Results tagged ‘ Max Stassi ’

Duke faces live hitters

I’m technically off today, but Justin Duchscherer sure isn’t, so I’m taking a quick break from my errands before I head off to Trader Joe’s to update you all on the session he threw today. It marked the first time all spring he’s faced hitters, and from all reports I’ve read, Duchscherer’s 30-pitch session couldn’t have gone better – aside from being hit by a line drive off the bat of Max Stassi. The right-handed Duchscherer blocked the ball with his hand before it ricocheted off his right shoulder so it wouldn’t come straight at his face.

After facing Stassi and Ryan Sweeney, Duchscherer told reporters he feels healthier than he’s felt in five years and hopes to be game-ready by Opening Day.

“I see myself as one of the best pitchers in baseball,” Duchscherer told the Associated Press. “My only concern is if I have time to get ready to throw six
innings. I’m hoping I don’t have to start the season somewhere else.

“I threw with the intent of throwing to every location with all my
pitches. My body feels great. No elbow pain. No
back pain. It was nice not to have to think about if I was going to get
through the pain and focus on doing my job.”

According to The San Francisco Chronicle, the next step for Duchscherer — if all goes according to plan — will be a simulated game in Phoenix on Tuesday when the A’s have a scheduled off day. 

Injury news: Buck, Stassi, Meloan

2 p.m. I just learned that outfielder Travis Buck was scratched from Tuesday’s lineup due to dizziness in Surprise, Ariz., where the A’s are playing a split-squad game against the Royals. He was replaced in right field by Corey Brown, who went 3-for-4 with an RBI ground-rule double, two runs, a stolen base and a walk.

Buck is 1-for-5 at the plate in three games this spring and is fighting for an outfield spot along with Eric Patterson and Gabe Gross. He has made the A’s Opening Day roster in each of the last three seasons, but four stints on the disabled list and options to Sacramento in each of the last two years have limited him to just 156 games in that time at the Major League level. He does have a history of head problems, as he suffered a severe concussion in 2008 in Triple-A and also collided with Chris Denorfia last year in Sacramento. 

5:30 p.m.: Manager Bob Geren had no news on Buck, so I’m assuming he’ll be good to go tomorrow, but if I hear anything differently come morning, I’ll keep you updated.

In other injury news, 18-year-old catching prospect Max Stassi left the A’s game against the Rangers in Phoenix in the ninth inning with a right knee contusion after getting hit by a foul ball. The injury came just two frames after Stassi hit his first homer of the spring. “The baseball gods are funny like that,” he said after the game.

Stassi doesn’t think he’ll be game-ready again for about a week, so the next time he sees action will apparently be in Minor League camp, considering he noted that “the bad thing is I’m going down tomorrow.” Geren hasn’t said anything about cuts, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if some were made tomorrow considering Minor League camp is officially underway.

6 p.m. Also just got word that right-handed pitcher John Meloan left the game in Surprise accompanied by a trainer in the eighth inning with a 1-0 count on the batter. Will hopefully have more information on him first thing tomorrow.

Another note from that game: Jack Cust hit a ball over the right-field wall that bounced on the sidewalk over the fence across the four-lane street on one hop and into the water park.

A source who was at the game says the homer was the “farthest anyone can remember seeing a ball hit here.”
 

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!”

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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