A's infield a battleground for backups


A's infield a battleground for backups

Feb. 17, 2011

PHOENIX -- If things go as planned, there won't be much competition for starting jobs in the everyday lineup at A's camp this spring. It's pretty clear who's pegged to play where on Opening Day.The competition for backup roles on the infield, however, is wide open.Oakland manager Bob Geren acknowledged as much Friday morning at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, where he expects to see quite a few players battle it out for the right to serve as understudies to second baseman Mark Ellis, shortstop Cliff Pennington and third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff.Were Adam Rosales healthy, he'd be a lock for the top utility role, but despite an encouraging visit to his doctor Thursday, he's likely out for the first month of the regular season. More than two months out from foot surgery, Rosales was granted permission to ditch his crutches, but he'll remain in a walking boot for at another two weeks, making early March the earliest he'll be allowed to start baseball activities.Thus, it'll be up to a hodgepodge of relative unknowns, non-roster pickups and prospects to find a way to impress Geren and his staff once Cactus League play opens Saturday, March 26.RELATED: A's Cactus League schedule
Shortstop is an area of particular concern, with Pennington expected to miss the first week of games while continuing to strengthen his surgically repaired left shoulder."You're going to see a lot of different guys playing shortstop this spring," Geren said.Among them will be Josh Horton, Steve Tolleson, Eric Sogard, Grant Green and Andy LaRoche, with Sogard the only candidate currently on Oakland's 40-man roster.Geren said roster status will have nothing to do with his decision-making on the matter: "The best guys will be on the team."Horton, who played Double-A ball last season, is probably the best pure shortstop of the bunch.LaRoche, who has the most big-league experience and track record of moderate success despite a down year in 2010, has seen most of his playing time at third base.Sogard, who batted .300 at Triple-A Sacramento last season, played all three positions with the RiverCats but saw the majority of his action at second base.Tolleson, who played in 11 games at shortstop for the A's last season after tearing up Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .332 batting average and .915 on-base-plug-slugging percentage, also can play second and third and a little bit of outfield.Green, the 13th overall pick in the 2009 draft, might be the shortstop of the future for the A's -- "He's definitely one of the top prospects in the organization," Geren said -- but he's not yet played beyond A-ball and is the darkest of horses in the race."We don't have a clear frontrunner," Geren said. "Everyone in camp is going to get a pretty good look."

Former 49ers head coach Tomsula named Washington's defensive line coach

Former 49ers head coach Tomsula named Washington's defensive line coach

ASHBURN, Va. — Washington turned to internal candidates to fill two critical vacancies, promoting Matt Cavanaugh to offensive coordinator and Greg Manusky to defensive coordinator.

Cavanaugh was the team's quarterbacks coach and Manusky its outside linebackers coach last season. Washington announced the promotions Monday along with the hires of Kevin O'Connell as quarterbacks coach and Jim Tomsula as defensive line coach.

It has been an offseason of upheaval for the coaching staff after Washington fired defensive coordinator Joe Barry and a few assistants and offensive coordinator Sean McVay left to become head coach of the Los Angeles Rams.

In its efforts to replace Barry after ranking 28th defensively in consecutive seasons, Washington interviewed former Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, former Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine and former Buffalo Bills assistant Rob Ryan before opting for Manusky. The 50-year-old Manusky has been defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers and 49ers and worked with Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan in San Francisco.

Known for his fiery personality and booming voice on the practice fields, Manusky had only been on coach Jay Gruden's staff for one season as outside linebackers coach. Middle linebacker Will Compton tweeted: "Congrats to Coach Manusky!" when players were informed of his promotion.

Cavanaugh was Washington's quarterbacks coach for the past two years as Kirk Cousins twice set the franchise record for passing yards in a season. Cousins' status for 2017 remains in doubt after playing last season on the franchise tag, but with McVay gone he'll have a familiar face as his offensive coordinator.

After 13 NFL seasons as a backup quarterback, the 60-year-old Cavanaugh was offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears from 1997-98 and Baltimore Ravens from 1999-2004. O'Connell, Washington's new quarterbacks coach, was an assistant in San Francisco under Chip Kelly last season.

Tomsula, who replaces Robb Akey as defensive line coach, also most recently worked with the 49ers as their head coach in 2015.

Spring training to be slightly shortened starting in 2018

Spring training to be slightly shortened starting in 2018

NEW YORK -- For everyone who thinks spring training is too long, help is on the way - a little, anyway.

Spring training will be shortened by two days starting in 2018, when new restrictions in Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement take effect on game times for regular-season getaway days.

The voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers and injured players will be 43 days before the major league opener instead of 45, according to a copy of the agreement obtained by The Associated Press. For other players, the date will be 38 days ahead instead of 40.

The change was tied to spreading each team's 162 regular-season games over 187 days, up from 183.

Players' association Assistant General Counsel Matt Nussbaum said the union's goal was to create more days off during the season "in a way that doesn't just chew up offseason days."

"We have heard for years and I'm sure we will continue to hear that spring training is too long, that guys are really ready to go well before opening day, but I think what the commissioner's office would tell you is that there are big challenges for the clubs in substantially shortening spring training because they have various commitments to put on a certain number of games," he said Monday.

Late arrival times ahead of regular-season series openers also were addressed.

Starting in 2018, the latest possible start time on getaway days when either team is traveling to a game in another city the next day or a home off day will be calculated by subtracting the time of the flight over 2½ hours from 7 p.m.

There are cutouts for Sunday night games broadcast by ESPN and games after June 1 at Texas' current home ballpark - where the Rangers avoid afternoons for much of the season because of the heat.

Another new rule for 2018 says no game in the original schedule may be set for before 5 p.m. when a team played the previous night in another city starting 7 p.m. or later. There are exceptions involving flights of 90 minutes or less for home openers and holiday weekends. Current cutouts are carried over for up to six exceptions each season at Chicago's Wrigley Field and rescheduled games involving flights of 90 minutes or less.

"We fully recognize that our players play a very demanding schedule, and we're always looking for ways to ease the burden on players while at the same time scheduling games at a convenient time for our fans to watch them," MLB Chief Legal Officer Dan Halem said.

Sunday night games on holiday weekends followed by afternoon games still seem likely to occur.

"We have contracts with various national broadcast partners that limit our ability to schedule day games in certain instances," Halem said.

Nussbaum said if the players had their way, there would be "a flat rule that says all getaway games are day games" but understand why that would cause difficulty for teams.

"There's still going to be some challenges in the schedule," he said, "but we think what we've done with these two prongs is pare back the most egregious of the travel."

As part of the agreement, one game in the major leagues may be scheduled each year on the Thursday after the All-Star Game starting in 2018.