July 2013

Callaspo to join A’s on Wednesday

2009 first-round Draft pick Grant Green’s place as Oakland’s second baseman of the future is no more. That’s because the A’s focus isn’t so much on the future as it is the present, which is why they traded Green to the Angels on Tuesday night in exchange for infielder Alberto Callaspo.

The switch-hitting Callaspo will mainly play second base for the first-place A’s, who had been looking for an offensive upgrade against left-handed pitching at the position — currently shared by platoon players Eric Sogard and Adam Rosales — before Wednesday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline, as their pursuit to a second straight playoff appearance continues.

Rosales is likely to be designated for assignment prior to Wednesday’s matinee against the Blue Jays upon Callaspo’s arrival.

“We needed some infield help, particularly someone who could help swing from the right side,” A’s general manager Billy Beane said. “We’re pretty thin infield-wise, when you start thinking about the fact we’ve played Josh [Donaldson] pretty much every inning of almost every game. He can give Josh a breather. He can hit against left-handed pitching, play some second base.”

Beane didn’t anticipate any other moves before Wednesday’s 1 p.m. PST Trade Deadline, saying he was “not currently” engaged in other trade talks.

“Sometimes things happen quickly,” he said, “but I would say probably not. You never know. You get calls sometimes early in the morning on the last day, but at this point I don’t see anything right now.”

Callaspo, 30 and in his eighth Major League season, has strictly played third base in each of the last three seasons. He hasn’t played at second since 2010 and hasn’t been a regular there since 2008, but he offers the A’s a better bat against left-handers than Rosales, who was hitting just .197 entering the day.

For his career, Callaspo has favored the right side of the plate, posting a .763 OPS next to a .696 clip as a left-handed hitter.

The second-base platoon likely stays intact, then, with Sogard and Callaspo sharing duties at the position, leaving Jed Lowrie to remain at shortstop on an everyday basis going forward, with Sogard acting as his backup.

Beane, who began fielding calls from the Angels on Monday morning, didn’t shy away from questions regarding Callaspo’s absence from second base, stating up front, “I am concerned.”

“But he has played it a lot in the past, and there wasn’t a huge availability of that type of player,” he continued. “He’s going to have to get over there. We were in a situation where we needed another infielder.”

Callaspo was batting .253 with five home runs and 36 RBIs in 85 games for the Angels, having also compiled 33 walks next to just 22 strikeouts spanning 334 plate appearances.

He is owed roughly $6 million, including $4.875 million in 2014, and the A’s are expected to pay all of it.

“I think he’s a great player,” said Chris Young, a teammate of Callaspo in 2007 in Arizona. “He’s really good defensively, and he’s a guy that’s going to put the ball in play. Great bat control, one of the better bat control guys in the league. I think he has a great approach at the plate and is able to make a difference up there and keep things moving.”

“He’s a quality player,” said Donaldson. “He’s one of those guys that can be a table-setter and get on base a lot. He’s solid in all parts of the game.”

Green, 25, made his Major League debut for Oakland on July 8, ultimately going hitless in 15 at-bats spanning five games while committing three errors. Defense has always been a concern for Green, whose movement between positions in the Minors slowed his journey to the big leagues.

However, the A’s always thought highly of his bat, which registered a .325 average with 27 doubles and 11 home runs in 87 games for Triple-A Sacramento this year. He was a late scratch from the River Cats’ game on Tuesday night, around the same time Callaspo was pulled from the Angels’ game in Texas.

Beane admitted giving up a first-rounder wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t “so much a matter of things not working out with him.”

“It’s just a matter of addressing a need for a first-place team and recognizing and trying to grasp the present,” he explained. “We’re in a pretty unique position. I think we need to do everything we can to help this club out. The guys here, Bob [Melvin], the staff and the people that follow this team deserve that. We did think highly of Grant, and the price was steep, but it was a sellers’ market for this position, and not many guys out there, but we needed to get somebody.”

It’s a sentiment appreciated by his employees.

“In a clubhouse, no matter what happens, you believe you have what it takes,” Young said. “We’ve been able to play pretty well this season, but any time a move is made in an attempt to make the team better, you have to respect it.”

Said Sogard: “Any way we can improve, absolutely. We’re looking forward to this last stretch, and hopefully we can keep this going. [Callaspo] is a great player. He’s been a hassle for us, so it’s great to have him on our side. I think he’ll be a great fit in our clubhouse.”

Beane: “Not currently” involved in more trade talks

After striking a deal with the Angels on Tuesday night for Alberto Callaspo, A’s general manager Billy Beane said he is “not currently” engaged in other trade talks, meaning Wednesday’s non-waiver trade deadline could pass without any further movement in Oakland.

“Sometimes things happen quickly,” Beane said, “but I would say probably not. You never know. You get calls sometimes early in the morning on the last day, but at this point I don’t see anything right now.”

In recent days, the A’s were looking for pitching help, and it was right-hander Jake Peavy’s name that was mentioned most in rumor circles. Peavy officially became a member of the Red Sox on Tuesday night, and while Beane wouldn’t comment specifically on him, he did say he’s happy with his current in-house options.

That includes rehabbing lefty Brett Anderson, anticipated to rejoin the A’s in mid-August, and top prospect Sonny Gray.

“Brett’s doing well, and we anticipate his arrival soon,” Beane said. “At some point, we have to recognize the way Sonny Gray’s pitching. He becomes an option for us somewhere. We always had that in the back of our mind, too, that we always had some in-house options that were quickly going to be able to contribute.”

A’s trade Green to Angels for Callaspo

OAKLAND — The A’s gave away former first-round Draft pick Grant Green to the Angels on Tuesday in exchange for a proven infielder in Alberto Callaspo.

According to a source, Callaspo will play second base for the A’s, who had been looking for an offensive upgrade at the position — currently shared by platoon players Eric Sogard and Adam Rosales — before Wednesday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Callaspo, 30 and in his eighth Major League season, has spent the majority of the last few years at third base. He hasn’t played at second since 2010, but he offers the A’s a better bat against left-handers than Rosales, who was hitting just .197 entering the day.

The second-base platoon likely stays intact, then, with Sogard and Callaspo sharing duties at the position, leaving Jed Lowrie to remain at shortstop on an everyday basis going forward.

Callaspo, pulled from the Angels’ game in the top of the sixth in Texas on Tuesday night, was batting .253 with five home runs and 36 RBIs in 85 games for the Angels. He is owed roughly $6 million, including $4.875 million in 2014, and the A’s are expected to pay all of it.

Green, 25, made his Major League debut for Oakland on July 8, ultimately going hitless in 15 at-bats spanning five games while committing three errors. Defense has always been a concern for Green, whose movement between positions in the Minors slowed his journey to the big leagues.

However, the A’s always thought highly of his bat, which registered a .325 average with 27 doubles and 11 home runs in 87 games for Triple-A Sacramento this year. He was a late scratch from the River Cats’ game on Tuesday night, around the same time Callaspo was pulled.

Jaso undergoes series of concussion tests again

HOUSTON — A’s catcher John Jaso has taken a foul ball to his face mask twice in as many days, leading to doctor visits on both occasions to check for concussion symptoms.

Following Wednesday’s 4-3 win in Houston, which he departed after seven innings, Jaso underwent a series of vision tests, which came back normal. However, he still felt dizzy, making his availability for upcoming games uncertain.

Jaso, at least, should be able to rest Thursday, with a lefty in CJ Wilson throwing for the Angels and Derek Norris likely drawing the start at catcher.

“My brain might like the rest, but at the same time I want to play,” Jaso said before boarding the team charter. “I feel good right now. I feel like I’m working really good at-bats, so it’s definitely not a time I’d want to rest or whatever. A lot of it will have to do with the trainer and what he feels is best.”

Jaso went 2-for-3 with a home run, a double and a walk on Wednesday, before a foul ball drilled his mask in the seventh. On Tuesday, the same happened in the sixth.

“He was cleared and good for the game, and once he took another one, he told me he had a little headache and that was it,” manager Bob Melvin said. “You can’t chance that.”

Jaso is very familiar with concussion tests, having undergone them in the Minors when he was diagnosed with one.

“It’s definitely nothing new to me, it just gets a little scary sometimes,” he said. “Like yesterday after I got hit, I was kind of fearing the pitch he was going to throw after that. I had to call time because I didn’t know whether I was going to see the pitch or not. I don’t want to hurt the team at the same time. I know, blocking balls, I want to be on top of that in one-run ballgames. I don’t want to let pride get in the way of that.

“We’re going to have to see how things go. I’ve got some head problems right now. I don’t like making a habit of this.”

Green at second base, batting eighth in A’s debut

PITTSBURGH — The Grant Green era officially began on Monday, when the A’s brought their former first-round pick to Pittsburgh to play second base and bat eighth in their series opener against the Pirates.

To make room on the roster for Green, the A’s designated Adam Rosales for assignment.

This has been four years in the making for Green, drafted out of college as a shortstop in 2009 before embarking on a somewhat lengthy journey to the Majors, playing six different positions along the way while his employers debated the best fit. He’s finally found a home at second base.

“I feel really comfortable there,” Green said. “It’s kind of just second nature now. Being able to play there pretty much every day the last couple of weeks has really helped.

“It’s a move I’m OK with now. It was kind of mind-boggling at first with all the position changes, but they always said it was for the better in the long run, and it’s definitely worked out.”

The plan is for Green to platoon with Eric Sogard at second base on a first-place A’s club, getting starts against left-handed pitching — a move that finally brings permanency to Jed Lowrie’s place at shortstop, his natural position. As for Lowrie’s backup, manager Bob Melvin says that job belongs to Sogard.

Green, 25 was hitting .318 with a .374 on-base percentage, next to 11 home runs, 25 doubles and 49 RBIs in 81 games with Triple-A Sacramento.

“He’s swinging the bat really well, he’s had real good at-bats against left-handed pitching and is way more comfortable at [second base] now,” Melvin said. “We just felt like the way he was playing at the time, it was the right time to get him here and get him the opportunity.”

“It’s a great feeling knowing that the organization and the people at the top feel comfortable in my ability to play this game at a high level,” Green said. “Even when the team’s playing very well, they’re going to call me up and see what I got.”

Green had all of his immediate family on hand for his debut in Pittsburgh, which includes dad Gregg, mom Valerie, brother Garett and sister-in-law Ashley, all from the Southern California area.

They were his first call after he learned of his promotion from Sacramento manager Steve Scarsone on Sunday afternoon in Fresno, shortly before the River Cats were about to play a game. Green was scratched from the lineup and instead took a series of flights that led to his arrival in Pittsburgh around 9:30 a.m. on Monday.

“Scarsone called me in and said I was coming up here, and I just thought he was fooling around with me at first, just because that’s his personality,” he said. “He told me that’s something he wouldn’t fool around with. I thought he was joking at first, to be completely honest, and kind of just speechless. It definitely didn’t really sink in until I told my mom and she started crying.”

As for Rosales, who was hitting .200 on the season, his fourth in Oakland, the A’s will have 10 days to trade, release or pass him through waivers.

“That was a tough decision, it was,” Melvin said. “Adam has been here awhile, he can play different positions, he’s versatile, he’s a great teammate, he’s loved by the players in the clubhouse. He’s one of those guys you just always pull for. If he ends up with someone in the big leagues, great. If not and we can keep him in the organization, that’d be great, too.”

Green to join A’s in Pittsburgh tomorrow

KANSAS CITY — Four years after being drafted by the A’s as their first overall pick, infielder Grant Green is finally headed to the Majors.

According to a team source, Green will join Oakland in Pittsburgh on Monday for the start of a three-game Interleague set with the Pirates.

The 25-year-old Green is hitting .318 with a .374 on-base percentage, next to 11 home runs, 25 doubles and 49 RBIs in 81 games with Triple-A Sacramento. His offense, though, has never been a concern for the A’s so much as his defense, but having spent the majority of this season strictly at second base, Green is thought to have improved in that area.

It’s at second base where Green is expected to make his debut, according to the official Twitter account of his high school, Anaheim’s Canyon High: “Congratulations to Grant Green who just got called up and will start at 2nd base for Oakland tomorrow night!”

The corresponding move for Green is unknown, though the A’s may potentially opt to designate Adam Rosales for assignment. Rosales has been a versatile piece for the A’s since 2010 but has struggled to consistently produce this season. He’s hitting just .200, and he also committed a costly error in the eighth inning that led to Kansas City’s game-winning run on Saturday.

Should Rosales be designated, the A’s would have 10 days to trade, release or pass him through waivers and keep him in the system.

Leyland: “There’s a kid that got shortchanged”

Tigers manager and AL All-Star skipper Jim Leyland spoke candidly to local reporters, including MLB.com colleague Jason Beck, on Sunday morning about Josh Donaldson being left off the All-Star team, despite having put together not only one of the best first halfs of any third baseman but, really, any player in the league. Here’s what he had to say:

There’s a kid that got shortchanged, but there was nothing we could do about it. You’ve got Miguel Cabrera, and the players voted [Manny] Machado, and then you’ve got him, and you’ve still got [Evan] Longoria and [Adrian] Beltre. I mean, he just fell in. And it’s too bad, because this kid … I’ll go on record saying this kid’s an All-Star this year but it just didn’t [work out]. I can’t have four third basemen. It’s too bad.

He’s just a good, hard-nosed all-around player, and he’s getting better all the time. He’s growing up right before everybody’s eyes. I was impressed with him last year. We talked about him last year. This kid, I really have a lot of respect for him. I don’t know the kid, but he’s strong, he’s got power. He’s a perfect corner guy, a very hard-nosed guy, and he’s a scrapper defensively. I like him a lot, and he truly could’ve been an All-Star this year. It just didn’t work out.

I’m not defending anything, because I got three picks. And sometimes, whether people want to believe it or not, sometimes those picks may be from teams that don’t have anybody, so you don’t really get any.

Colon to represent A’s at All-Star Game

KANSAS CITY — Mixed emotions engulfed the A’s clubhouse on Saturday afternoon.

There was plenty joy for a 40-year-old pitcher who made the All-Star team — but also confusion, disappointment and even anger knowing he won’t be joined by any teammates on the American League squad.

For the seventh time in the last eight seasons, the A’s learned Saturday that they’ll be represented by only one player at this year’s Midsummer Classic: Bartolo Colon.

It’s a deserving nod, no doubt, given the remarkable first half Oakland’s 16-year veteran has inscribed on his lengthy resume, which includes 11 wins next to just three losses and a 2.78 ERA.

“I feel extremely happy about it,” Colon said through A’s coach and interpreter Ariel Prieto. “I believe it’s all about the work that I’ve been doing, since even before the season started. I thank the Oakland A’s for giving me the opportunity to be part of them.”

It’s the first All-Star nod for Colon since 2005, the same year he took home the AL Cy Young Award, and second of his career, having also been named an All-Star in 1998. That was 15 years ago.

“I’m obviously very happy about Bartolo,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Very deserving, a guy that’s been around some time, and to make an All-Star Game at the age of 40 and have the type of half he did is pretty incredible.”

But for as happy as he is for Colon, Melvin is stunned that the All-Star Game, to be managed by Detroit’s Jim Leyland, will take place without any of his other players, notably Grant Balfour and Josh Donaldson.

“No question. Hopefully something happens and another gets in, but I am very surprised,” said Melvin, who spoke to Leyland on numerous occasions leading up to Saturday’s announcement.

“He called me and asked me some questions, and he did that with everybody,” he continued. “He didn’t give me any indication. This certainly isn’t on Jim Leyland. He only gets to pick a certain number of guys, and there are always going to be deserving players that don’t get to go. As far as speaking about our players on our team, I felt like we were deserving of having more than one guy there.”

“If anything,” said Donaldson, “I’m more disappointed that we only had one. I feel like we’re probably one of the best teams in all of baseball, and we deserve more than one guy. And I’m not talking about for me. You’ve got Balfour, Jed [Lowrie] is one of the top-hitting shortstops in the game right now. I just feel like there are more guys than just one in here that are All-Stars, and that’s why we’ve been so good.”

At 51-37, the defending AL West champion A’s are one of baseball’s best teams and have been since the middle of last year. Yet they’ve still yet to garner the type of attention they feel they merit.

“I guess from what you hear over the years, it’s not really surprising,” said Balfour. “It’s a little disappointing to see as a team. I think we’ve shown we’re a good team with a lot of great players. Just the way it goes I guess.

“I’m definitely disappointed, to be truthful. But what are you going to do about it?”

Balfour has been perfect for the A’s as a closer, having given them 22 saves in as many opportunities. He has 40 in a row dating back to last year.

“He’s been as close to shutdown as anyone in all of baseball,” Donaldson said. “I don’t know that there’s any other closer out there who’s perfect. He’s been perfect for us all year. I don’t know that there are any numbers that are better than perfect. I don’t understand why he’s not on the team.”

Donaldson’s numbers are equally impressive, even next to his peers in a stacked third-base field that includes Miguel Cabrera, Manny Machado, Adrian Beltre and Evan Longoria. Oakland’s infielder, a converted catcher, exited Saturday with a .317 clip and a .918 OPS, along with 15 home runs and 57 RBIs.

Had he been selected, he would have been the first A’s position player to be invited to the All-Star Game since Ramon Hernandez in 2003.

“I’m not surprised,” Donaldson said, though with a hint of disappointment in his voice. “I felt honored that our fan base got behind me and tried to do what they could. That was special. For me, I understand the game of baseball and it’s more than just baseball sometimes, especially for stuff like this. Everyone who made the team I feel like is pretty deserving. I’m more happy that Colon made it vs. me, myself, not making it. It’s an incredible thing to do at 40 years old. I think it’s pretty amazing.”

Balfour was more candid in relaying his frustrations about the news.

“I guess I wasn’t good enough to make it,” he said wryly. “I don’t know what to tell you. You’re interviewing me because you thought I should’ve made it, and I don’t know. I feel like I’ve had some pretty good years over the years, and I felt like this was a year it maybe could’ve happened. But it didn’t happen and there’s still a season to be played, so I’m not going to sit here and cry about it.

“You play for a long time, think you put up some good numbers over the years, but if it was meant to be it was meant to be, so you let it go. It’s not always good enough to be perfect. You can’t be perfect for everyone. It’s not my choice. If I had the choice I’d go.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 60 other followers