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Crisp moving to left field in an effort to stay healthy

Coco Crisp may have a less confrontational relationship with the outfield wall this season as he moves to left field. .

Coco Crisp may have a less confrontational relationship with the outfield wall this season as he moves to left field. .

The A’s are changing the basic structure of their outfield defense, manager Bob Melvin announcing Wednesday morning that Coco Crisp is moving to left field.

Crisp, the club’s center fielder for most of the last five seasons, will get his first Cactus League start of the spring Thursday and will get it in left field, Melvin said. It’s not an entirely unknown position for Crisp, who has played 228 career games in left field while having played 1,091 in center.

When the A’s signed Yoenis Cespedes, also a center fielder, out of Cuba in March of 2012, Crisp was moved to left field in spring training and started the season there, but the A’s didn’t click as an outfield until Cespedes moved to left and Crisp moved to right after coming off the disabled list in early May.

Sam Fuld and Craig Gentry, who were down to platoon in left field, will now platoon in center. Josh Reddick is the lone player not moving. He’ll stay in right field.

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Gentry out of the gate quickly as he puts 2014 behind him

Craig Gentry (3) is off to a far better start this spring than last for A's.

Craig Gentry (3) is off to a far better start this spring than last for A’s.

Craig Gentry is already way ahead of the game, even if the A’s are just one game into spring training.

The Oakland outfielder singled in each of his first two at-bats, stole a base and scored a couple of runs as the A’s beat the Giants 9-4 to open Cactus League play Tuesday.

That’s one more game than Gentry played for the A’s last spring. He came over in a trade from the Rangers, but injured his back before reporting to camp. He went on the disabled list before the spring was out, and missed the entire first homestand of the regular season.

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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.’’

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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).’’

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Hassan could make a nice addition for A’s moving forward

Alex Hassan has been an on-base machine in Red Sox's system, which is why A's wanted to give him a shot.

Alex Hassan has been an on-base machine in Red Sox’s system, which is why A’s wanted to give him a shot.

 

Alex Hassan stepped into the A’s lineup Sunday just hours after getting off a plane from Florida and walked twice in an intrasquad game.

“Two walks – he fits right in here,’’ manager Bob Melvin said.

Oakland has been certain for a while that Hassan would be a good fit in the A’s outfield plans. He can play the corners, and he also can play first base. Offensively, he’s something of an on-base machine with a .287 average last year in Triple-A with a .378 on-base percentage and a .426 slugging percentage.

For his six-year minor league career, the slash line is .291/.396/.436, so it’s small wonder the A’s went after him, claiming Hassan on waivers from the Red Sox on Nov. 17 after Boston ran into a roster crunch and had to put him on waivers.

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A’s lose Coco Crisp for the short term with case of pinkeye

Coco Crisp is out of action for the moment in spring training with a case of pinkeye.

Coco Crisp is out of action for the moment in spring training with a case of pinkeye.

 

The A’s were without Coco Crisp Saturday on photo day and the center fielder could miss a few more days of spring training after having come down with a case of pinkeye.

The hope is that Crisp, who missed more than a week down the stretch of the 2012 season with the same problem, won’t miss as much work this time around.

“We’re hoping we’ve caught it early,’’ manager Bob Melvin said. “He came in with it yesterday and we’ve got him at home now hoping this resolves itself quickly.’’

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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.

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Nunez, Olson hold promise of power in a not-distant future

Matt Olson  (Getty Images)

Matt Olson (Getty Images)

Much has been made about the A’s offense needing to find ways other than home runs to score because the power that has marked Oakland teams of the recent past isn’t in evidence this time around.

That may be true, although Josh Reddick (32 in 2012), Ike Davis (32 in 2012 for the Mets), Billy Butler (29 for the Royals, also in 2012) and Josh Phegley (26 last year, 23 of those in the minor leagues with the White Sox) have at least the promise of the long ball.

What seems clear is that the A’s power shortage may be a short-term thing. Last year at Class-A Stockton, first baseman Matt Olson hit 37 homers and third baseman Renato Nunez hit 29.

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Alvarez no fish out of water in debut spring with A’s

R.J. Alvarez brings explosive fastball and dreams of being in A's bullpen in 2015.

R.J. Alvarez brings explosive fastball and dreams of being in A’s bullpen in 2015.

When you hear that a baseball player was just born to play the game, metaphor is in play.

In the case of A’s relief pitcher R.J. Alvarez, it’s true.

Roy and Susie Alvarez both are baseball fanatics. When their son R.J. (Roy Jr., of course) was born on June 8, 1991 in West Palm Beach, Fla., Roy Sr. met him for the first time with a gift – a baseball glove.

“I think Susie kind of expected it,’’ he said. “We dated in high school, and it was always about baseball.’’

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Nolin’s ongoing pain has him out of rotation mix for now

The A’s will not get a look at left-handed starting pitching candidate Sean Nolin for a while.

Oakland had hoped a flat ground throwing session Saturday would indicate Nolin was ready to throw off a mound following off-season sports hernia surgery.

Manager Bob Melvin said that the throwing did not go well.

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