Results tagged ‘ Trevor Cahill ’

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.

Rickey comes to town

That’s right, Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson will be in A’s camp tomorrow as a special instructor for base running and is scheduled to stay through Tuesday. So if you’re in the area and want to capture Rickey tutoring the youngins, he’ll be at Papago through Monday before heading over to Phoneix Muni with the team on Tuesday. Most everybody — at least anyone expected to steal a base this season — is expected to get some work in with him.

Brett Anderson and Vin Mazzaro were among the A’s pitchers who threw live BP today, although most hitters just stood in without swinging — as is the norm on the first day — just to get a feel for the ball coming out of the pitcher’s hand. I talked to several of Mazzaro’s teammates who said the righty looked “fantastic.” He said he threw all his pitches and really felt comfortable out there, so don’t count him out just yet for the fifth rotation spot, although he’ll have to put up big numbers this spring to out-duel Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez.

Michael Taylor put on quite a show while taking some swings in the cage today. He hit a monster homer but then was robbed of another after Jack Cust jumped up to grab the long ball…more live BP to come tomorrow, barring any big rainstorms.

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…   

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!

Depth comes with decisions

For those still not sold on yesterday’s signing, I urge you
to join the pro-Sheets club. Why? Because it’s a win-win for all — Sheets gets
to pitch in a pitcher-friendly park, put up good numbers and re-enter the
market at season’s end and/or be moved to a contender for prospects come July
if the A’s are out of contention.

Basically, it’s a smart move for both sides — unless, of
course, Sheets gets hurt. But after listening to both the right-handed pitcher
and Beane talk extensively both during and after the press conference about
Sheets’ questioned health, I firmly believe he’s not going to be crowding the
trainer’s room this year. Billy said the guy keeps himself in remarkable shape,
and Ben went on for about five minutes about how extensive his physical was
before the deal was done.

Billy was asked if he felt anxious about having his rotation
led by two guys who didn’t pitch an inning last year. Definitely a fair
question, and one that I’m sure has plenty A’s fans wondering about too. Here’s
Billy’s answer:

“I wouldn’t say anxiety. Bigger anxiety was going into last
year having so little experience in our starting rotation. Ben opted to have
the surgery a year ago in an effort to make sure he was completely healthy, so
I have less concern than I would had he not had the surgery.

“Quite frankly, we were very pleased with the physical he
went through. Ben keeps himself in great shape, as does Justin, so we’re
anticipating them having a real good year. We can take a little bit of pressure
off our rotation because we now have some depth, which we haven’t had in the
last few years. Going into Spring Training, we have seven or eight guys.”

Later, Bob Geren was promptly asked about his starting
rotation. Is Sheets your ace? “Oh yea,” he replied. Quite a change from last year,
when Geren didn’t choose his OD starter (Braden) until five days before the
first pitch was thrown. He said Duchscherer, Braden and Anderson would likely
follow in that order, although I see a couple different options there since
Geren usually likes to go R-L-R or L-R-L. Both Geren and Beane made it very
clear that the fifth spot is not Cahill’s for certain — which I suspect
several people assumed would be the case. I, for one, though, do see Cahill –
who turns 22 in March — landing that fifth spot.

He definitely didn’t make as many strides as fellow rotation
youngster Anderson did last season, but he did improve on keeping the ball down
in the strike zone near the end of the year. His sinker has potential to be
very dangerous, but he’s gotta be careful with the long ball (he gave up an
Oakland-rookie-record 27 homers last year).

Then there’s Gio. The guy’s got what Geren deems the best
stuff on the staff, but keeping Gio in check mentally is what’s preventing him
from becoming a bona fide Major League pitcher. I talked with Gio for a long
while about this last week, and he said he feels he’s turned a page when it
comes to calming down on the mound. He’ll have to walk the talk come spring,
but if what he’s saying proves to be true, then he could definitely be in the
mix for the No. 5 spot.

Mazzaro is the final candidate for the job and, frankly, the
one several around the league pegged as the next big thing last spring. He was
usually mentioned in the same breath as Anderson and Cahill, and people were
going gaga over comparing the trio to The Big Three of Hudson, Mulder and Zito.
He was called up in June and quickly had heads turning by posting a 0.00 ERA in
his first two starts. But then he suddenly lost eight in a row, suffered a
shoulder injury and was never heard from again. Less walks and more strikes,
along with a slightly more poised appearance, and Mazzaro’s a big leaguer. But
when that time will come, no one knows. So for now, I see him getting schooled
at Triple A to start the season.

Don’t forget about Josh Outman, who should be back
mid-season. Including him, that’s 8 pitchers available to start. So when Billy
grabbed Sheets, was part of the plan to trade one of the younger pitchers for a
much-needed utility INF? “I think it’s fair to say we’ll hold on to the young
guys. We’ve finally got a little bit of depth.”

Depth? Yes. Lots of decisions left to make? Oh yes.

In a perfect world, what does your rotation look like?  

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