Phillies’ pursuit of Billy Owens as general manager helped motivate A’s to promote both Owens and Feinstein; Mark Kotsay will get interview to be bench coach

The A’s were probably going to get around to giving title bumps to Billy Owens and Dan Feinstein this winter, given that Billy Beane and David Forst have already been elevated.

It didn’t hurt any that when they were shopping for a general manager the Phillies interviewed Owens. Forst, now the general manager, said it made sense that if another team is going to dip into the A’s front office talent pool, it wouldn’t be any kind of sideways move.

The club announced Friday that Owens was being promoted to assistant General Manager/Director of Player Personnel and Feinstein to Assistant General Manager/Pro Scouting and Player Personnel.

“With Billy interviewing with Philly for the GM position, on a practical level a move like this allows us to recognize that if they come to get him, it has to be for that level of position.

“This is a way to recognize the job they’ve been doing. Billy is a tireless worker; he doesn’t get that many days at home in a year. And Dan has brought a lot of institutional knowledge to us and has effectively been working at this job already.’’

Owens, who’d carried the title of Director of Player Personnel since 2004, has spent 18 seasons with the A’s. Feinstein is in his second tour of duty with the A’s, having been with the club first from 1999-2004 before spending time with the Dodgers and Rays before returning to the A’s as Director of Professional Scouting and Player Development.


–Forst and most of the A’s brain trust are heading Sunday to the General Managers’ meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., which start Monday.

By the time they come home, the club could have a new bench coach, and a new minor league hitting instructor. The club interviewed four candidates for the instructor’s job Friday and may talk to one or two more while in Florida.

And two big league sources have confirmed that former A’s outfielder/first baseman Mark Kotsay will interview with the club as a candidate for the bench coach job. The San Francisco Chronicle first reported the A’s were given permission by the Padres to talk with Kotsay, who just finish his first year as hitting coach with San Diego.

The club has an open spot on the big league coaching staff with the release of first base coach Tye Waller and for the moment at least is looking for a bench coach. If they find one they like, such as Kotsay, it’s probable that last year’s bench coach, Mike Aldrete, will move to another position on the staff, probably first base coach.


–The A’s picked up an outfielder on waivers Friday, claiming Andrew Lambo off waivers from the Pirates.

He missed almost all of the season with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, but Forst said he’s healthy now and playing in minicamp.

“He had an outstanding 2014,’’ Forst said, referring to Lambo’s rise from Class-A to Triple-A while hitting .312 with a dozen homers along the way. Lambo also can play some in the outfield. “He fits our need for guys who are flexible. He’s a good guy for depth who may have some upside.’’


It turns out to be a dog’s life in Boston this weekend

Jesse Hahn had a special companion with him this weekend in Boston, his dog Hank.

Jesse Hahn had a special companion with him this weekend in Boston, his dog Hank.

This weekend has seen the streets of Boston treated to the completely ordinary sight of a man walking a dog.

What made it more than a little unusual was that the man was A’s starting pitcher Jesse Hahn. While many baseball players have dogs, they generally don’t travel with them.

But there was Hahn and Hank, the dog he shares with his girlfriend, Jessica Pauley.

The A’s hotel, the Taj Boston, is pet friendly, so when Jessica joined Hahn for the weekend series with the Red Sox, Hank came along.

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Will ragged running game catch up to front-running A’s?

Tye Waller hasn't much liked what he's seen of the A's running the bases.

Tye Waller hasn’t much liked what he’s seen of the A’s running the bases.

To look at the A’s stolen base numbers – they had been successful on 19 of 21 steal tries entering Saturday – you’d think the Oakland running game is a fine-tuned machine.

It’s not. Stolen bases, while important, are only part of the base running package. And the rest of the package isn’t much to look at.

Twenty nine games in to the season, the A’s have made more than a half dozen outs running the bases. The latest came Friday when with men on first and second, Yoenis Cespedes hit a bullet to deep center. Josh Donaldson was already around second base when the ball was caught by Jackie Bradley Jr., and a great relay flip from Dustin Pedroia beat Donaldson back to first base.

“We keep doing it,’’ first base coach Tye Waller said Saturday. “We keep working on it, but we keep doing it.’’

Manager Bob Melvin talked to Donaldson about the play. The A’s were down 6-1 at the time en route to a 7-1 loss. It’s not like Donaldson was going to tie the game if he scored.

“We haven’t been very good base-running wise, no question,’’ manager Bob Melvin said. “There is over-aggressiveness at times on our part, running with your head down. There is no reason to be aggressive in that situation. And he knows that, and it’s been addressed.’’

This road trip has seen the A’s running out of control at times. Monday in Arlington, Texas, Brandon Moss was picked off first base by Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos in the third inning and Josh Reddick was doubled off first base in the eighth. Texas’ center fielder Leonys Martin made a terrific catch with the A’s up 4-0 and Reddick, running with the pitch, had insufficient time to retreat.

“That’s the kind of thing we’ve done too much of,’’ Waller said. “When the play is in front of you like that, you have to make sure the ball isn’t caught. We can’t be getting doubled off like that.

“We’re constantly talking about it, keeping them aware. We’re going to get better. We can’t keep making these kinds of mistakes. We’ve been winning despite it, but you can’t keep doing that over six months without it catching up to you.’’


Will outfielders try to beat the system on dropped balls?

With all the calls being overturned with balls being accidentally dropped in the transfer from glove to hand in Major League Baseball these days, A’s center fielder Coco Crisp was asked Monday how long before someone drops the ball during the transfer on purpose?

After all, runs have to hold and retreat to their bases once they see the ball being caught. But with umpires consistently ruling “no catch’’ even after players have taken three or four strides following the catch, how long before someone opts to make a catch and then drop the ball on purpose to maybe force a very fast runner to get a double play?

Crisp wouldn’t advise it.

“I wouldn’t do it,’’ he said. “You’ve got to make the catch, make the play.’’

The same question was put to Oakland first base coach Tye Waller.

“I know it’s been talked about,’’ Waller said. “So far, nothing I’ve seen has been like that. I think everybody wants to get the outs they can get.’’

As part of their start-of-series scouting meeting before the game Monday, the A’s spent extra time talking about how they want to handle fly balls to the outfield that are no longer as routine as they once were.

“We need to have guys peaking over their shoulders,’’ Melvin said.

Waller said that he’s told his base runners he’d divide the responsibility with them.

“I told them, `I’ll watch the ball,’’ he said. “They have to run heads up.’’

Waller took his eye off the ball over the weekend in Seattle when Yoenis Cespedes lined out to Dustin Ackley. Ackley dropped the ball making the transfer, and neither coach nor base runner realized it. So Waller is going to be watching the ball until the transfer is successfully made, which will put more responsibility on the runners.

“A play like that can never happen again,’’ he said. “You can’t undo what’s been done. But you can make sure it never happens again. It’s an adjustment process for all of us.’’Will