s games broadcast there through the 2018 season. The A’s have been on 95.7 since 2011.


Chavez’s `mid-season form’ in spring debut impresses Melvin

Jesse Chavez starts this year as he did last year, feeling he has something to prove to the A's.

Jesse Chavez starts this year as he did last year, feeling he has something to prove to the A’s.

Here’s what A’s manager Bob Melvin said about Jesse Chavez’s first session throwing off a mound in camp Friday:

“He looks in mid-season form every time I ever see him,’’ Melvin said, “whether he’s throwing bullpen, or in a game early. Impressive. He’s a very focused kid who comes here with the mindset he has something to prove. That’s always what you like to see.’’

Twelve months ago he said virtually the same thing and Chavez went out and won a job in the starting rotation after beginning the spring with 12.2 scoreless innings in the Cactus League.

Chavez will have something to prove again. Last year he got an unexpected chance to start when Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin went down with season-ending Tommy John surgeries. Chavez lost his job in the rotation after 21 starts in which he posted a 3.44 ERA as the A’s traded for veteran starter Jon Lester at the trade deadline.

Continue Reading


A’s likely not done dealing after Norris exits for two arms

The trade of Derek Norris brings two good arms into the A's camp and leaves open more possible moves.

The trade of Derek Norris brings two good arms into the A’s camp and leaves open more possible moves.

You have to wonder what’s next for the A’s.

Billy Beane & Co. have spent the last six weeks stocking up on young talent, most of it pitching, including right-handed starter Jesse Hahn and right-handed reliever J.R. Alvarez who are the newest additions with Derek Norris having been traded to the Padres Thursday night.

Already five of the seven players the A’s had at the All-Star Game this season are off the roster, and as Norris told me Thursday night, it seems like the A’s “are looking to rebuild’’ heading into 2015.

Norris may be right about that, but it seems more than a little possible that Beane is loading up for one big swing between now and the start of spring training. With Matt Kemp off the block now, the biggest bats known to be available are outfielder Justin Upton of the Braves and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies.

Continue Reading


A’s did well to get to post-season given their injury issues

Sean Doolittle's intercostal strain, putting him out for 18 games in August and September, rattled the A's bullpen.

Sean Doolittle’s intercostal strain, putting him out for 18 games in August and September, rattled the A’s bullpen.

Had they advanced to the American League Division Series against the Angels, the A’s likely would have been heavy underdogs.

That has nothing to do with how the A’s played the Angels this season, but because of the personnel Oakland would be able to put on the field.

Center fielder Coco Crisp suffered a hamstring injury not long before the A’s suffered a 9-8, 12-inning loss to the Royals in Kansas City. Catcher Geovany Soto jammed his thumb in the first inning and had to come out of the game in the third.

Manager Bob Melvin said Wednesday the injuries were not short-term.

“We would have had to go without Coco and without Soto in the next round if we’d gotten that far,’’ Melvin said.

Continue Reading


A’s catch big break with news Cook isn’t headed for surgery

#A's setup man Ryan Cook got some good news -- he doesn't need surgery

#A’s setup man Ryan Cook got some good news — he doesn’t need surgery

A’s reliever Ryan Cook said there was never a doubt in his mind that the forearm pain he was feeling was not serious.

He might have been the only one. Forearm pain in hard-throwing pitchers is generally the precursor to Tommy John-style surgery where a ligament from the arm or a leg is attached in the elbow.

It means a recovery period of 12-15 months, and losing the hard-throwing Cook for that period of time would have been a severe blow to the Oakland bullpen.

And there were expectations that he might well be on his way to join teammates Jarod Parker and A.J. Griffin as members of the A’s Tommy John club for 2014.

Continue Reading


Griffin looking missing a year after Tommy John surgery

A.J. Griffin had season-ending elbow surgery Wednesday in Houston.

A.J. Griffin had season-ending elbow surgery Wednesday in Houston.

Look for Oakland starting pitcher A.J. Griffin to need about 12 months or a little longer to get back on the mound for the A’s after he underwent Tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery Tuesday in Houston.

Griffin had Houston-based Dr. Thomas Mehlhoff take a tendon from his right wrist transplant it into place of his right ulnar collateral ligament. A’s trainer Nick Paparesta said Mehlhoff was “excited’’ about how well the surgery had gone.

The plan now is for Griffin to take four months off without throwing, then spend two months throwing on the side to build up his arm strength. At about the six-month post Griffin should start throwing off the mound. At or about the 12-month mark the A’s will start to think in terms of having him face competition.

Continue Reading


A’s learn they will be minus surgery-bound Griffin for 2014

A.J. Griffin will have season-ending elbow surgery Wednesday in Houston.

A.J. Griffin will have season-ending elbow surgery Wednesday in Houston.


The A’s have lost a second member of the 2014 starting rotation to elbow surgery with the news that A.J. Griffin will undergo elbow surgery Wednesday in Houston.

Griffin was in Houston Tuesday to see Dr. Thomas Mehlhoff for a second opinion on the state of his elbow. Dr. Mehlhoff will perform the elbow surgery, with a typical recovery time of about 12 months, depending on the type of surgery involved.

A’s manager Bob Melvin said he wasn’t sure of the type of surgery that would be needed (Tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery is considered the likeliest option) but said he’d talked to Griffin and said the right-hander was taking the news in a positive way.

“He’s a happy-go-lucky guy,’’ the manager said. “This means he can see the light at the end of the tunnel to be able to pitch next season.’’

Griffin and Jarrod Parker both were supposed to be members of the rotation this year, but both found they couldn’t go forward pitching in pain mid-March, and Parker had surgery shortly thereafter. Griffin was told that three weeks of rest might get his right elbow back in form, but it didn’t happen.

Continue Reading


A’s shoot down report a decision has been made on Griffin

The internet lit up for a while Friday with a report saying the A’s had decided that starting pitcher A.J. Griffin was going to undergo Tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery in his right arm.

The A’s were quick to shoot it down.

The club announced just Thursday that Griffin was going to visit Houston-based Dr. Thomas Mehlhoff Tuesday to have a second opinion on his right flexor tendon which has been slow to heal even after almost a month of rest.

Continue Reading