A’s catch a break; Reddick not seriously hurt

Oakland got some good news during the A’s 4-all tie with the White Sox Friday night.

Josh Reddick came out of the game after suffering a sprained left ankle in the second inning. However, Reddick left Phoenix Municipal Stadium under his own power saying he thought he’d be fine.

And manager Bob Melvin echoed that.

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Bob Melvin takes part in “Feats of Strength” tradition

Pretty quiet Sunday morning at Muni, where the A’s host the Royals this afternoon. There wasn’t much in the way of news, although the first big round of cuts is expected after the game. Right-hander Sonny Gray, the 2011 first-round pick, was the first to be sent down. He got word yesterday.

–An A’s spring tradition, the “Feats of Strength” presentation, took place in the clubhouse. I’ve seen this six times now, and it never fails to entertain. Team chaplain Donnie Moore and a couple of his assistants tear apart phone books, bend steel bars and karate-chop concrete blocks with their bare hands – the motivational message being that if you envision yourself able to do something, you can accomplish any goal.

This was the first time manager Bob Melvin has seen the “Feats of Strength.” Little did he know he’d be asked to lay flat on his back on a bench, with a slab of concrete resting on his chest. Then someone took a hammer of some sort (my view was blocked by all the players gathered around) and smashed the concrete across his chest. Melvin hopped up and gave a couple high-fives, admitting later he had his eyes closed through the whole episode. Moore did the same thing with former manager Bob Geren last spring.

“There’s motivational speaking and then there’s that,” Melvin said. “Actions speak louder than words, and it was all it was cracked up to be.”

On the baseball front …

–Yoenis Cespedes is hitting third as D.H. today. “Maybe we’ll move him back to fourth the next day,” Melvin said. “We do feel he’s a middle-of-the-order bat. I don’t think he did anything to disprove that (Saturday).” Where might Cespedes settle in the batting order? I’d say that depends on whether anyone else emerges as a potential No. 3 hitter. Seth Smith or Josh Reddick could fit the bill, although we don’t even know if Smith will be in the lineup full time. Cespedes will be off Monday, as Melvin is putting him on the same two-on, one-off rotation as his regular starters.

–Daric Barton will make his exhibition debut Monday, serving as D.H. against the White Sox in Glendale. His throwing is still coming along slowly after shoulder surgery, so no word yet on when he’ll play first base.

The lineups:

A’s: Weeks 2B, Crisp CF, Cespedes DH, Gomes LF, Donaldson 3B, Smith RF, Recker C, Ka’aihue 1B, Pennington SS; Milone LHP.

Royals: Cain CF, Betancourt 2B, Hosmer 1B, Butler DH, Francoeur RF, Moustakas 3B, Pena C, Robinson LF, Escobar SS; Chen LHP.


Manny Ramirez will DH in A’s exhibition opener Friday

The morning recap as the A’s take infield and prepare for this afternoon’s intrasquad game …

Manny Ramirez will be the designated hitter Friday when the A’s open Cactus League play against the Seattle Mariners. But manager Bob Melvin cautioned not to read too much into Friday’s lineup, backing off somewhat from his statement Wednesday that the starting nine in the exhibition opener might look a lot like his lineup for the March 28 regular season opener. The A’s have several starting spots up grabs, including first base, third base and DH. The look of the outfield is also undecided, with Yoenis Cespedes factoring heavily in that picture when he reports to camp.

Ramirez can’t even play in the regular season until he serves a 50-game suspension. Melvin said earlier in camp that he will rotate hitters through the DH spot. Ramirez will draw starts so he can shake off rust. But figure that Brandon Allen, Chris Carter, Jonny Gomes, Kila Ka’aihue and Seth Smith will also see DH time as the A’s must identify someone for that spot to begin the regular season.

Allen, Carter and Ka’aihue are also competing for the first base job along with Daric Barton. Barton, who is recovering from surgery on his throwing shoulder, had a cortisone shot recently and is getting a couple day off from baseball activity. He isn’t expected to be ready to play defense until later this month. Does that put him behind in the first base battle? Melvin says no. “We know what to expect for him,” Melvin said. “We need to get him healthy.”


Manny Ramirez likely to assume Oakland A’s DH role when suspension ends

The update from manager Bob Melvin’s morning media briefing …

Expect Manny Ramirez to be inserted as the A’s designated hitter as soon as the slugger comes off suspension. Melvin said that’s a logical assumption given Ramirez’s prolific hitting career. “He could jump out of bed in December and hit.”

Ramirez agreed to a minor league deal with Oakland on Monday and Melvin expects him in camp Friday, which is the full-squad reporting deadline. Ramirez must serve a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s drug policy, meaning he’s not eligible to play in a regular season game until May 30. Given that, Melvin said he won’t give Ramirez the majority of spring at-bats at DH, but will mix him into a rotation that will likely include Seth Smith, Jonny Gomes, Chris Carter and Kila Ka’aihue. Melvin added that he wouldn’t rule out giving Ramirez an occasional start in left field during the regular season.

Ramirez can play in a 10-game minor league assignment as his suspension nears an end. He’s likely to spend that period with Triple-A Sacramento, according to Melvin.


What will Manny Ramirez’s impact be on the A’s?

Checking in from Phoenix, where the A’s just announced the signing of Manny Ramirez to a minor league contract.

I have a couple different thoughts on this: First of all, spring training just got very interesting. I expect that Ramirez will attract a throng of national media when he arrives at camp, which is expected to be by the end of this week. He might be arriving right around the same time that Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes checks into camp. Cespedes’ four-year, $36 million deal should be finalized soon. But Ramirez should bring a circus-like atmosphere that’s all his own, thanks to his nutty personality as well as his reported performance-enhancing drug use. For a team that has lacked star power in recent years, this is quite a publicity boost and raises the A’s national profile. And if it boosts ticket sales, that’s a great thing for a club that ranked last in the major leagues in home attendance last season.

However … what will Ramirez’s real impact be on the field? He must serve a 50-game suspension, meaning he’ll miss more than one-quarter of the season by the time he’s eligible May 30. By that time, where will the A’s be in the standings? Will they be so far back that his addition won’t mean much? Or what if the other likely DH candidates (think Seth Smith and Jonny Gomes) really tear it up over those first 50 games. Do they stick in the lineup and does Ramirez get unceremoniously released? It’s worth pondering, but for now, the A’s will bask in the national spotlight a bit. And how often have we said that for a topic non San Jose ballpark-related?

Let’s hear some reaction to the Ramirez signing. Are you counting the days until May 30? Or do you hope that the A’s are hitting so much that adding Ramirez seems unneeded?

Sound off …


A’s finalize one-year contract with outfielder Jonny Gomes

The A’s finally made official the signing of outfielder Jonny Gomes to a one-year contract, reportedly worth $1 million plus $200,000 in possible incentives. To make room for Gomes on the 40-man roster, the A’s designated for assignment infielder Adrian Cardenas, meaning they have 10 days to trade or release Cardenas, or send him to the minors if he clears waivers.

This decision might have surprised some fans. Cardenas was the marquee prospect obtained from Philadelphia in the Joe Blanton trade of 2008, but he’s failed to crack the majors to this point. “There’s a lot of people in this organization who believe in Adrian and put in a lot of time (with him),” A’s assistant GM David Forst said. “This time of year, you end up having to make tough roster decisions.”

Cardenas’ main position is second base (where Jemile Weeks is now entrenched), and the A’s have also tried him at third base and left field. He’s a career .303 hitter in the minors but has never reached double-digit homers in a single season. You would like to see more power from a potential third baseman or corner outfielder.

The A’s received three players in that 2008 Blanton trade: Cardenas, lefty Josh Outman (recently traded to Colorado along with Guillermo Moscoso for outfielder Seth Smith) and outfielder Matt Spencer (traded to the Cubs along with two others after the 2009 season for Jake Fox and Aaron Miles). Looking back, that deal simply hasn’t panned out.

But it’s worth noting that Cardenas is still just 24. Forst said the A’s would like to retain him if he clears waivers, so perhaps he can still make an impact.

As for the right-handed hitting Gomes, he’ll definitely get at-bats against lefties, either in the outfield or at DH. Smith, Coco Crisp and Josh Reddick are the A’s projected outfield starters, left to right. Smith and Reddick hit left-handed and Crisp is a switch hitter. “Clearly we’re left-handed-heavy in both corners and with our potential first base/DH options,” Forst said. “We’ve been on the lookout for an experienced right-handed bat, and Jonny has had a lot of success hitting left-handers over the years.”


A’s trade Outman, Moscoso to Rockies for outfielder Seth Smith

Some A’s news for your Monday morning:

They’ve traded pitchers Josh Outman and Guillermo Moscoso to the Colorado Rockies for outfielder Seth Smith, who may very well be in their Opening Night lineup at one of the corner outfield spots. I’m not surprised the A’s dealt for Smith, 29, since they’ve been rumored to be interested in him. But I am surprised they dealt both Moscoso and Outman for him. The A’s have holes in the rotation (even if they do finalize a one-year deal with Bartolo Colon), and Moscoso and Outman were considered two candidates to fill out the starting five. The rotation should now go Brandon McCarthy, Dallas Braden (when he’s healthy) and Colon, with two spots to fill. This trade tells me the A’s are comfortable looking at the promising but inexperienced arms they’ve received in other trades this winter to possibly fill in those spots. Consider Jarrod Parker (obtained from AZ in the Trevor Cahill trade) and Brad Peacock and Tom Milone (both received from Washington in the Gio Gonzalez trade) to be prime candidates for rotation spots out of spring training. Graham Godfrey and Tyson Ross will also be in the mix.

Here’s a look at Smith’s career stats with the Rockies. Coco Crisp will start in center field for the A’s, and he could be flanked by Smith and Josh Reddick, with Michael Taylor and Collin Cowgill also possibilities.