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Chili looking forward to life in Boston with Cespedes, but he’s confident A’s offense will be productive again in 2014

Chili Davis looking forward to working with Red Sox, but confident A's offense will do well without him.

Chili Davis looking forward to working with Red Sox, but confident A’s offense will do well without him.

Outgoing batting coach Chili Davis said the A’s made a good effort to try and keep him in the organization, but when Oakland couldn’t go to three years on a contract the way Boston did, that started him on the path to joining the Red Sox.

Length of contract was important, but it wasn’t the only reason he’s in Boston. There were expectations that he’d go to the Yankees, but he’d worked in the minor leagues with Boston before joining the A’s under manager Bob Melvin three years ago, and that held some sway, too.

“The A’s tried, but it just wasn’t sufficient,’’ Davis said told this newspaper Monday. “I wanted to know I would be somewhere more than two years.

“Everybody had me going to Yankees because I played there,’’ Davis said. “It was strong for me, knowing (GM Brian) Cashman and (manager Joe) Girardi. What really pulled me the other way was that I had worked for the Red Sox and I was familiar with some of the staff and a lot of the players.’’

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With Chili heading to Red Sox, A’s have 2 open coaching slots

The Red Sox have lured Chili Davis away from the A's to be Boston's new batting coach.

The Red Sox have lured Chili Davis away from the A’s to be Boston’s new batting coach.

The A’s will have to make room for two new coaches heading into 2015 with Chili Davis having agreed to move to the Boston Red Sox Sunday as the new batting coach.

The A’s had already lost their bench coach when Chip Hale left last week to take over as manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The A’s likely will move quickly to find a replacement for Davis. One highly qualified candidate would be Dave Magadan, who spent the last couple of years coaching the Texas Rangers. With the hiring of a new manager, Jeff Bannister, all Rangers coaches have been told they are free to explore other options.

Two men who have been hitting coaches before for A’s manager bob Melvin when he managed the Arizona Diamondbacks might be of interest. Rich Schu is the current Washington Nationals batting coach and Kevin Seitzer is the batting coach with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Melvin also worked well in 2004 with Paul Molitor as his batting coach in Seattle, but both men were fired at the end of the season. Molitor is a coach with the Minnesota Twins currently.

Looking in house, minor league roving hitting instructor Marcus Jensen might get a look, as might Triple-A hitting coach Greg Sparks and Double-A hitting coach Webster Garrison.

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Yankees to interview Chili Davis for vacant batting coach slot

The Yankees have A's batting coach Chili Davis on their radar.

The Yankees have A’s batting coach Chili Davis on their radar.

Chili Davis, the A’s hitting coach the last three seasons, will fly to New York in the near future for an interview with the Yankees about taking the vacant job in the Bronx, this newspaper has learned.

Davis, who spent the last two years of his playing career with the Yankees, is one of the prime candidates for the open Yankees batting coach position.

Davis said in an email that he’d gotten a call from the Yankees and would be heading soon to New York for an interview.

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A’s: Verlander’s velocity dropoff not slowing him down

So what does Wednesday’s clash between the A’s and Detroit starter Justin Verlander mean if the A’s and the Tigers meet again in the post-season?

A third consecutive meeting is a reasonable possibility. After all, Oakland and Detroit lead their respective divisions now, and it’s not clear that either has a sufficiently powerful divisional opponent to change that between now and October.

Last August the A’s hit Verlander. Last October, he dominated them.

Verlander isn’t the same now as then. Even with Wednesday’s win, he’s only 7-7 with a 4.71 ERA. Scouts say he doesn’t throw as hard. The A’s reached him for nine hits and were on the verge of knocking him out of the game, but he persevered.

And Oakland hitters say they’d expect no less in a rematch, reduced velocity or not.

“It’s definitely weird seeing him pitch in the upper 80s and low 90s,’’ A’s catcher Derek Norris said. “I’m used to the guy who reaches back and all of a sudden it’s 97 at your hands. But that is the transitions guys have to make as they get older. You see guys like (the Giants’ Tim) Lincecum doing the same thing.

“Verlander still throws the ball well. He keeps you off-balance. He mixes his pitches. He still pitches. He’s going to be tough.’’

A’s batting coach Chili Davis said the numbers don’t tell the whole story with Verlander, who just eight months ago struck out 10 A’s batters in eight innings in as dominating a Game 5 as Oakland ever wants to see thrown at it.

There was none of that Wednesday, just a solid six-inning performance that, coupled with A’s pitching breakdowns, did in Oakland.

“He’s become more finesse than power,’’ Davis said. “When he came into the majors, he was known as a power pitcher. He still has a good arm – he just didn’t pitch the same way (Wednesday).’’

How does a power pitcher make the change? In a two-decade career, Davis saw plenty who did, and he’s seeing it in Verlander. The right-hander is only 31, but he’s thrown the most pitches by far of any pitcher in the big leagues the last few years.

“He throws sliders to righties, changes and curves to lefties, shows the fastball up, tries to get strikes on the outer part of the plate, gets two strikes every once in a while and tries to surprise you inside,’’ Davis said. “And that’s pretty much what I saw today,” Davis said. “Hitters know he can get his fastball to 97. But are they strikes? Numbers will say his fastball is 91 to 97, but he doesn’t pitch at 97. He pitches 88-to-93, and if I’m a hitter, that’s what I’m looking for.

“I think he can keep winning games. The fastball is going to move; it’s not going to be straight. You might see the curve a little more often. As pitchers evolve, they’re learning new pitches, they’re learning hitters. He’s going to mix it up a lot more now. I’m not saying that’s bad. He’s still a presence on the mound, and guys have to respect his ability to get you out. He’s just evolving into a certain type of pitcher.’’

Brandon Moss’s day Wednesday might suggest that Verlander can be had, at least a little. Moss was 11-for-18 career against Verlander – 11 strikeouts, that is. On Wednesday he homered, singled and doubled while Verlander was on the mound, although the single was just a blooper that fell in left field where no defender was guarding against him.

Moss said it was wrong to dismiss Verlander’s potential impact. He looked back to last August, when Verlander’s power seemed to be on the wane a bit, again to last October, when the man who throws bullets reappeared.

“When he gets guys on base, he can dial it up to 97,’’ Moss said. “He’s a finesse pitcher with a power package.

“For most top-line starters, there’s a regular-season version and there’s a playoff version. We know that about him. He’s done well against us in the regular season, but in the playoffs, he’s going to be dominant.’’

It will be time for the A’s to step up their game.

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Reddick resurgence prepares him for this Fenway visit

Josh Reddick

Josh Reddick (16) is riding high as he and the A’s head into Fenway Park this weekend

Josh Reddick returns this weekend to where it all started for him in a professional sense, Fenway Park, as the A’s visit the Red Sox for three games.

Actually, Reddick got a jump on the Fenway experience by using the A’s off-day Thursday to drop by as the Red Sox played a day-night doubleheader necessitated by a Wednesday rainout.

Reddick reappearance in Fenway happens just as he seems to be getting his game track back on course. He hit 32 homers for the A’s in 2012, the year after Boston traded him to Oakland in order to get its hands on reliever Andrew Bailey. The 2013 season was a wash thanks to Reddick’s season-long wrist injury, but when he led the A’s in RBIs during spring training, it seemed his bat had resurfaced.

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Chili has no worries Cespedes will be a force for A’s in 2014

Yoenis Cespedes is in quest of the perfect hybrid swing

Yoenis Cespedes is in quest of the perfect hybrid swing

(UPDATE POSTGAME)

 

A’s batting coach Chili Davis spent his usual Sunday morning in the batting cage working with eight or 10 of the club’s hitters, whoever wandered by over the course of 90 minutes.

One of those was, as is almost always the case, left fielder Yoenis Cespedes. Davis had Cespedes hit off a tee, then tee off on some underhand flips from Davis behind a screen.

After Cespedes, who has spent the spring trying to turn a long swing into a short one, was done and things were dying down, Davis turned to me and asked, “Why is everyone so concerned about Cespedes?’’

I said a .130 spring batting average will do that, and Davis just shook his head.

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Davis could be appealing to M’s as next skipper

The A’s have had a rather easy time of it this year.

The players have been happy with the manager and the front office. The manager has balanced the players’ needs with the front office’s desires. And the front office has had no reason to complain about much of anything.

It’s not like that in much of baseball, however. The A’s are going to the playoffs. Two-thirds of Major League teams won’t be. One of those is Seattle, and the Mariners made the kind of news Friday that losing teams make entirely too often.

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Game 122 wrapup: A’s in better shape, but worse, too, with 40 games to play; Reddick’s cannon a thing of beauty; Sogard’s superior skill at shortstop

After 122 games last year, the A’s were five games behind Texas, so it’s clearly better that after 122 games this season Oakland trails the Rangers by just 1.5 games.

Right?

Well, maybe.

At this point last year, the A’s had clearly turned a corner. After a stretch of four losses in five games, the A’s had gone 5-1 in Games 117-122. They would only lose 12 of their final 40 games.

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Game 73 wrapup: A’s are in Darvish’s head; Moss finally has his swing the way he wants it

Chili Davis liked to play mind games when he was a player, and that hasn’t changed since he’s become a coach.

Asked what it was that his hitters have done to win four of five decisions against Texas ace Yu Darvish, Davis just smiled.

“I think we’re in his mind more than he’s in our minds,’’ Davis said.

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