Results tagged ‘ Mark Ellis ’

A’s pick up options on Crisp, Ellis

I just confirmed what Coco Crisp already announced on Twitter in the early hours of the morning: the A’s are picking up his $5.75 million option for next season. They’ve also retained franchise player Mark Ellis, picking up his $6 million option.

Both decisions were very much expected. Crisp’s lineup presence — when healthy — was a strong facet of Oakland’s game this season. His year was interrupted by injury three times, two of which were simply of the unlucky sort — fractured left pinkie finger in April and September sustained when sliding into a base. But when healthy, Crisp undoubtedly posted some of the best numbers on the team, hitting .279 with eight home runs, 38 RBIs and a career-high 32 stolen bases in 75 games. By keeping Crisp in the fold for 2011, the A’s are getting a huge leadoff threat and a strong defensive body in the outfield. 
Ellis, meanwhile, is a staple of this team. Thanks in part to a ridiculously good September, he finished the 2010 season with a team-best .291 average. His average has increased in each of his last two seasons, though his home run totals have decreased three straight years. Still, what Ellis gives to the club defensively is unmatched. He committed just three errors in 116 games at second base this year, ranking second in the AL only to Robinson Cano. Furthermore, his leadership abilities on this club go beyond any stat.
More on these announcements to come.

Twitter: @JaneMLB

Postgame quick hits: An absent offense

Jack Cust’s struggles were mentioned in my previous post, but he’s not the only one battling at the plate right now, as evidenced by tonight’s three-hit showing against Minnesota’s Brian Duensing. Cust’s troubles just happen to stand out more because of his lack of run-scoring production, not to mention 28 strikeouts over his last 16 games. He’s obviously in a funk, but here’s a look at some other slumping players:

  • Cust may be streaky, but Kevin Kouzmanoff may be even streakier. He’s hitting just .136 (6-for-44) in August, which follows a combined .306 mark in June and July after hitting .244 in April and May.
  • Kurt Suzuki is hitting .192 (10-for-52) over his last 14 games after going 17-for-42 over his previous 11 contests. Overall, his season average is down to .255 — not exactly what the A’s are looking to get out of their catcher. He also hasn’t hit a home run since July 28, and Oakland as a team is currently in a six-game homerless stretch.
  • Mark Ellis, aside from his three-double day Thursday, has also been racking up outs lately. He’s batting .219 over his last 21 games but has still managed to maintain a .270 season average. Needless to say, his production’s been average this year, but you can’t discount his value to the team given his defensive ways — he’s committed just one error at second base all year.
  • Chris Carter came up empty again tonight, and he’s now 0-for-16 with seven strikeouts in his first five games. He really just needs one hit, I think, to get into a groove of sorts. In order to do that, though, he’s got to lay off those sliders, which aren’t exactly making him look good up there.

The good news? Tomorrow is a day game, and we all know how much the A’s like the sun. They’ve won 11 of their past 12 day games and are a Major League-best 28-11 (.718) during the day. 

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.

One cherry Tootsie Pop, please…

I’m starting to wonder if the A’s training room is handing out free lollipops or something. Or maybe stickers and Disney princess band-aids. That’s just my guess. I can’t seem to think of any good reason why the baseball gods, year after year, continue to sprinkle this A’s team with health problems. As expected, Kurt Suzuki became the 10th A’s player to go on the disabled list today. Justin Duchscherer could easily be next, and Dallas Braden’s numb foot didn’t exactly leave anyone feeling great after the lefty’s last performance.

After seemingly getting off to one of their healthiest starts in years, the A’s have quickly reminded us that the bad luck that has continually circled through the clubhouse hasn’t quite left. A total of 74 players have made use of the DL since the start of the 2007 season, and the A’s are now on pace to use it about 70 times this year alone. Anyone out there working on a medical thesis right now? Someone could easily do an exhaustive study on this injury-prone team.

Let’s take a look at who’s enjoying a Tootsie Roll Pop right now:

Kurt Suzuki is bored out of his mind thanks to an intercostal strain in his left side that will keep him out of the lineup until May 9 at the earliest. That’s when he’s eligible to return from the 15-day DL.

Mark Ellis didn’t make the team’s current road trip and is instead treating his strained left hamstring. He’s eligible to be reinstated from the DL on May 6, but the club isn’t making any promises that his name will be back in the lineup then. After all, Ellis returned April 20 after missing seven games due to the injury and left the game after five innings. No need to rush him.

Travis Buck, possibly the most frustrated of them all, is out with a strained right oblique muscle — which flared up during batting practice April 21 and had him on the DL by the next morning. He hit a monster of a home run the day before suffering the injury and appeared to be heading toward a hot streak, making the situation that much more disappointing. Story of Buck’s life, though. Right?

Coco Crisp probably wants to simply wave a magic wand over his fractured pinkie finger right about now, but he’s taking things in stride because he know there’s absolutely nothing he can do to make it heal quicker. He’s hopeful he’ll be able to resume baseball activity in less than two weeks, which means we could maybe see him make his debut in green and gold by the end of May.

Brett Anderson received quite the reward for signing a four-year contract extension last week. And I’m not talking about the $32 million he could potentially earn. Rather, Anderson is now being forced to celebrate his new deal with a strain near his flexor tendon that will force him to miss at least five weeks.

Michael Wuertz scared us all when he wasn’t pitching in any Spring Training games. That’s when we found out about the sore shoulder, which then turned into shoulder tendinitis, which then put him on the DL to start the season. The A’s top right-handed setup man is on his way back, though. He is scheduled to pitch for Triple-A Sacramento tonight and, if all goes well, he could rejoin the team for next week’s homestand.

Joey Devine is one of the nicest guys on the team, but his surgically-repaired elbow hasn’t been so kind to him. Devine entered camp quite enthused that he was ahead of his Tommy John rehab schedule only to be set back with tendinitis halfway through spring. Then, just as he was about to face live hitters last week, he felt more pain and found out the tendinitis has returned. However, that’s relatively good news considering he thought there might be a tear involved. Devine was transferred to the 60-day DL today to make room for Josh Donaldson on the A’s 40-man, so it looks like we won’t see him until after the All-Star break.

Josh Outman, like Devine, is recovering from Tommy John surgery and isn’t expected to rejoin the club until midseason. All reports on his recovery process, though, have been nothing but thumbs up.

John Meloan, remember him? He underwent Tommy John surgery last month and will likely be out until the middle of the 2011 season.

That should add up to nine. Trevor Cahill, who struggled in his season debut against the Jays tonight, represents the club’s 10th player to have used the DL this year. He started the season there with a stress reaction in his left scapula before being optioned to Sacramento and, eventually, being recalled to fill Anderson’s place.

The A’s also saw Kevin Kouzmanoff and Jerry Blevins miss time due to their own respective injuries last week. Now, the team will wait on news from Dr. Thomas Byrd, who will examine Duchscherer’s MRI on Monday in Nashville. If surgery is required, folks, you won’t be seeing him back in a uniform this year.

Watching Duchscherer choke up after last night’s game was rough. This guy’s essentially been to mental hell and back, and now he’s dealing with yet another hip issue after just five starts. If he’s out of the mix, Vin Mazzaro is likely to get the call up. Maybe then we’ll appreciate all this depth talk Billy Beane spoke of so much during the offseason.

On the upside, Eric Chavez is still going strong. Of all the players who have fallen victim to the injury bug, who would have thought the A’s veteran would not be one of them? Chavez very much appears to have a great peace of mind regarding his role on this team, and it’s good to see him enjoying himself on the field again. He also got a haircut recently, as I observed today. “Actually,” he said with a grin, “I got it last week, but thanks for noticing.”

Hey, it’s hard to keep track of trips to the DL, let alone visits to the salon…  

Thursday pregame notes: Ellis back in lineup

First, your starting lineup against the host Giants here at Scottsdale Stadium: Davis CF, Barton 1B, Sweeney RF, Kouzmanoff 3B, Suzuki C, Ellis 2B, Buck LF, Pennington SS, Jennings SP

We’ll also see Michael Wuertz, Tyson Ross and newcomer Edwar Ramirez in action on the mound tonight.

Some pregame notes:

  • Mark Ellis is back in the lineup after missing two games with tight hamstrings.
  • Rajai Davis is in the leadoff spot tonight, but when Coco Crisp is in the lineup, expect the latter to lead off most times with Davis in the No. 2 hole. “I thought Raj did a real nice job in the second spot last year,” manager Bob Geren said.
  • Kurt Suzuki can be found in the fifth spot tonight, and Geren said he’d like to try him there for awhile with Ryan Sweeney batting third.
  • Andrew Bailey (elbow) said he is still slated to throw off the mound Saturday and hopes to be back in a game next week.
  • Geren will travel to Surprise tomorrow for the team’s split-squad game against the Rangers, while the rest  of the team will make the shorter trip to Mesa to face the Cubs. Vin Mazzaro is scheduled to go against Texas, and Dallas Braden will go in Mesa.

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.  

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.

Monday morning tidbits

First, your starting lineup against the Reds in Goodyear, with Ben Sheets (who manager Bob Geren hopes will go four innings) scheduled to make his third start of the spring:

Davis CF
Ellis 2B
Suzuki C
Kouzmanoff 3B
Sweeney RF
Cust DH
Barton 1B
Fox LF
Rosales SS

Also scheduled to throw: Jennings, Ziegler, Rodriguez, Blevins, Hernandez, McBeth

Today will mark Kurt Suzuki’s first back-to-back start behind the plate, as Geren is beginning to get his projected starters gradually acclimated with playing on consecutive days. The team has a day off tomorrow, and Geren said you can expect to see a lot of the other regulars (Mark Ellis, Kevin Kouzmanoff, etc) start to play back-to-back days beginning Wednesday.

Dribblers: Geren noted that Coco Crisp is “progressing well” and is back to his throwing program. He should be returning to the lineup in the “near future,” Geren said. … Jason Jennings, who has suddenly put himself in a good position to battle for a roster spot, will start one of Oakland’s split-squad games (likely on the road against the Indians) on Saturday, when Sheets is slated to take the mound in the other game (at home versus the Cubs). Vin Mazzaro is also scheduled to throw that day as well. … Joey Devine, who is currently treating tendinitis in his surgically repaired pitching arm, is scheduled to throw what Geren deemed “light to medium” toss on Wednesday, the same day Justin Duchscherer is supposed to throw in a simulated game at 10 a.m. over at Papago Park’s Minor League facilities.     

The most recent A’s cuts: right-handed pitchers Clayton Mortensen (optioned to Triple-A) and Fautino De Los Santos (sent to Double-A) and left-hander Pedro Figueroa (also reassigned to Double-A). Meanwhile, Oakland offered Rule 5 pick Bobby Cassevah back to the Angels, who in turn accepted the right-hander. More on all four of these guys can be found at the A’s site shortly. 

Greetings from Papago Park

Lots of A’s — pitchers, catchers, position players — have been working out at the team’s Papago Park facilities in Phoenix even though pitchers/catchers don’t have to officially report until tomorrow. It’s easy to see why given the weather (77 degrees today) and easily accessible fields there. When I took my first trip to the park yesterday afternoon after a quick flight from Oakland, I made my way around the fields accompanied by only a squirrel or two. Today, though, the lots were filled when I wandered over there mid-morning. Some highlights:

I quickly ran into Justin Duchscherer, who is sporting a little more scruff than usual. He looks great and genuinely says he feels better than great — physically AND mentally. If you recall, Justin was ready to return to the team in August after recovering from elbow surgery. The only thing keeping him away from the field was his battle with depression, which he has since treated. Physical health is not an issue for him, and he will have no restrictions come Sunday when pitchers and catchers work out together for the first time. Justin lives in Arizona, so he’s been doing plenty of baseball activity all offseason. Today was one of the few times he’s been out to Papago with everyone, but trust me when I say he appears to be physically and psychologically healthy.

Brad Ziegler is dealing with what he calls typical allergies he always gets when he comes out to Arizona, leaving him with a slightly raspy voice. He got an allergy shot yesterday, though, and is not letting it affect his workouts. He threw a bullpen today right before Joey Devine, who received a good amount of encouragement from pitching coach Curt Young and bullpen coach Ron Romanick. Romanick has played a key role in guiding Devine along his rehab schedule. To read more about his quick recovery from Tommy John surgery, you can go here. Also, here’s a picture of Devine throwing off the mound today.

Devine.jpgJake Fox has to be one of the friendliest guys in the game. At least that’s the impression I got after he found me to introduce himself. Usually the reporters are the ones who have to make the effort to jump start the initial introduction process, but Fox came right over in catcher’s gear, which is why I didn’t even recognize him in the first place. He helped out with some bullpen sessions today before taking BP, and you’d think the guy has been around the team for years. Definitely a likable guy who should make friends fast and bring an all-around good personality into the clubhouse.

It didn’t take long to spot the highly anticipated Michael Taylor, who spent more than an hour taking BP while showering the outfield grass with hits left and right. Luckily there was a good amount of guys shagging balls – a group that included Cliff Pennington, who took part in his first full day of workouts Friday. Taylor looks just as you probably imagined — big. You can spot him a mile away, but at the same time he’s no Big Hurt or Big Papi. More trimmed and toned. Here’s a picture of him signing an autograph for an eager fan, who begged Taylor to wait around for a minute while he ran to his car to get one of Taylor’s baseball cards.

Taylor.jpgTravis Buck has been working out at the facilities for a couple of weeks and looks to be in great shape. I didn’t recognize him at first due to a hairstyle change. Gone are the Goldilocks days. Buck’s going with a much shorter ‘do now and is hoping the change will be a sign of good change to come at the plate, where his struggles have been the topic of much discussion this offseason after the A’s signed FA outfielder Gabe Gross.

I also had the chance to meet Max Stassi, the A’s fourth-round pick in last year’s draft. He was busy catching a few bullpens before I caught up with him and, not surprisingly, he’s yet another nice guy. Lots of those on the A’s roster every year it seems. And while Stassi is here as a non-roster invitee having only spent time with the A’s short-season Vancouver team, there’s no denying his excitement and work ethic. Looks like he’ll be a great addition to the big league team in a couple years.

Others floating around the facilities included Andrew Bailey, Ben Sheets, Trevor Cahill, Daric Barton, Mark Ellis, Eric Chavez, Tyson Ross and Jared Lansford (Carney’s boy), among others. As I mentioned before, pitchers and catchers report tomorrow, but it should be a quiet day over at Phoenix Muni. The players have been advised to take the day off, as they won’t get another off day until March 16 after they begin official workouts Sunday. However, I’ll be over there bright and early tomorrow, so look for more updates again here by afternoon and all throughout the day on Twitter. Hope to gather more pictures for you as well.

Off to find some dinner here in the desert. Any food recommendations around the Tempe/Scottsdale/Phoenix area are always welcome, as are any comments/rants/opinions about the A’s.

Happy Friday!

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