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A’s reportedly sign Cody Ross

Veteran Cody Ross will reportedly join the A’s after he clears waivers Wednesday, giving the club added outfield depth in the absence of Coco Crisp, who is expected to rehab from elbow surgery for at least six weeks.

The club has not confirmed the signing.

Ross was released by the D-backs on Saturday and was due $9.5 million, nearly all of which Arizona will cover, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. The A’s will only be responsible for a pro-rated portion of the minimum salary, per the report.

Ross suffered a dislocated hip in late 2013 and underwent surgery. When he returned last season, he hit just .252/.306/.322 with two home runs in 219 plate appearances for the D-backs.

The 34-year-old outfielder has a .263 career average, including .294 against lefties, and has already played with seven clubs in 11 Major League seasons. He’s considered to be an excellent clubhouse presence.

Upon Ross’ arrival, the A’s are likely to option outfielder Billy Burns to Triple-A Nashville.

A’s invite 21 non-roster players to camp

The A’s have extended big-league camp invites to these 21 non-roster players:

C Bryan Anderson*
C Carson Blair
C Luke Carlin*
C Bruce Maxwell

RHP Matt Buschmann
RHP Angel Castro
RHP Brock Huntzinger
RHP Fernando Rodriguez*
RHP Kevin Whelan*
LHP Jim Fuller
LHP Brad Mills*
LHP Rudy Owens*
LHP Ryan Verdugo*
SHP Patrick Venditte

INF Alden Carrithers
INF Max Muncy
INF Matt Olson
INF Andy Parrino*
INF Niuman Romero*
INF Joey Wendle

OF Jason Pridie*

*Has Major League experience

Doolittle to miss start of 2015 season

The A’s are prepared to begin the 2015 season without All-Star closer Sean Doolittle, who has a slight rotator cuff tear in his left shoulder.

The southpaw received a platelet-rich plasma injection in the shoulder last week to decrease inflammation and irritation in the area, and he will be reevaluated at a later date before the A’s determine his next course of action.

“At this point, we have no timeframe for Sean’s return,” assistant general manager David Forst wrote in am e-mail, “but we do not expect him to be ready to start the 2015 season.”

The good news, according to Forst, is that doctors don’t think surgery is necessary.

“[They] believe Sean pitched with this for some amount of time last season,” he said, “and all are confident he can do so again once the inflammation is gone and his strength returns.”

Doolittle will not be available for comment until the club’s FanFest on Feb. 8, but Forst said the pitcher experienced soreness in his throwing shoulder upon beginning his routine offseason throwing program last month.

Lingering soreness led to a visit with the club’s orthopedist, Dr. Doug Freedberg, in Arizona. Freedberg ordered an MRI and, in consulting with Dr. Will Workman in Oakland, the two agreed to a diagnosis and opted for a PRP injection.

Even without Doolittle, who compiled 22 saves and struck out 89 in 62 2/3 innings last year, the A’s still have several candidates to temporarily take over at closer. Newly acquired right-hander Tyler Clippard, who has previously closed for the Nationals, is presumably the top choice. Other options include Eric O’Flaherty and Ryan Cook.

Butler talks about joining A’s on three-year deal

More to come on, but here’s Billy Butler addressing a few topics on his first conference call with reporters after agreeing to a three-year, $30 million deal with the A’s:

Why the A’s?

This is definitely a situation I’ve never been in before. I’ve been with one organization for the last 10 years. There’s a lot of mixed emotions there, coming off the World Series. It’s a tough situation to leave, but from day one of free agency, Billy [Beane] was in contact with my agent showing his interest. I’m a very loyal guy, and him showing that kind of interest in me and expressing his expectations of what I can accomplish and his needs for what my role would be in Oakland, it hit me where it mattered most. He came to me first. I’m a very loyal man, and that kind of stuff goes far with me. I talked to Bob Melvin as well. I just have a good feeling with the group of guys that they have there and have really respected it from the other side for the last few years.

It shows the type of talent, the type of teams they’ve built. I’m happy to be a part of that, and hopefully I can contribute to that and take it to the next level where we can go deeper.

On splitting time between DH and first base:

I’ve always worked real hard at first. Eric Hosmer is obviously a Gold Glover and I played behind him and he obviously deserves to play first. I’m very capable of it. I played well in August. The team played really well. It really sparked what we were doing in Kansas City. I’m not saying it’s the reason why it happened, but it really kind of sparked my offense. Sometimes you just need a change to get your mind off hitting. It kind of makes you go out there and relax. It’s a lot of pressure on you when you’re DH’ing every day and you know you only have four chances a day to help the team, and when you don’t have a good day offensively, you realize you didn’t contribute much. That kind of stuff affects you mentally. Having the ability to go out there gives you that change of mentality that keeps you going. I know I can play first and contribute on a championship level there. I’ve worked really hard to do that, and I’m looking forward to having that opportunity with the A’s.

On his dip in numbers this year:

If I had an explanation for exactly why the power dropped off, I’d fix it right now. I think if you play the game long enough and look at all of the good hitters, they have down years. I believe that’s all it was. I believe I had a little bit of a middle-approach problem at the plate, and at that level you can’t do those type of things and expect to achieve. Granted, I hit .270 and nobody would say that’s a bad year for anybody’s standards, but the numbers I put up the rest of my career would prove that, wow, that’s not up to his par. I take pride in that, and I take pride in getting back to where I was. I’m 28 years old. I’m not on the other side of my career. It was just a year a lot of things didn’t go right for me, just mentally and approach-wise, and I’m going to do everything I can this offseason to get back to where I was and contribute at a high level for the A’s in the middle of the lineup. That’s my role, and I’m going to have the ability to play first base but that’s not why I’m in an Oakland A uniform. I’m in an Oakland A uniform because of my ability to be an impact bat in the middle of the lineup, and that’s what my job is, to drive in runs and be that anchor in the lineup.

A’s, Butler reportedly nearing three-year deal

The A’s are reportedly close to finalizing a three-year, $30 million deal with free-agent designated hitter Billy Butler.

The club has not confirmed the deal, but multiple sources tell that both sides are in serious discussions.

It’s no secret the A’s have been on the hunt for a right-handed power bat following Yoenis Cespedes’ midseason departure to Boston. Butler would bring them just that, and a proven track record as a full-time designated hitter.

Should this deal come together as advertised, Butler would likely assume the same role with the A’s, despite their affinity for platoons.

Even in a down year, Butler still managed to hit .271 with a .323 on-base percentage this season, and he’s just two years removed from an All-Star campaign in which he totaled 29 home runs and 107 RBIs, finishing with a .313 average.

He’s a lifetime .295/.359/.445 hitter, including a .314 average against lefties, compared to .288 vs. righties, in his eight years with the Royals, who snagged him with their first pick (14th overall) in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft.

Butler will be entering his age-29 season and is fresh off his first World Series appearance, after helping the Royals stave off the A’s in a theatrical extra-inning Wild Card game victory that buoyed them to an American League pennant.

A’s announce 2015 Spring Training schedule

The A’s will play 15 of their 30 Cactus League games next year in their new spring home: 10,000-seat Hohokam Stadium, which underwent $26.9 million in renovations. Here’s the full schedule:

Mar. 3 San Francisco Giants 12:05 pm PT
Mar. 4 @ San Francisco Giants 12:05 pm
Mar. 5 @ Chicago Cubs 12:05 pm
Mar. 6 @ Arizona Diamondbacks 12:05 pm
Mar. 7 Los Angeles Angels 12:05 pm
Mar. 8 Chicago White Sox 1:05 pm
Mar. 9 @ Texas Rangers 1:05 pm
Mar. 10 Arizona Diamondbacks 1:05 pm
Mar. 11 Cleveland Indians 1:05 pm
Mar. 12 Seattle Mariners 1:05 pm
Mar. 13 @ Kansas City Royals 1:05 pm
Mar. 14 San Francisco Giants 1:05 pm
Mar. 15 @ Milwaukee Brewers 1:05 pm
Mar. 16 @ Los Angeles Dodgers 1:05 pm
Mar. 17 San Diego Padres 1:05 pm
Mar. 18 @ Seattle Mariners 1:05 pm
Mar. 19 Off Day
Mar. 20 Los Angeles Dodgers (SS) 1:05 pm
@ Colorado Rockies (SS) 1:05 pm
Mar. 21 Cincinnati Reds 1:05 pm
Mar. 22 @ Cincinnati Reds 1:05 pm
Mar. 23 @ Cleveland Indians 1:05 pm
Mar. 24 Chicago Cubs 1:05 pm
Mar. 25 @ Milwaukee Brewers 1:05 pm
Mar. 26 @ San Francisco Giants 1:05 pm
Mar. 27 Texas Rangers 1:05 pm
Mar. 28 @ Chicago White Sox 1:05 pm
Mar.29 Milwaukee Brewers 1:05 pm
Mar. 30 Colorado Rockies 1:05 pm
Mar. 31 @ Los Angeles Angels 1:05 pm
Apr. 1 Los Angeles Angels 12:05 pm
Apr. 2 San Francisco Giants, Site & Time TBD
Apr. 3 San Francisco Giants, Site & Time TBD
Apr. 4 San Francisco Giants, Site & Time TBD

A’s announce 2015 coaching staff

The A’s have promoted from within to fill out their 2015 coaching staff. Notably, Darren Bush has been chosen to replace Chili Davis as hitting coach, after serving as the club’s bullpen coach each of the past two seasons.

Scott Emerson will fill that role, his first Major League coaching assignment following more than a decade as a pitching coach and instructor in the A’s Minor League system, and Marcus Jensen will work dually as an assistant hitting coach and catching coach on manager Bob Melvin’s staff that’s received quite the makeover.

Earlier this week, Mike Aldrete was named Melvin’s new bench coach amid the departure of Chip Hale, who was elected Arizona’s new manager.

There’s still familiarity, though, elsewhere, with pitching coach Curt Young, third base coach Mike Gallego and first base coach Tye Waller all returning in their same capacities next year.

Dunn to start Wild Card Game on bench

KANSAS CITY — A postseason start still eludes 14-year veteran Adam Dunn, who was missing from the A’s lineup in Tuesday’s AL Wild Card Game, despite the Royals throwing a right-hander in James Shields.

The decision, said manager Bob Melvin, was less about his designated hitter and more about his left fielder. Rather than play Brandon Moss in left field, the A’s went with the more speedy and sure-handed Sam Fuld, forcing Moss into the DH spot in place of Dunn.

“That’s a tough decision,” said Melvin, “but it did come into play. It’s a big outfield. It’s a fast opponent. [Fuld] plays the corners great. You’re talking about [starter] Jon Lester, righties that pull the ball, lefties that go the other way, so that definitely factored in.

“ At times we’ll go offense early, defense late, other times we’ll do defense early, which allows us to match up a little bit more so with Adam, too, on the bench a little bit later in the game. So we look at all sides of it when we make up the lineup.”

Dunn has played in 2,001 regular-season games without a postseason appearance, the most among active players and 14th most in Major League history among players with zero postseason games, making Sunday’s clinching win in Texas an emotional moment for him.

That made Tuesday’s conversation with him even tougher for Melvin.

“Look, he just wants to win,” he said. “I’m sure he’s probably disappointed some and wanted to be in there today, but in my experiences with him, he’s all about winning. When I told him when he first got here that he wouldn’t be playing against lefties, he said, ‘It’s fine by me. Whatever I can do to win, and I know that I can impact the game coming off the bench.’

“All our guys know that we do things a little differently here at times, and we’re trying to play for the day. He understands, too, that just because you don’t start a game for us doesn’t mean that you might not be prominent within the course of the game and may have the biggest at‑bat of the game, so he’s ready for that.”

A’s announce Wild Card roster

KANSAS CITY — The A’s have opted to go with eight pitchers on their 25-man roster for tonight’s winner-take-all AL Wild Card Game in Kansas City.

As expected, the A’s are carrying just one extra starter not named Jon Lester, who will take the bump against the Royals for his 12th career postseason start. That would be right-hander Jason Hammel, who last pitched Thursday.

Lefty Drew Pomeranz is also on the roster, giving the A’s two true long men in their bullpen for the affair. They’ll be joined by closer Sean Doolittle, right-handers Luke Gregerson, Dan Otero and Ryan Cook, and left-hander Fernando Abad. Fellow southpaw Eric O’Flaherty is not on the roster because of a reported arm injury.

With just eight roster spots allotted to pitchers, the A’s have a deep bench on hand for the crucial game, featuring a slew of right-handed batters not expected to be in the starting lineup against Kansas City ace James Shields, including Derek Norris, Jonny Gomes and Nate Freiman. Oakland can also counter with switch-hitters Nick Punto and Alberto Callaspo.

Speed is there in pinch-run options Billy Burns and Sam Fuld, and so is infielder Andy Parrino, who provides excellent defense as a backup option to starting shortstop Jed Lowrie.

Pitchers (8): Fernando Abad, Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle, Luke Gregerson, Jason Hammel, Jon Lester, Dan Otero, Drew Pomeranz

Catchers (2): Derek Norris, Geovany Soto

Infielders (10): Alberto Callaspo, Josh Donaldson, Adam Dunn, Nate Freiman, Jed Lowrie, Brandon Moss, Andy Parrino, Nick Punto, Eric Sogard, Stephen Vogt

Outfielders (5): Billy Burns, Coco Crisp, Sam Fuld, Jonny Gomes, Josh Reddick

Donaldson in lineup for potential clinching game

ARLINGTON — A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson has been playing through hip issues, hamstring problems and, more recently, a left knee injury. But he can still walk, and that’s all manager Bob Melvin needs to hear to keep his All-Star in the lineup.

Donaldson, who reinjured the knee in Friday’s win but remained in the game regardless, was reassured by the Rangers’ team doctor Saturday that everything is structurally sound. So he was back in the lineup for Saturday’s potential clincher.

Donaldson said of the knee, “It does feel better,” and vowed to play as close to 100 percent as the knee allows, noting that he’s hardly the fastest guy on the roster as is.

“As long as he can move around, and as you saw last night, probably wasn’t running his normal pace, but he’s able to play out there,” said manager Bob Melvin. “It’s an inspiration to get a guy in the lineup who’s that banged-up and to stay in the lineup like he did last night. I think we all felt good about that.”

Melvin never hesitates when asked about Donaldson’s place in the American League MVP discussion, as he was Saturday. The infielder finished fourth in voting last year and, though his average has slipped from .301 to .253 this year, his WAR rating, as calculated by Fangraphs, is 6.3, tying him with Jose Bautista for fifth in the AL. Mike Trout leads the pack at 8.1.

“What he means for our team is pretty significant, and that’s what you go by,” Melvin said. “Sometimes, if a guy’s not hitting .300 or whatever, nowadays, average probably isn’t the most important thing. It’s production, it’s defense, all of the above. He gives us exactly that. So I would say he’s definitely in the equation.”