Henderson’s passing reminds us of baseball’s mortality

Dave Henderson is all smiles while signing for A's fans in 2000.

Dave Henderson is all smiles while signing for A’s fans in 2000.

I got a chance to connect with some of the guys I grew up with Sunday.

At the other end of the phone were Dave Stewart, Dennis Eckersley, Rickey Henderson, Mark McGwire, Sandy Alderson, Terry Steinbach and Tony La Russa.

This isn’t a case of dropping names here. These are some of the guys I talked to after the news came out that Dave Henderson, center fielder par excellence for the A’s from 1988-93 had died in Seattle at 57 of a massive heart attack.

Continue Reading


Teammates salute Dave Henderson, dead too soon at 57

Rickey Henderson (24) Dave Stewart and Dave Henderson (42).

Rickey Henderson (24) Dave Stewart and Dave Henderson (42).

Dave Henderson’s ever-present gap-toothed grin symbolized the joy with which he lived, and that’s what teammates remembered Sunday upon the news that the longtime A’s center fielder died of a massive heart attack in Seattle. He was 57.

“I never saw him have a bad day,’’ first baseman Mark McGwire said. `He’d strike out, and he’d come back to the dugout flashing that gap-toothed grin. He loved to play the game. He was a beautiful man.’’

Henderson joined the A’s in 1988 as just another player in a massive roster reorganization orchestrated by general manager Sandy Alderson, but as the former A’s general manager and current Mets’ GM said, “he was incredibly important to the run of success we had in those years.’’

Continue Reading


A’s add much-needed pregame defensive workout

Marcus Semien's defense has been a problem for the A's, but the club as a whole has not been good making even routine plays.

Marcus Semien’s defense has been a problem for the A’s, but the club as a whole has not been good making even routine plays.

The A’s moved their time on the field around Tuesday to address their defensive issues.

For about 20 minutes, infielders and outfielders got extra work with a phalanx of A’s coaches and instructors, including Hall of Fame outfielder Rickey Henderson guiding them through it before the start of batting practice.

Like all clubs, the A’s get in defensive work daily during batting practice, but manager Bob Melvin looked at the A’s defensive struggles and decided it would be prudent to focus strictly on defense for a spell, much as they would in spring training.

The numbers are bad. Oakland has committed 34 errors in 34 games, a total that is seven more than any team in the Major Leagues and a number that is not sustainable for a team with ambitions of being competitive in the American League West this year.

In each of the last nine games, the A’s have erred at least once, a total of 13 errors. That would be a terrible total in a T-ball league.

Continue Reading


Crisp’s steal his way past Reggie, nowhere near Rickey

Coco Crisp is now the fifth most successful thief in A's history

Coco Crisp is now the fifth most successful thief in A’s history

Coco Crisp has been around long enough to be hanging with some exalted company.

Just take his 11th inning stolen base Wednesday. It was the 145th of his Oakland career. That moves him past Reggie Jackson and into fifth place in the A’s all-time stolen base rankings.

Is that a big deal?

“No, not for me,’’ Crisp said after the A’s 12-inning, 5-4 loss to the Angels. “Not because it’s Reggie, but I’m just not into (numbers) that much.’’

Continue Reading


ALDS Game 5 pressure on shoulders of Oakland organization given its history, not the A’s players

The A’s have been very good at deflecting pressure, putting one foot in front of the other and moving on a very orderly path through the 2013 season.

Does all that change now, with the season down to one game?

They won’t want to admit it, but yes it does.

Just not so much for the players. Most of them went through the disappointment of losing in Game 5 of the 2012 playoffs to Detroit and Justin Verlander, and they know the obstacle the Tigers are.

Continue Reading


Stew and Rickey spice up Friday with the A’s

Chili Davis, Rickey Henderson (both crouching in front) and Dave Stewart (far right, standing) gather Friday morning with members of the youth baseball team Stewart coaches.

PHOENIX – There’s nothing quite like seeing a few of the old-timers around, especially as one creeps towards old-time status oneself.

So it was nice to run across Rickey Henderson and Dave Stewart today with the A’s. I covered them when they were crucial parts of the A’s championship run 1988-1990 (Rickey didn’t land back in Oakland until 1989, but you get the point).

Continue Reading


Reminiscing on Little League day; Dallas Braden to see doctor

It’s Little League day at the Coliseum, so there was a trail of kids making their way past the A’s dugout high-fiving Gio Gonzalez and Bobby Cramer this morning. … I have vivid memories of attending Little League day as an 8-year-old, wearing my uniform and making a lap around the field before the game. Rickey Henderson was playing left field. This was Rickey’s first stint in Oakland, when he wore No. 35. My earliest memories of going to A’s games are seeing Henderson in left field, Dwayne Murphy in center and Tony Armas in right. In Toronto recently, I got to interview Murphy, who’s now the Blue Jays hitting coach, about Rajai Davis. That was cool … Friends ask me if I get star-struck interviewing major league players. For me, it’s more the current crop of coaches around the majors that I get a thrill out of talking to. Because the guys coaching now were the ones I idolized as players when I was growing up. … Anyway, everybody’s gotta take the trip down memory lane now and then, right?

–Dallas Braden is not a happy camper right now regarding his stiff shoulder. He had very little to offer on the injury this morning. “Still sore, stiff, hurts. I’m not gonna throw.” Asked if he was holding out hope of making his next start, Braden just shook his head no. A’s manager Bob Geren said Braden would get checked by a team doctor later today, so maybe we’ll get more information after the game. Geren isn’t speculating yet on whether Braden will miss any time. And with Monday’s day off, the A’s can push Braden’s start back several days if they wish. But on first impression, it sure doesn’t seem like good news for Braden based on his demeanor. Might Tyson Ross or Bobby Cramer be in line for a stint in the rotation?

–Coco Crisp is not in the lineup. With no game Monday, the A’s want to try to give him two straight days off to rest his back. But Geren said Crisp is available if needed off the bench. David DeJesus is playing center field with Conor Jackson in right. Geren said he was considering giving Ryan Sweeney a start, but Sweeney’s hamstring tightened up as he legged out a triple last night. He’s also available if needed, but Geren didn’t want him starting.

–Somewhat lost in the shuffle with the A’s terrific starting pitching so far: The fact that Trevor Cahill has not been very sharp. He’s failed to complete five innings in two of his first three starts, so we’ll see how he fares this afternoon. Tigers starter Brad Penny is facing the A’s for just the third time in his career. He’s allowed 15 earned runs in 16 1/3 innings this season.

The lineups:

A’s – DeJesus CF, Barton 1B, Jackson RF, Willingham LF, Matsui DH, Ellis 2B, Powell C, LaRoche 3B, Pennington SS; Cahill RHP.

Tigers – Rhymes 2B, Jackson CF, Boesch DH, Cabrera 1B, Raburn LF, Kelly 3B, Peralta SS, Avila C, Wells RF; Penny RHP.


Memory lane

The Raider locker room was host to a pregame reception for all of the players on hand to celebrate the A’s 20th Anniversary of their 1989 World Series championship. … The big bonus for the team was that Rickey Henderson did, in fact, show up. The A’s had quietly said he would, but didn’t spend much time promoting it just in case he didn’t make it. He had a big crowd of reporters around him (no surprise) and had lots of entertaining thoughts to share as always. You’ll be reading about them in tomorrow’s CC Times. Dave Stewart, Dave Henderson, Walt Weiss, Mike Moore, Tony Phillips, Lance Blankenship, Matt Young and Ken Phelps were also on hand, as was then-GM Sandy Alderson. Carney Lansford, now the hitting coach for the Giants, dropped in real quick, as did A’s pitching coach Curt Young.

As for the current A’s news …

Josh Outman wasn’t able to get his second MRI on his elbow due to a power outage at the facility in Pleasanton where it was to take place. He’s definitely out for Wednesday’s start, but said he won’t know if he’ll be out longer until he has the MRI tomorrow. Bob Geren said he’d announce after tonight’s game who would take ball tomorrow. It’s between Edgar Gonzalez and Gio Gonzalez. “Obviously it’d be either Edgar or somebody from Triple-A, (and) Gio is scheduled to throw tomorrow,” Geren said.

The A’s were short on details on Eric Chavez’s back surgery today. According to Geren, the surgery went well, and that preliminary indications are that Chavez should be ready for the start of spring training. “He texted (head trainer Steve Sayles) and said he’s doing well,” Geren said. Take all of this w/a grain of salt. We still don’t know many details of the surgery, so it’s tough to put much stock in any timeframe right now.

Mark Ellis can come off the DL on Sunday, and he’s expected to return to second base. In light of that, Geren said Adam Kennedy will bounce around between third base, second base, first base, DH and the outfield. But he’ll be playing regularly somewhere …

Tonight’s lineups:

Kennedy 2B
Cust RF
Holliday LF
Giambi DH
Suzuki C
Sweeney CF
Cabrera SS
Barton 1B
Hannahan 3B

Mazzaro P

Rowand CF
Torres LF
Sandoval 3B
Molina C
Ishikawa 1B
Winn DH
Renteria SS
Schierholtz RF
Downs 2B

Lincecum P


The 40th Anniversary “Gala”

I grew up within five minutes of the Oakland Coliseum. Joe Rudi’s catch in the 1972 World Series was my first baseball memory. I had season tickets during the Bash Brothers era. And I covered most of the 20-game winning streak. So I think it’s fair when I say the A’s have had a huge place in my life.

Given all that, I could not be more embarrassed at their inability to put on even a decent ceremony involving some of their former greats.

Continue Reading