From Comcast SportsNetPHOENIX (AP) -- Manny Ramirez found a taker in Oakland -- at a bargain price. The suspended slugger agreed on a minor league contract Monday with the Athletics that is worth approximately 500,000 if he's added to the big league roster. The A's announced the deal and said Ramirez is expected to report to spring training by the end of the week, in time for Oakland's first full-squad workout Saturday. He is a non-roster invitee. The 12-time All-Star is due to serve a 50-game suspension for his second positive drug test before he can play for the A's. Barring rainouts, his first game could be May 30 -- on his 40th birthday. But that didn't deter general manager Billy Beane and the Athletics. "I am very pleased Billy was able to add Manny to our team," owner Lew Wolff said in an email. "I look forward to welcoming him and the entire team that Billy and his people have assembled for the coming season." ESPN first reported earlier in the day that the sides had reached an agreement, speaking directly to Ramirez. The A's made public their interest in the enigmatic outfielder, who had been working out in Florida this winter. Starving for offense, Oakland finished third in the AL West last season at 74-88 and ranked 12th out of 14 American League teams in runs. For the small-budget A's, Ramirez presents little financial risk. They don't have to pay him during his suspension and will give him per diem money during the club's spring training stint in Phoenix, which is shorter than usual because of two season-opening games in Japan next month. Oakland sent representatives to Florida this winter to watch workouts by Ramirez, who retired from the Tampa Bay Rays last season rather than serve a 100-game suspension. For Ramirez, this could become a chance to help mend his reputation -- at least a little bit -- and serve as a positive clubhouse influence on a young team. The A's recently agreed to terms on a 36 million, four-year contract with highly regarded outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, a Cuban defector who has expressed interest in playing with Ramirez. At baseball's winter meetings in December, it was announced that Ramirez had applied for reinstatement. He had his suspension for a second failed drug test cut to 50 games because he sat out nearly all of last season. MLB had announced his retirement on April 8, saying he was notified "of an issue" under the drug program. Ramirez ranks 14th on the career list with 555 home runs. He went 1 for 17 (.059) in five games last season for Tampa Bay, which had signed him to a one-year deal worth 2.02 million. This would be the 20th major league season for Ramirez, a career .312 hitter with 1,831 RBIs.
It may have helped that they had been at home for roughly three weeks.
It surely was to their benefit that the NBA schedule provided three days without a game before they confronted perhaps one of the most rigorous weeks of the season.
The Warriors, however, still had to do the work. They still had to finish.
They still had to beat the team that had roughed them up 22 days earlier, and then squelch another squad coming into Oracle Arena on a wave of emotion and, finally, take to the road and get back at a team that handed them a loss in Oakland.
Done, done and done. And in such a fashion that forward Draymond Green referred to it as “our best week of the season.”
In putting away the Rockets 125-108 on Friday in Houston, the Warriors closed out the traditional worker’s week with a 3-0 record against three teams they could see in the postseason. They’d already routed the defending champion Cavaliers 126-91 on Monday and struck down the Thunder 121-101 on Wednesday.
“It’s three good teams in a row,” Kevin Durant told reporters in Houston. “We definitely wanted to come out and make a nice statement, and I think we did that.
“We always can get better. We can’t relax against Orlando, Miami and Charlotte, teams that can creep up on you and have been playing well lately.”
The Magic, Heat and Hornets -- all dreadful to mediocre -- are the kinds of teams that force the Warriors to compete. They don’t stir the senses like the Cavs or the Thunder or the Rockets, three teams with credentials that demand attention from a Warriors team that sometimes cruises against lesser competition.
So this week was not just about winning games. These weren’t just wins, they were emphatic statements, profound evidence that the team remodeled last summer around the addition of Durant is coming together in the heart of the season.
The defense was tight, with Cleveland shooting 35.2 percent, OKC 42.2 percent and Houston 20.0 percent from beyond the arc, which is the only place that matters for the Rockets.
The Warriors resorted to one of their signature turbocharged third quarters to separate from the Rockets. Shooting 61.9 percent and scoring 9 points off Houston turnovers, the Warriors outscored Houston 37-22 in the third, stretching a five-point halftime lead to 20 going into the fourth quarter.
The Warriors now have an NBA-best differential of plus-250 points in the third quarter this season.
“It’s just something that we put an emphasis on,” Green said. “Coming out and getting off to a good start in the second half. Not coming out flat and giving another team life or letting them go on a run and then trying to make it up. And once we go on our run, we can get rolling pretty well and make it tough on other teams.”
That was the case this week, as the Warriors topped 50 percent from the field in all three victories.
Durant scored 32 points against Houston and averaged 31 points over the last three games. Stephen Curry put in 24 points and averaged 22.7 for the week. Green, meanwhile, averaged 12.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 3.7 blocks.
“It was our best week of the season because we’ve gotten better each time we’ve stepped on the floor this week,” Green said. “And that’s what’s most important. It’s not about blasting these three teams. It’s about getting better, and trying to reach our end goal. In order to do that, you have to get better each and every time you step on the floor.
“We did that these three games, so that’s the most important thing. That’s why it’s been a good week, not because of the margin of the wins that we had.”
The Warriors avenged yet another loss Friday night, rolling into Houston and laying a 125-108 beating on the Rockets at Toyota Center.
All five Warriors starters scored in double figures, with Kevin Durant totaling 32 points to lead the way. Stephen Curry finished with 24 points, Klay Thompson with 16, Draymond Green with 15 and Zaza Pachulia added 10.
The Warriors (37-6) suffocated Houston’s high-powered offense, which is predicated on 3-point shooting, holding the Rockets to 20 percent (7-of-35) beyond the arc. The Warriors forced 15 turnovers, off which they scored 19 points.
Backup center Clint Capela scored 22 points to lead Houston (33-13). MVP candidate James Harden was held to 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting, including 0-of-5 from 3-point distance.
Having beaten the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, the Warriors this week evened the ledger against two elite teams. They lost to Houston on Dec. 1 in Oakland, 132-127, in double overtime that accounted for one of only three losses at Oracle Arena.
The entire starting lineup played well, but Durant proved too much for anything the Rockets threw at him.
Durant’s line: 32 points (12-of-19 shooting from the field, including 2-of-7 from deep, 6-of-7 from the line), seven assists, four rebounds, two blocks and two steals. He played 34 minutes and was plus-25 for the game.
After Houston trimmed their lead to five (64-59) with 11:39 remaining in the third quarter, the Warriors responded with a 23-8 run, punctuated by a 28-foot 3-pointer by Curry to go up 87-67 with 5:58 left in the quarter.
The Warriors led by 20 entering the fourth quarter, and the Rockets got no closer than 15 over the final 12 minutes.
Warriors: C/F David West (L thumb fracture) was listed as out.
Rockets: F Ryan Anderson (flu) was listed as questionable but upgraded to available. He was in the starting lineup, but played only nine minutes before leaving for good.
The Warriors return to action Sunday in Orlando, where they face the Magic at Amway Center. Tipoff is scheduled for noon Pacific.