Sonny Gray came to the A’s as someone with an intricate knowledge of the strike zone.
He’s going to strike out a few, as was the case Friday in a 3-0 loss to the Giants in Scottsdale when he fanned seven in 5.2 innings and walked just one.
He could use a little more help from his defense when he doesn’t register the K. Three times A’s infielder butchered plays, one each by shortstop Jed Lowrie, second baseman Nick Punto and first baseman Brandon Moss.
Alberto Callaspo is wearing a new glove for A’s these days
Alberto Callaspo is just 5-foot-9, about a foot shorter than Oakland’s tallest first baseman, Nate Freiman.
The A’s reminded him of that Friday.
When they took the field for drills, there was a bucket of baseballs, about two feet deep, with a Callaspo jersey wrapped around it.
Callaspo smiled, then went about his day, which included for the first time in his life playing five innings at first base. He caught five throws, none of them with difficulty.
“It was easy today, let’s see what happens,’’ he said, acknowledging that it will get more difficult as he warms to the new position.
Because Callaspo presents a much different target than the run-of-the-mill first baseman, A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson said “ the infielders are going to have to keep our throws down.’’
It’s not that Sam Fuld enjoys running into walls.
He just doesn’t see another option.
As long as a ball is in the air and available to be caught, Fuld is going to do whatever he can to catch it.
And whatever he can do is quite a bit.
As Thursday’s Cactus League lineup suggested, Josh Donaldson is looking at a new role for the A’s in 2014.
He drove in a team-best 93 runs for the A’s last season, mostly batting third, fourth, fifth and sixth. He was in the lineup batting second against the Brewers Thursday, and that’s likely to be where he fits in for Oakland moving forward.
The No.2 slot isn’t typically where teams put their most prolific RBI bat, so it says something about both the A’s and about Donaldson that this is the current thinking regarding the third baseman’s role in 2014.
The A’s will enter spring training with one of the youngest rosters in the Major Leagues.
There is a drawback to that, albeit a small one. When MLB.com just came out with its annual list of the top 100 prospects, the A’s only had one player on the list. Shortstop Addison Russell, who turned 20 on Thursday, ranks 12th.
Beyond that, nada for Oakland.
You may have read that John Jaso will head into spring training as the leading contender for the A’s designated hitter chores this year.
Jaso has read it, over and over again. Such is the power of the internet.
But the veteran catcher, whose contract with Oakland for the 2014 season was just finalized, doesn’t take all that talk all that seriously.
The A’s have some serious decisions to make before the evening is over.
The club has nine men on the roster who are arbitration eligible and by 9 p.m. this evening Oakland must decide which of the nine will be tendered contracts.
The group includes pitchers Jerry Blevins, Jesse Chavez and Fernando Rodriguez, catcher John Jaso, first basemen Daric Barton and Brandon Moss, shortstop Jed Lowrie and outfielders Josh Reddick and Seth Smith.
Those players who are tendered contracts are those the club is willing to go to salary arbitration with, although typically the A’s like to avoid arbitration whenever possible. Non-tendered players become free agents.
Dan Straily as Wolverine
This is perhaps an odd time to concern oneself with the Oakland offense, but the A’s have gone from scoring early and often in game after game to having scored one run in the last two starts.
That in itself wouldn’t be too miserable if it were not for the fact that the A’s face Felix Hernandez in Seattle Friday and they haven’t scored a run off the King in two starts this year.
Having three of the final five games before the playoffs start be games in which they haven’t been able to score much is not the tone the A’s want to set.
Someone I’ve known for a long time, someone who has an annual vote for baseball’s glamour awards – the MVP and the Cy Young – just asked me who, other than Josh Donaldson was worthy of a “bottom vote’’ for MVP
That would be eighth, ninth or 10th on a ballot that asks voters to go 10 players deep.
I forwarded Jed Lowrie’s name.
“Really?’’ he asked.
Nate Freiman, internet sensation.
Well, not quite up to Justin Bieber standards, perhaps, but a pieced-together video of Freiman’s slide at home plate was making the rounds Monday night and Tuesday.
The 6-foot-8 A’s rookie first baseman, not the fastest man on the field, galloped home from second base and did a part-dive, part-slide, part-scramble, getting his hand across home plate for the run that put the A’s ahead to stay in an 8-6 win over the Tigers.
Asked what an East German Olympic judge would give Freiman on form, shortstop Jed Lowrie said, “not a 10.0.’’