Results tagged ‘ Bob Geren ’

Postgame quick hits

Notes from today’s intrasquad game (which ended with a 5-3 score, but who’s keeping track?):

Coco Crisp, as expected, filled the DH role today. After the game, manager Bob Geren said Crisp won’t be starting in the outfield “for a while” — most likely not until the end of Spring Training in order to give him time to complete rehab of his surgically-repaired shoulder.

Geren noted that both Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden threw well. Braden, especially, was sharp with his control. “Considering he’s had the most time off,” Geren said, “he threw exceptional.”

Michael Taylor tallied two hits — both which were hit extremely hard — and an RBI while getting time in left field. Other top prospect Chris Carter played an inning at first and even held Taylor there at one point during the game. Makes you wonder when the two of them will play on the same field in Oakland.

Geren wasn’t too impressed — but mostly indifferent — with some of the younger pitchers, including Pedro Figueroa, John Meloan, Fautino De Los Santos and Fernando Hernandez. But, “it was their first time out there, so the command wasn’t where it needs to be.” However, the A’s skipper did note that he liked what he saw from Tyson Ross, who threw a “real good” slider, cutter and fastball.

Kevin Kouzmanoff didn’t see any action because of a bruised right shin, but he told me this afternoon that he should be good to go tomorrow. The bruise came from what Kouz described as a “really hard-hit line drive” off the bat of Adam Rosales. He couldn’t run today, but he did manage to hit … and get some dishes done in the A’s kitchen. “This is what they make you do when you’re not playing,” he joked.

Sunday notes: Sheets, Cahill and more

Tidbits from a rather quiet Sunday that saw way too much rain pound Phoenix Muni for the majority of the day:

Ben Sheets threw live BP and said everything felt great. Among those who stood in against him: Ryan Sweeney, Daric Barton, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Jake Fox. As I’ve noted before, Sheets has turned out to be quite the character around the clubhouse. On the mound, though, he turns into a completely different creature. Very intense. Less than five minutes after walking off the mound, though, he was back to his joking self. And if anything, he learned to stay away from the Mexican burrito spread right before he heads out to throw…

Bob Geren was very impressed with Trevor Cahill’s BP session today and said his performance was “the best I’ve seen from him.” Looked like he had all his pitches working for him, and he was getting quite the response from guys watching him in the dugout.

As you’ve probably already read here, the A’s signed veteran right-handers Jason Jennings and Brett Tomko today. Buzz is already circulating about what these moves mean for the current pitching staff. Are these additions simply Billy Beane’s way of adding more depth to a team with a longstanding injury history, or might this bring to question Justin Duchscherer and Sheets’ health? Hard to say right now, but I’d like to hear your thoughts.

I was told today that the A’s exhibition opener against the Cubs on Thursday will be on the radio for the first time in more than a decade. So for those of you within range of KTRB-860 in the Bay Area, you’ll be able to listen to all the sights and sounds of Oakland’s opener.

And if you didn’t get a chance to see this video of Rickey Henderson lending some advice to Rajai Davis, make sure you do so.

One final note to leave with you: As Jayson Stark observed today, this is the last Sunday without a baseball game to watch until November 7.

Wednesday warmups

11:20 a.m.: Not much news out of A’s camp this morning when we met with Bob Geren, so we spent most of his pre-stretch media session talking about some of the intricacies of the game, which brought up the memorable base running blunders in the 2003 playoffs against the Red Sox. Always good to get Geren animated and out of his shell a bit. Anyways, some morning tidbits for you:

Justin Duchscherer, who underwent a nerve ablation process to alleviate pain in his SI joint yesterday, showed up in the clubhouse this morning very much still out of it, but said he’ll come out tomorrow and see how he feels. He’s only a couple days behind the other pitchers, so he’s not too worried about the setback. “I have six weeks,” he said.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser asked Jake Fox this morning if he had any options left. Us media had been told that Fox did have an option left, but come to find out he actually doesn’t. That very much changes the complexity of camp regarding bench spots. If Eric Chavez calls it a career this spring, Fox’s spot on the roster is pretty much guaranteed. But if Chavez deems himself healthy for the season, Fox’s future might not be so certain. The team would like to have Adam Rosales around to spell the middle infielders, so Fox’s chances of making the team will heavily depend on Chavez. If the A’s want to send him to the Minors, he must first clear waivers. Same for Eric Patterson, who was consider the team’s only player out of options before this Fox news surfaced today.

Left-hander Lenny DiNardo, who has been dealing with a strained arch in his left foot, is “50 percent better than yesterday,” Geren said. At the pace he’s going, the manager said DiNardo should be out and about again in a day or two.

BP just got underway, and it looks like Travis Buck and Daric Barton are among those getting some hacks in today. Rajai Davis flew in from Connecticut yesterday and made his first appearance today, leaving just a couple position players left to report. Official reporting date for position players is tomorrow. Kevin Kouzmanoff and Jack Cust are two of the big names yet to be seen around camp yet…

Tuesday tidbits

Evening update: Some leftovers from today:

Joey Devine threw 20 pitches today and told me he’s feeling more comfortable every time out there. Geren didn’t get a chance to see him throw but said Devine is “50-50″ for Opening Day. It’s safe to assume the right-hander won’t be appearing in any spring games during the first week, but Geren noted that even if he doesn’t see action the first week or two, he can still stay on schedule to be ready by season’s start.

I finally asked Ben Sheets how he managed to get Ryan Sweeney’s No. 15 — the number Sheets has worn for as long as he can remember. “I know people,” Sheets said with a big smile. He didn’t even have to talk to Sweeney before the outfielder handed it over, but Sheets said he still owes something to his new teammate for the number. “My kids saw me at the press conference on TV and were crying, saying, ‘Daddy, you said you’d be wearing No. 15! That’s No. 21…” The A’s roster now has Sweeney as No. 21.

As discussed extensively in this article, Eric Chavez took some grounders at first with infield coach Mike Gallego looking on. I watched him from the dugout and noticed some footwork trouble, but Chavez brought up the matter after while talking to media and recognizes the fact that improved footwork, like he learned from Ron Washington, can boost his defense skills. That said, he’s 100 percent committed to helping the team this season. In the two short years I’ve known Eric, he’s always been completely honest, and I can truly say he’s really excited — giddy even — about the possibilities ahead of him. Chavez obviously had great years at third base, but he knows those days are behind him, so he’s ready to embrace the utility role. He said he’ll spend some time taking balls at shortstop this spring, but Geren noted he’d like Chavez to focus on hitting and first base for the time being. And if you’re wondering about how his body is responding at the plate, Chavez said he’s ready to face live pitchers.

Among the other position players (who officially report Thursday) at the park today: Mark Ellis, Ryan Sweeney, Travis Buck, Daric Barton, newcomer Adam Rosales, Chris Carter, Mychael Taylor, Coco Crisp and Cliff Pennington. Also met infielder Steven Tolleson, who the A’s claimed off waivers from Minnesota this offseason. He played with Landon Powell at South Carolina and also competed against Pennington in college. Tolleson said he’s just excited about a change of scenery…    

10:30 a.m.: From a cold Tuesday morning chat with manager Bob Geren here at Phoenix Muni:

Non-roster lefty Lenny DiNardo has been sidelined with a strained arch in his left foot. He’s day-to-day and Geren noted that the injury is nothing serious.

If all goes according to plan, newcomer Ben Sheets’ first start will come against his former team, Milwaukee, on March 5. Sheets, along with Trevor Cahill, was scheduled to throw a bullpen today, but both have been pushed to tomorrow for no other reason than to have them lined up for their starts. The Brewers matchup will feature quite a few recognizable faces: former Oakland manager Ken Macha, pitching coach Rick Peterson and third base coach Brad Fischer.

Joey Devine, as noted before, told me this morning that everything’s still going great with his rehab schedule. The current plan for him is to throw 30 pitches on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Justin Duchscherer’s procedure should get going in about 45 minutes, so hopefully I’ll have an update on him this afternoon…   

Update on Duchscherer

4:00 p.m.: Justin Duchscherer’s scheduled nerve ablation procedure for noon today has been delayed until tomorrow at 11:30am, according to Bob Geren — who couldn’t say why it was moved back. The A’s right-hander has been dealing with an irritated sacroiliac joint, which connects the base of the spine to the pelvic bone. He was bothered by the same problem last year while rehabbing from minor elbow surgery and has had three cortisone shots for the joint, but it is no longer responding to the treatment. The ablation will burn off the nerve ends of his SI joint using radio waves to produce heat that will destroy the nerve and relieve the pain. The right-hander insists it’s a minor setback and was told that recovery time usually varies from one day to one week, but the team has to be concerned given his injury history. Plus, the burnt nerve will eventually grow back, so it is possible Duchscherer will have to undergo the procedure again sometime down the line.

Also from Geren: Dallas Braden, one of 13 guys to take in a bullpen session today, threw 35 pitches and “looked good.” When I asked Braden about how his healing foot responded, he replied: “The arm feels great.” … Also making a strong impression was Tyson Ross. “His delivery looks cleaner and cleaner every time he’s out there,” Geren said. … While passing by, pitching coach Curt Young noted that both Pedro Figueroa and Fautino De Los Santos had good outings. The latter, who the A’s will be careful with because he had elbow surgery in 2008, showed off his breaking ball inbetween some hard strikes.

Weather forecasts indicate the rain may be gone for good, so the A’s will presumably be back out on the field tomorrow morning at 9:30 for stretching at Phoenix Muni. Three days ’til position players report…

Monday morning notes

10:40 a.m.: Thanks to a pretty steady rainfall in Phoenix this morning, the A’s packed up their equipment at Phoenix Muni about an hour ago and headed to Papago Park, where they’ll skip PFP (pitchers fielding practice) and simply stretch and do some conditioning before pitchers begin their throwing programs. Among those scheduled to throw bullpens today are the recovering Dallas Braden, along with Gio Gonzalez, Andrew Bailey and Craig Breslow.

Bob Geren talked with reporters this morning for a good while before venturing over to Papago. Some noteworthy comments from the skipper:

As I mentioned Saturday, Jake Fox has been in camp helping catch bullpens. When asked about Fox’s catching abilities, Geren said he definitely wants to see what the newcomer can do behind the plate. “That’s why he’s here,” Geren stated. The A’s manager said Fox will be catching a few Spring Training games when not getting time as DH or at the corner infield slots and even left field. Geren threw BP to Fox yesterday and said he likes the way he hits. “You can tell a lot about how a guy approaches the plate during BP,” Geren said. Fox will be fighting for a utility spot with Eric Chavez and Adam Rosales this spring.

Max Stassi, the youngest guy in camp at age 18 (he was born in 1991!), has already made quite the impression on Geren, who will be watching the young catcher closely. Geren, once a big league catcher himself, says he usually forges a strong bond with catchers. “He doesn’t have the appearance of being 18 years old,” Geren said. “You would think he’s much older.” Stassi will have plenty to learn behind the plate alongside Kurt Suzuki and Landon Powell, but Geren said the team will be careful with how they approach his offensive game. “We don’t tend to make major adjustments with someone of that age,” he said.

As a side note, newly acquired outfielder Coco Crisp and his playful personality showed up to camp today, as did Chris Carter, who will be watched closely this spring. Justin Duchscherer’s nerve ablation procedure is schedule for noon, so hopefully I’ll have more on him by the end of the day.

And even though Ben Sheets insisted yesterday that he “hates” Spring Training, he was quite eager to get on the field this morning about a half hour before stretching was scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. “What are we waiting for?” he announced. “I could have slept in a bit longer this morning. I’m ready to go right now!”

Pitchers and catchers report: Rainy day roundup

Seems like just a day ago I was teasing my sister about the rain she was getting in Northern California. And there I was, texting her from my patio while working under the perfect 75-degree sun in Arizona. Silly me, for not thinking karma would actually come back to get me so soon. But such was the case this morning as I stepped out of the car bright and early on pitchers/catchers reporting day under dark clouds just waiting to topple me with big, cold raindrops. Out of courtesy, they waited a whole hour before letting loose, but that didn’t help the fact I was standing sans umbrella and rain coat while waiting for A’s players to enter and leave the clubhouse facilities, which were closed all day due to physicals. Luckily, all seven of us media people didn’t have to shiver much longer before being allowed to stand in a small hallway just around the corner from the clubhouse. The players must have loved it, as we created somewhat of a red carpet entrance by standing on both sides of the walkway. At the same time, they must have also rolled their eyes after passing us, knowing full well it would be hard to escape without coming back from their physicals to talk to us. A few got by, but we did catch up with several notable guys. Here’s a good-size collection of what I heard today:

Bob Geren reported that Justin Duchscherer has been experiencing stiffness off and on in his lower back for a couple of weeks, the most recent time being this morning after throwing a 20-pitch bullpen session yesterday. He’ll be reevaluated tomorrow morning before pitchers and catchers begin their first official workouts at 9:45 a.m. Geren didn’t sound overly concerned, but the team must be slightly worried given Justin’s history with back injuries. Should be interesting to see if he is limited to certain activities tomorrow. 

Ben Sheets held an informal media session after his physical and appeared very confident heading into tomorrow’s workouts with zero restrictions. He is following the same throwing program as the other A’s pitchers and will throw his second bullpen session (his first one came Friday) tomorrow. The A’s big offseason acquisition admitted it was a little strange “putting on the green” after being in Milwaukee for so long, but he said he’s excited for the challenge of a new league. Sheets added that he tries different things every spring but usually comes out of it with the same two pitches (fastball and curveball) he’s used since he was 11 years old. “They ask about the changeup and I’m usually eh about it,” he said. “I’ll throw it here and there.” He’s tried all forms of a cutter but insists they all look the same – “straight as a string.” However, he might try learning what he called his 12th cutter since he likes what he sees of Duchscherer’s cutter. Said Sheets: “I believe in location and a breaking ball, and we’ll go from there.”

On another note, Sheets said he attended the Super Bowl. He grew up a life-long Saints fan and even used to wear a Saints jersey to the ballpark every Sunday when he played with the Brewers. We’ll have to see if that tradition continues here in Oakland. Sheets on the game: “Great results. Maybe I’ll get that feeling soon.” A’s fans can only hope…

Vin Mazzaro has completely recovered from the shoulder tendinitis that shut down his season early last year. Like every other pitcher (aside from maybe Duchscherer now), he is not limited in any way.

Brett Anderson told us he’d like to work on his changeup to have another weapon against right-handed hitters. He said he feels a little more relaxed entering camp knowing that he has a better grip on job security, which allows him the chance to work on different aspects of his game. Brett recently turned 22 and celebrated with family and friends at a dinner in Stillwater, Okla., where he spent his offseason.

The always entertaining Dallas Braden provided a much-needed 20 minutes worth of comic relieve for us reporters in the hallway. First of all, on a more serious note, he spoke of the left foot that caused him to put a hold on his season last year after only 22 starts. He still feels lingering effects from the nerve irritation that developed last year and still has no feeling in two of his toes. On top of that, Braden had a nasal endoscopy in December because of a deviated septum and resulting breathing problems. He can now breathe and sleep comfortably, but that wasn’t before he experienced a few days of post-procedure effects. If you don’t like blood, I advise you to skip to the next paragraph, but this story is too good not to share. After his operation, Braden had to keep a cotton ball under his nose. One day, his grandmother ran to the store to get more cotton balls and Dallas decided to remove the one he had on. The result: a “waterfall” of blood everywhere. He called his grandma and yelled: “You gotta come back here. I don’t know what’s going on. You gotta take me to the hospital.” Upon grandma’s return, blood was all over the sink and she thought he had shot someone or something. Now, a flood of blood should normally not be so humorous, but leave it to Dallas to make it such.

Josh Outman, another recovering pitcher, talked about his recovery from Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery and the resulting surgical effects in the form of shoulder soreness, which shut him down for six weeks. However, he says he still plans to be back with the team by midseason — hopefully in the rotation rather than the bullpen. For more on Outman, see a full story on him later tonight at the A’s site.

Heard more from Michael Taylor today. He basically said he’s going to be the best he can be to win a roster spot, but if the team doesn’t deem him ready, that’s OK too because it will give him more to work on at Triple-A Sacramento. With all the outfield commotion going on this spring, I see Taylor starting the year in Sacramento, mostly because I believe the A’s want to preserve his service time and make sure he’s up for good once he arrives. Until that time, I suspect he’ll tear it up with the River Cats.

We also talked to Andrew Bailey for a bit. He once again described his whirlwind of an offseason and how he’s not taking anything for granted this spring despite a guaranteed roster spot. “There are guys here like me last year,” he said. “You never know who’s behind you.” Bailey spent the offseason working out with fellow bullpen mate Craig Breslow, whose offseason home was about 10 minutes from Bailey’s.

Position players spotted in camp today: Eric Chavez, Mark Ellis, Eric Patterson, Cliff Pennington, Landon Powell and Travis Buck

That should do it for now. Expect more tomorrow as pitchers and catchers begin workouts at Phoenix Municipal, where I’ll be reporting from all day — hopefully under the sun. Take care, and enjoy what’s left of your Saturday night.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for lots of updates throughout my days in camp. It’s a perfect way to stay connected to the team as news unfolds: http://twitter.com/JaneMLB

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Count your outfielders

All is apparently not quiet on the Western Front. Talks of the A’s in pursuit of one-time Oakland player Johnny Damon have fizzled this weekend, but according to multiple reports — including FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal and ESPN’s Buster Olney — the club is now in “serious discussions” with free-agent outfielder Gabe Gross. The 30-year-old Gross, who hit .227 with six homers and 36 games for Tampa Bay last year, would presumably offer the A’s a left-handed option off the bench and yet another backup outfielder.

Over the past couple weeks, both Beane and Geren have boasted about what could shape up to be the best defensive outfield in the league with Davis in LF, Crisp in CF and Sweeney in RF. The A’s also have the highly touted Michael Taylor waiting in line, not to mention options in Eric Patterson and Travis Buck — the latter who the A’s seem to have lost a lot of hope on, especially if a Gross signing gets done. So with the A’s entering camp with more outfielders than some can count, it begs the question of why Beane is so interested in signing an outfielder rather than what he calls a much-needed utility infielder.

At the same time, it’s Beane. And where his mind goes at this time of the year is anybody’s guess. After all, it’s fair to say the Ben Sheets signing didn’t make much sense — considering the pitching depth — before the deal came into fruition. And now that it has, it makes great sense barring any injury. But Gross is not Sheets. And he’s not Crisp. Or Kouzmanoff. So what gives?

Sheets, Damon on As radar

All those thinking the A’s rotation is
the one area need not be touched heading into Spring Training, think again.
Recent reports are pointing toward a possible Ben Sheets signing in Oakland.

The 31-year-old free agent, who missed
all of 2009 because of elbow surgery, threw a pitching session in front of
several scouts and team officials — including those from Oakland — on Jan. 19
at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. His fastball topped out at 92 mph,
and his curveball was highly affective.

Now, almost one week later, the A’s are
apparently very much still interested despite Sheets’ desire for a guaranteed
$8 million in 2010. And while Billy Beane declined to comment, citing his
policy against discussing free agents, multiple reports say Oakland is
definitely in the mix. Other teams reportedly in a bidding war for the
right-hander include the Mets and Rangers.

The A’s do have some money to spend,
and Sheets would not only offer the A’s an added veteran presence in a very
young rotation, but also provide the club with some trade bait (Gonzalez?
Mazzaro?) to aide in their efforts in landing a power-hitting SS – the one area
on the field where depth is missing.

So while the Sheets interest may seem
somewhat of a head-scratcher at first glance, the notion doesn’t seem too crazy
upon further review – especially when Billy’s involved. However, the team is
also linked to an even stranger idea: Could Johnny Damon be back for a second
tour with the A’s if the Sheets signing doesn’t go down? Doesn’t quite make
much sense, but reports say it’s a definite maybe.

Last week at A’s Media Day, Geren
insisted he may have one of the best — if not, the best — defensive outfields
in the league with Davis in LF, Crisp in CF and Sweeney in RF. Damon’s not
exactly Gold Glove material out there, and he wouldn’t be much of a need at DH
either with Cust, Fox and (hopefully) Chavez already as options there.

Needless to say, the A’s roster could
be slapped with some changes by week’s end. Should be interesting to see how it
all plays out.

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