Results tagged ‘ Craig Breslow ’

Leftovers from The Day After

The Day After, as in the day following the 2010 season that was, placed Billy Beane inside Bob Geren’s office this morning, informally holding court with a handful of us reporters while the rest of the A’s clubhouse was turning into offseason mode. Most of Beane’s 30-minute session is highlighted in this story on the A’s site, but here’s some leftover bullet points that I figured would best be shared than left idling on a word document on my computer.

  • When asked about individual accomplishments that stood out, Beane first mentioned Trevor Cahill. Said Beane: “When you think about him starting the season on the DL — and he was probably going to start the year in Sacramento anyway — and for him to come out and win 18 games with a sub-three ERA and lead the league in opponents batting average, it’s hard to not look at that and have that one stand out.
  • That said, Beane said he wasn’t so much surprised by Cahill’s success, but more so in how quickly it came about. Same for Gio Gonzalez. “Both just developed so quick. This was where I hoped they’d be a year from now.”
  • Meanwhile, Beane admitted Craig Breslow was a pleasant surprise. Breslow ranked second among AL relievers with 75 games pitched, tied for fourth with 74 2/3 innings and tied for sixth with 71 strikeouts. “I think Craig not only established himself as a valuable member of the club, but he also brings a real balance and intellectual leadership for these young guys,” Beane said. “He’s the kind of guy who, as a general manager, is the kind of mature leadership you like these kids to be around. I know he’s been voted the smartest guy in the league, but to be around him every day, you really see how he carries and conducts himself, and how guys really turn to him.”
  • When approached about the long-term plan for Chris Carter, Beane said “I think it’s our intention” to keep him in the outfield. Continued Beane: “Daric Barton has solidified himself at first, and I think Chris is a good enough athlete to make the transition. He really just went out there a couple weeks before he came up, so I think we need to give him some time. He does have power. So getting back to Daric, he showed himself to be, in my opinion, the best first baseman in the league. He’s also made significant strides offensively. I was quite pleased with what he did there this year, and I have no intention of taking him off first base.” That’s quite a bold statement and only proves the club’s intent to stick with Barton.
  • With Carter slated to be the club’s Opening Day left fielder next year — though Beane noted he doesn’t want to make a definitive statement regarding that notion — the A’s could be looking at an outfield of Carter in left, Coco Crisp in center and Ryan Sweeney in right. It’s likely the A’s will pick up Crisp’s 2011 club option, and they “feel pretty good” about Sweeney’s ability to be ready by season’s start following knee rehab. However, Beane noted a lot of the outfield makeup “depends on if there are any adds as well. Some of the dynamics of the outfield will be affected by any trades or signings.”
  • Finally, general thoughts from Beane on moving forward: “I

    think
    we’re excited about the offseason. We came in with the youngest team in the big
    leagues, and we left with the youngest team in the big leagues, but I think we
    did some things and accomplished some things that you wouldn’t normally
    anticipate with a team with this kind of youth and experience. To have the No.
    1 pitching staff in the American League is difficult no matter what your
    payroll is, and to do it with these kids and their inexperience is quite a
    statement and quite a building block for us going forward.”

That’s all I’ve got for you today, but you can regularly check this blog along with the A’s site throughout the offseason for all your A’s news.

Sheets, Bailey and crickets, oh my

Maybe Sheets won’t be retiring after all…at least that’s the impression I got after he spent some time chatting from Louisiana with reporters today. He understands he’s 32 and, with another flexor tendon surgery, likely wouldn’t be able to return to the field until the 2012 season. But this guy has a real love for the game- you saw it on the field with his fiery mound demeanor, and I had the privilege of seeing it off the field in the clubhouse. So even though I said yesterday it wouldn’t surprise me if he opted for retirement, which I still don’t think is out of the question, I should have added that it wouldn’t surprise me if he underwent another procedure. If he forgoes the surgery, I’d love to see him coaching – not necessarily at the big league level but perhaps college or even a Little League team. He’d be awesome in that role – he loves to win, and he knows how to do it while having fun. Plus he’s got two boys of his own, and he seems to be great with them. Ben said he plans to be around the A’s clubhouse next week and for much of the rest of the season, so I’m sure he’ll keep us updated on what’s in store for his future.

In other news, Andrew Bailey is proving that the injury bug is still alive and well in the A’s clubhouse. All reports indicated his back was improving, and he even said yesterday he could “probably” pitch in a game if need be. But today Geren said he’s still day-to-day, and I’m wondering if the A’s would be best suited to give him time on the DL to fully recover. After all, back injuries should not be messed with – just ask Eric Chavez. Brett Anderson will officially be activated from the DL to start against Chicago on Friday, so the A’s could potentially place Bailey on the DL tomorrow and, in the meantime, simply hand over his roster spot to Anderson. Then again, they just might wait it out with Bailey, as they did with Mark Ellis and Conor Jackson before finally sending them to the DL. Either way, this isn’t time to sport a depleted bullpen. Craig Breslow and Michael Wuertz have already been handed a large work load this week, and the A’s can’t expect to run them out there every single night.

On a slightly less serious note, I personally can’t wait to get out of Texas, where flying – yes, flying – crickets have taken over. They’re on the field, in the dugout, in the press box, in the parking lot, in my dreams….everywhere. And they’re nasty little things. Well, they’re actually pretty big. Anyway, Chicago may be just as warm as Texas, but I can manage so long as crickets aren’t involved.

A’s send Mazzaro, Taylor, Carter to Minors

Vin Mazzaro, Michael Taylor and Chris Carter, all pretty significant pieces to the A’s future puzzle, were sent down Saturday morning. Here’s part of the story that will be up at the A’s site shortly:

The news of
Mazzaro didn’t come as much of a surprise after manager Bob Geren all but ruled
him out of the mix during his daily media session Saturday morning, during
which he was asked about the way the starter battle was shaping up.

“Both are
doing a nice job,” Geren said. “We’re going to hold off until the end to
decide.”

Both presumably referred to Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez, but the A’s skipper
switched subjects before saying he would have more to discuss by the end of the
day.

Minutes
later, though, Mazzaro was found packing his bags, leaving little speculation
surrounding Geren’s hush answers.

“I’m going
to go down to the Minor Leagues and work hard and get back up here,” Mazzaro
said. “I felt I had done a pretty good job, but someone’s got to go, right?”

 With Mazzaro out of the picture, all eyes will
focus on Cahill and Gonzalez in the final week of camp as the A’s continue to
trim down their roster and set the starting rotation. Oakland now has 37
players remaining in camp, including three non-roster invitees, after sending down
Mazzaro, Carter and Taylor.

The latter
two, both watched closely this spring, could very well make their big league
debuts this year, Geren said. For the time being, though, the A’s are more than
set at first base and in the outfield. Daric Barton is enjoying a successful
spring at first, where Eric Chavez is also playing regularly. As for the
outfield, Oakland has several options in the form of Gabe Gross, Travis Buck,
Eric Patterson and Jake Fox.

The A’s won’t
soon forget about Taylor or Carter, though.

“Both are
very impressive young men, obviously both on the field and off,” Geren said. “They’re
both off the chart type players. They’re guys that can create their own
opportunities and dominate at this level. I let them know just that.”

__________________________

In other news: Both Andrew Bailey and Craig Breslow, both rehabbing from minor elbow setbacks, could potentially throw in a game Sunday or Monday. … Dallas Braden received an antibiotic prescription for the red, streaky bump he found on his left shin yesterday and is hoping it’s a bug bite. He should be good to go for his next start Wednesday.
 

Duke starts, Crisp back in lineup

Lots of tidbits to share this morning, but first your starting lineup vs. the Mariners in Peoria:

Crisp DH, Barton 1B, Suzuki C, Kouz 3B, Sweeney RF, Patterson CF, Gross LF, Rosales 2B, Pennington SS, Duchscherer SP

  • Mark Ellis was scratched from today’s lineup due to tightness in both hamstrings. Adam Rosales is now in there playing second base. If there was ever such a thing as a good time for this kind of injury, it’s now – the A’s have tomorrow and most of Wednesday morning off before playing the Giants that night.
  • Brett Anderson was scheduled to make his fourth spring start Monday, but he woke up with neck stiffness so he’ll pitch in a Minor League game tomorrow. Therefore, Justin Duchscherer will not only make his first pitching appearance today, but he’ll make his first start since 2008. As a result, it appears the pitching rotation is taking form and could look something like this come Opening Day: Ben Sheets, Dallas Braden, Duchscherer, Anderson, [insert fifth starter]. That’s a nice R-L-R-L in the first four slots, and assuming Trevor Cahill grabs that last spot, another righty could fill the rotation. Anderson will pitch in the Double-A game tomorrow while Gio Gonzalez will get his work in at the Triple-A game over at Papago Park on the team’s scheduled off day.
  • As you can see, Coco Crisp is back in the lineup today after having been sidelined with a strained left hamstring March 10. Manager Bob Geren said both he and Rajai Davis will start Wednesday’s night game against the visiting Dodgers in the outfield, marking the first time all spring we could potentially be seeing the same outfield slated to start Opening Night.
  • The A’s have another night game Thursday at the Giants’ stadium in Scottsdale, where Jason Jennings will make his second start. Earlier in the day, Sheets will toss six innings in a Minor League game to “make sure he gets his six ups and downs in a controlled environment,” Geren said. 
  • Joey Devine, Craig Breslow and Andrew Bailey are all throwing today. Devine threw yesterday at 80 feet and said he’s going to attempt 100 feet this morning. The right-hander will then take Tuesday off and resume flat ground throwing Wednesday. He’s hoping to throw off the mound by the end of the week and resume his throwing program by next week. Meanwhile, Breslow and Bailey are slated to throw sides on Wednesday, which is good news for the recently injury-prone bullpen.
  • Not so good news came in the form of John Meloan’s elbow, which will require season-ending surgery. The 25-year-old righty pitched in just two games this spring for a total of 1 2/3 innings, in which he allowed four hits and two earned runs. He’ll soon visit with Dr. James Andrews, who has performed Tommy John surgery on a few current A’s players, including Bailey, Devine and Josh Outman.  

Wuertz back in action; Braden goes five

Michael Wuertz showed off his multitasking
talents today by balancing nine-month-old son Braxton in one arm while talking
to reporters about his first spring appearance. The A’s righty gave up two
hits, a walk and a run in his outing but said he felt good and saw results
he was expecting. “That’s kind of always how my Spring Training games have
gone,” he said. Since Wuertz missed the first couple weeks of spring with
shoulder soreness, he’s still building up arm strength and, subsequently, can’t
get much out of his slider right now. He said he threw three in the frame, one
that was taken for a hit and another that led to a walk. At the same time,
Wuertz said he expected it to be that way, so he heavily relied on his
changeup. He mentioned his shoulder felt fine and, at the end of the day, “it
was just good to get out in game action, especially against another colored
uniform.” Meanwhile, manager Bob Geren

called it a “decent first outing.”

 

Slightly in
the shadows of Wuertz’ outing was Dallas
Braden
, who started the game and threw close to 80 pitches in five innings
of work. He gave up three runs (two earned) on eight hits while fanning half a
dozen and was quite pleased with his fastball command and changeup. However, he
wasn’t too thrilled with his fielding. Braden committed an error by missing a
catch and noted he felt rather “embarrassed” and “disappointed” since pitchers
spend half of their spring doing fielding drills.

 

Braden also
talked about how his numb foot affected him for the first time in a game
situation this spring. He lost his balance on a pitch to Chris Dickerson in the fifth because he couldn’t feel how far back he was. The southpaw half-heartedly reached out to reporters for ideas to ease his foot, as he’s already
using insoles, metal plates and toe guards, among other things. “I think a
witch doctor is coming tomorrow with a bucket of chicken,” he joked. Braden isn’t
too worried about the foot, though. After all, he may never regain feeling in
it. “I can’t just wait around for it,” he said. “I’ve got baseballs to throw.”

Dribblers: Coco Crisp is slated to be back in the lineup tomorrow after having been diagnosed with a strained left hamstring March 10. He’ll likely DH before making his first spring start in the outfield the next game. … Rajai Davis (sore abdomen) took batting practice Sunday and told me he was planning on doing all baseball activity. He should be back in tomorrow’s lineup as well. … Rehabbing pitchers Joey Devine (shoulder) and Craig Breslow (elbow) played catch today, and there’s a possibility Andrew Bailey (elbow) will pick up a ball tomorrow.

Saturday starters

Lineup vs. visiting Cubs: Patterson CF, Pennington SS, Ellis 2B, Suzuki C, Barton 1B, Cust DH, Gross LF, Buck RF, Petit 3B, Sheets SP

Lineup at Indians: Rosales SS, Sweeney DH, Kouzmanoff 3B, Chavez 1B, Taylor LF, Brown CF, Powell C, Carson RF, Cardenas 2B, Jennings SP (Mazzaro to follow)

Some pregame notes:

Michael Wuertz, who has yet to pitch in a game, is slated to make his Cactus League debut Sunday against the visiting Reds. Dallas Braden will start the game.

Fellow rehabbing pitcher Craig Breslow will play catch from a distance of 80-120 feet today. The lefty is nursing medial tendinitis but is not expected to be out much longer. Meanwhile, no word on when Andrew Bailey (tennis elbow) will throw, but it could be soon.

Coco Crisp (hamstring/shoulder) could potentially be back in the lineup Sunday or Monday. Like I’ve mentioned before, he’ll probably DH his first game and then attempt to play defense for the first time all spring in the following game.

In order to stay on his throwing schedule, Gio Gonzalez – who last threw Thursday — will pitch in a Minor League game Tuesday on the team’s off day.

As a side note, the A’s on Saturday announced their 2010 ad campaign, titled “Green Collar Baseball,” and delivered a sneak peak of the commercials to the media. It’s pretty easy to make me laugh, but I have to admit that these ads are truly funny. Between Mark Ellis dressed in an 1870s uniform, Trevor Cahill staring down Dave Stewart and Bailey questioning something about a “nipple clipper,” there are plenty humorous moments to go around. More details on these ads, which will be online at the A’s site by season’s start, can be found here soon. Props to Hub Strategy, an advertising agency that teamed with the A’s, for their creativity on these.

Inside the training room

The A’s sure made up for their off day Tuesday by providing plenty of news on the injury front first thing Wednesday morning. For those who can’t keep track of it all, here’s a quick rundown:

  • Andrew Bailey is out five to seven days with lateral epicondylitis, a condition usually caused by overuse that involves soreness on the outside of the upper arm near the elbow.
  • Craig Breslow will not throw two to four days as he treats medial tendinitis in his elbow.
  • Joey Devine was supposed to play catch for the first time in a week after experiencing tendinitis in his surgically repaired elbow, but he took another day off and will attempt to throw “free and easy” up to 80 feet on Thursday.
  • Justin Duchscherer tossed three innings (45 pitches) in a Minor League intrasquad game Wednesday morning and came out of it feeling great. He’s hoping to make his Cactus League debut Monday when the A’s travel to play the Mariners and believes he’ll be good to go come the start of the season.
  • Michael Wuertz has yet to pitch in a game and was scratched from his scheduled appearance in the same intrasquad game in which Duchscherer pitched. Manager Bob Geren said the right-hander’s shoulder isn’t bouncing back well, but after checking in with Wuertz this afternoon, it sounds like he could see game action as early as tomorrow. He mentioned he deals with this same shoulder issue every spring after getting in a lot of work the year before but believes 19 days (the time between now and Opening Day) is plenty of time to get on track.
  • Rajai Davis was a late scratch in Wednesday’s game due to what was announced as tenderness in his left quadriceps. He was replaced in center field by Eric Patterson.
  • Coco Crisp continues to progress with his strained left hamstring and is still following his throwing program to get his surgically repaired shoulder ready for Opening Day. Crisp has only seen time in the DH spot this spring.

That should do it. Hopefully I’ll hear more on Davis by the end of the day. The news about Bailey and Breslow took everyone by surprise this morning, but I think both will be back on the mound in no time. As for Wuertz, I wasn’t too convinced about him being Opening-Day ready, but after speaking with him, it sounds he’ll be just fine.

And not that there’s anything funny about either of Bailey or Breslow’s injuries, but I find it slightly amusing that both are experiencing elbow soreness at the same time. It was just a couple days ago I was joking with them that they seem to be attached at the hip. Wherever you see Bailey, usually Breslow is close by, and vice versa. Even during the offfseason, the two pitchers lived just 10 minutes from one another in Connecticut and worked out with each other almost every day. They’re also roommates here in Arizona…and now training room buddies.  

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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