Rangers tag Braden with five, A's lose 9-2

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Rangers tag Braden with five, A's lose 9-2

March 9, 2011BOXSCORE A'SVIDEOMLBPAGE MLBSCOREBOARD

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) The Texas Rangers keep stretching out Neftali Feliz, just in case.The AL Rookie of the Year struck out four in three scoreless innings Wednesday as the Rangers beat the Oakland Athletics 9-2.Feliz posted 40 saves last year, then came to camp trying to win a spot in the Texas rotation. Earlier this week, he said he'd prefer to stay in his closer role."Your heart's got to be in what you're going to do," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "If your heart isn't in it, we'll have to make that decision down the line."Feliz took over in the sixth inning and allowed one hit and walked two. He threw 53 pitches, 30 for strikes, and showed off a sharp slider to add to his curveball and 100-plus MPH fastball.Feliz was a lifelong starter until his move to the bullpen as a late-season callup to the bullpen in 2009. No matter what his role, pitching coach Mike Maddux said the extended repertoire can only be of benefit."When you always have the almighty equalizer in your back pocket, you can use your other stuff and protect it," Maddux said.Feliz started to tire in eighth, walking the first two hitters he faced. But he finished in impressive fashion, striking out Josh Horton and Jai Miller to close out his day."One of the things he showed last year," Maddux said, "is he may be a youngster but he's a man."Maddux has asked somewhat rhetorically whether it's better to have such an effective pitcher for 70 innings or 200-plus. At the same time, he conceded Wednesday that "you're only as good as your bullpen.""It all sounds great right now but come the regular season and we've got a lead after 8 12, then let's go win it. He doesn't have to be perfect. You don't have to be perfect as a closer. You just have to be pretty good and you'll have the advantage," he said.As Feliz and the Rangers mull his ultimate fate, one of his would-be competitors for a spot in the rotation, Derek Holland, posted a stellar outing in his second start.The left-hander gave up two hits and faced only one hitter over the minimum in his three-inning stint, striking out four."I need to show that I belong in that rotation," Holland said. "I don't want anything else. I'm trying to get that starting rotation spot. I need to make a couple of statements and today was one."Oakland starter Dallas Braden allowed four runs and four hits before recording his first out, though he settled down in the final two innings to finish with five runs - three earned.Braden, 11-14 with a 3.50 ERA in 30 starts last year, said his approach will certainly be different once the season begins."If it's that way in April, then we have a problem."David DeJesus and Landon Powell each hit their first home runs of the spring for the Athletics.NOTES: A's OF Ryan Sweeney made his spring debut and got two hits. ... Michael Young and Yorvit Torrealba each had RBI doubles in the Rangers' fix-run first. ... Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler singled to lead off the game and extend his hitting streak to seven games. ... Rangers RHP Brandon Webb threw 62 pitches in his first live batting practice session of the spring. ... Oakland 1B Daric Barton didn't make the trip with a bruised calf but is expected to play Thursday. ... Oakland RHP Craig Breslow is day-to-day with a strained left hamstring and will not pitch on Thursday as originally scheduled.

Santiago Casilla signs, but who will close for the A's?

Santiago Casilla signs, but who will close for the A's?

Santiago Casilla says he’s returning to his baseball home, which requires only a trip across the Bay Bridge.

The A’s finalized a two-year $11 million contract with the former Giants closer Friday, adding him to a bullpen that has no shortage of late-inning relief options for manager Bob Melvin.

“There’s an old saying that it’s always good to return home, and I’m very happy to get this new opportunity with the Athletics,” Casilla said on a media conference call, via interpreter Manolo Hernandez Douen.

It’s “new” in that the 36-year-old Casilla spent the past seven seasons wearing black and orange. But his major league career is rooted in Oakland. The A’s signed him out of the Dominican Republic as an amateur free agent back in 2000, and he spent his first six seasons with Oakland, the first two of those pitching under the name Jairo Garcia.

He’s since won three World Series rings with the Giants, including notching four saves during the 2014 postseason. His final season with San Francisco ended on a sour note last year, however, as he was demoted from the closer’s role during a rough September.

What role will he find in 2017?

Casilla, who reportedly can earn up to $3 million in incentives based on games finished, joins three other relievers in the A’s ‘pen who have legitimate big league closer’s experience — John Axford, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. Doolittle was the closer entering last spring but shoulder problems derailed him for a second consecutive season. Madson handled the ninth for most of 2016 and notched 30 saves, but general manager David Forst made it clear Friday that the Opening Night closer has yet to be determined.

“We had a number of different guys save games last year,” Forst said. “… Santiago saved almost 80 games the last couple years. He’s got a lot of experience. As we talked to him and his representatives, he made it clear he’s willing to do anything. It’s great for Bob to have a number of options. It’ll sort itself out in spring training as to who the guy is to start the season.”

Doolittle, Axford, Ryan Dull and Zach Neal combined for 12 saves last season. But even though the A’s are fully stocked with ninth-inning options, it’s fair to question whether any of them is a clear-cut answer for the closer’s role as spring training nears.

Madson’s seven blown saves tied for second most in the American League. Doolittle hasn’t pitched a full season since 2014. Axford issued 4.11 walks per nine innings last year, and Dull’s biggest strength is his ability escape jams when entering mid-inning.

Casilla went 2-5 with a 3.57 ERA and 31 saves last season, striking out a career-best 10.1 per nine innings, but there was some turbulence. He was displeased with Giants manager Bruce Bochy last May after being pulled from a game. Then he struggled mightily in September and lost the closer’s role. Bochy didn’t call on him at all as the bullpen coughed up a ninth-inning lead to the Cubs in Game 4 of the NL Division Series that ended the Giants’ season. That decision had Casilla in tears after the game.

Asked Friday if he harbored any hard feelings toward the Giants, Casilla replied: “It’s a new year, a new team. I have left this in the past.”

Forst pointed to Casilla’s sustained velocity — his fastball averaged 93.6 miles per hour last season — and his expanded repertoire over his career as reasons why the A’s went after him.

“His numbers were really good — 65 strikeouts, 19 walks,” Forst said. “As we got through the offseason I think we thought he was being overlooked a little bit just because of the narrative surrounding his departure with the Giants. I wasn’t around and I don’t know what went on, but it seems like a few blown saves marred what otherwise was a fantastic season for him.”

In other news, the A’s signed veteran outfielder Alejandro De Aza to a minor league deal with an invitation to major league spring training. Forst noted De Aza’s ability to play all three outfield spots and his speed as traits that caught the A’s attention.

Report: 49ers increase offer to Bradley to become D-coordinator

Report: 49ers increase offer to Bradley to become D-coordinator

The 49ers reportedly continue to pursue Gus Bradley to serve as defensive coordinator on presumptive coach Kyle Shanahan’s staff.

The 49ers have increased their offer to Bradley, Mike Siliver of the NFL Network reported on Friday. Bradley wanted to work with Tom Cable, according to the report.

Cable interviewed with the 49ers on Sunday but removed his name from consideration on Tuesday after he and Seattle co-director of player personnel Trent Kirchner sensed their 49ers’ interest in them intended to receive a commitment from Shanahan, sources told CSNBayArea.com.

Bradley served as defensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks from 2009 to ’12. In Bradley’s final season on Pete Carroll’s staff, Seattle ranked first in the NFL in points allowed and fourth in total yards.

Bradley became head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2013. His teams went 14-48 before he was fired with two games remaining in the season.

The 49ers this week inquired with the Chicago Bears about the possibility of bringing back Vic Fangio to the organization to serve as defensive coordinator. The 49es were informed, according to a source, that the Bears would not let Fangio out of his contract. Fangio was the defensive coordinator for all four seasons with the 49ers under Jim Harbaugh.