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Zito, Crisp take center stage today for A’s vs. Cubs

Barry Zito's gets his first Cactus League start Thursday against the Cubs.

Barry Zito’s gets his first Cactus League start Thursday against the Cubs.

It’s a quiet morning in Mesa with only a little bit of news coming out of A’s camp

That figures to change this afternoon as former Cy Young Award winner Barry Zito makes his fist Cactus League start of the spring in what he hopes will be a first step toward winning a job in the A’s rotation.

And Coco Crisp will start in left field, marking his move there from center field, his home for most of his big league career.

Zito has a long road to go to make the A’s rotation. The A’s have three spots open behind Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir, but the club is leaning toward giving Jesse Chavez and Drew Pomeranz the first shots at two of those jobs, and Oakland went out and got handful of not-quite-ready-for-primetime pitchers for the fifth spot, including Jesse Hahn, Kendall Graveman and Chris Bassitt.

It’s a virtual certainty that one of those last three makes the rotation, and two of them making it isn’t out of the question.

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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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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 hoping Crisp’s time out due to pinkeye will be short; Muncy’s RBI single drives in only run of intrasquad game

Coco Crisp will miss some time after coming down with conjunctivitis, also known as pinkeye.

Coco Crisp will miss some time after coming down with conjunctivitis, also known as pinkeye.

The A’s are looking at being without Coco Crisp for Tuesday’s start of the Cactus League season after the center fielder missed Saturday’s workout having come down with a case of pinkeye.
“He wasn’t here today; we hope he’ll be here tomorrow, but we don’t know,’’ manager Bob Melvin said.
Crisp didn’t start for nine consecutive days from Sept. 19-27, 2012, with the same problem.
“We’re hoping we’ve caught it early,’’ Melvin said. “He came in with it yesterday and we’ve got him at home now hoping this resolves itself quickly.’’
Pinkeye, known medically as conjunctivitis, manifests itself in redness as swelling of the eyelid and eye surface, which becomes red and swollen. It’s a contagious affliction, but is usually not serious and goes away in 7-10 days without medical treatment.
Crisp, who was wearing sunglasses indoors Thursday, when he talked with the media about his new iPhone game app, Coco’s Fro Patrol, didn’t start a game from Sept. 19-27 in 2012 because of pinkeye as the A’s were in the middle of their dramatic rally to edge Texas on the season’s last day for the American League West title.
“We’re hoping very much that it’s not going to take him that long this time,’’ Melvin said. “But if it had to happen, this is a good time, with so much of the spring left.’’
Even before this, Melvin wasn’t planning on putting Crisp in center field in the early going of the Cactus League, which opens Tuesday with the A’s hosting the Giants with lefty Brad Mills on the mound.
Craig Gentry and Sam Fuld have plenty of experience in center field, but Melvin pointed to infielders Matt Olson, Tyler Ladendorf, Andy Parrino and Alden Carrithers as being likely to pick up playing time with Crisp out.
The manager said he felt Crisp, who has a history of being able to return to play quickly after being sidelined, would only need one or two nine-inning games to be ready to go for the season.
Crisp, 36, is the A’s leadoff hitter and the man who usually makes the offense go. Oakland is protective of his health, and the A’s would love to see him start more than the 126 games in which he played last year.
Since 2010, the A’s are 303-252 with Crisp in the lineup, a .546 winning percentage, and 130-125 without him, .510.

–Threatening skies held off Saturday morning and early afternoon as the A’s got in a four-inning intrasquad game.
Only one run was scored, that on an RBI single by minor league infielder Max Muncy, who drove in Billy Burns. Burns was hit by a Brock Huntzinger pitch in the second, took second on an Eric Sogard single and scored on Muncy’s one-out hit.
The game was played with particular attention to the new baseball rules on batters staying in the batter’s box between pitches if they don’t swing.
“We’re just trying to get a feel for the new rules,’’ Melvin said.
Fernando Rodriguez, who threw a scoreless second inning, was singled out by the manager for his performance, as was R.J. Alvarez, who walked the first two men he faced, then came back to strike out the next two before getting an inning-ending grounder.
And then there was switch pitcher Pat Venditte. He warmed up as a left-hander, then started the inning as a right-hander against right-hander Rangel Ravelo before moving back to the left side to close out the inning.
Melvin also singled out the defensive work of outfielders Gentry and Fuld and infielders Brett Lawrie and Marcus Semien.

–Chad Smith, claimed off waivers from the Tigers, reported to camp Saturday. The A’s will work him into the pitching mix in the next day or two.
“I’m excited to be here,’’ Smith said. “You really don’t expect to be traded. You think it will be the other guy. But I have some family in the Bay Area, which is nice.

–The A’s starters for the first three games of the Cactus League season will be lefty Brad Mills, right-hander Jesse Chavez and lefty Barry Zito.
–Ryan Doolittle, the right-handed brother of A’s lefty Sean Doolittle, pitched the final half inning Saturday and showed a lively fastball.
–Alex Hassan, picked up on a waiver claim from the Orioles, should be in the A’s camp Sunday

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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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Crisp enters the app world with launch of Coco’s Fro Patrol

OAK-SPRAIL-0228Coco 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.

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Crisp’s goal is to stay in the A’s lineup more in 2015

Coco Crisp will try and rein in his aggressive tendency this season in an effort to stay healthy.

Coco Crisp will try and rein in his aggressive tendency this season in an effort to stay healthy.

Coco Crisp is going to try to take it a little bit easier in 2015 as the A’s center fielder and leadoff hitter.

Crisp can’t imagine not playing hard. His all-out style of play is what defines him.

After a year in which collisions with outfield walls led to neck pain and a dropoff in productivity, Crisp tells me it’s important to be on the field more this season, and if that means easing off the accelerator a little, so be it.

“I’m going to try and rein in my aggressive game,’’ Crisp said. The outfielder, who will be with his new (and some of his old) teammates at the Coliseum and Arena Sunday for the A’s annual FanFest, doesn’t like to talk about health issues. After a long off-season of rehab to get his neck problems under control, however, he waived that prerogative and opened up on the subject.

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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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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.

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