At 6-0, Griffin is making a name for himself


At 6-0, Griffin is making a name for himself


ANAHEIM -- The nameplate above A.J. Griffin's clubhouse stall in Anaheim is handwritten. The rest are printed. Turns out his name was spelled wrong. An innocent mistake, but it tells a certain story. Griffin wasn't even in Spring Training in Arizona. Manager Bob Melvin admitted he hadn't heard of him as the team began preparations for their 2012 campaign. After going an Oakland-era best 6-0 to start his Major League career it is safe to say everyone will soon know Griffin's name. "He's on my radar now put it that way," Melvin said. "Billy Beane and the front office have done a great job targeting these guys when they are ready to come up and perform." Griffin, a native of Southern California, was at his best against the Angels on Wednesday. With family and friends in attendance he tossed a career-best eight shutout innings on six hits, struck out eight batters and walked none."I had pretty good command of all four of my pitches tonight and I just tried to go after guys and get ahead and put them in leverage situations for me," Griffin said.According to A's baseball information manager Mike Selleck, Griffin is now the only Major League pitcher to since at least 1918 to allow three-or-fewer runs and walk two-or-fewer batters in each of his first 11 career starts. "I just try to detach from that kind of stuff and just go out there and pitch wherever they tell me to pitch," Griffin said. "It's been working out so far and I don't think I'll try and change it right now."The A's have asked him to pitch in Single-A, Double-A, Triple-A, and the Major Leagues this season. He has excelled at all levels. "He's off to a decent start put it that way," Melvin said. "We've seen a lot of good games out of him but against that lineup here at this place that's probably as good as we've seen him." Like any smart pitcher Griffin knows he can't do it without a little help from his friends. Coco Crisp was probably his best friend on Wednesday. Crisp threw out Chris Iannetta as he tried to advance from first to third on a single in the third inning, and made a spectacular highlight reel diving catch to again rob Iannetta in the fifth frame. "I was watching him go after and it and I was like, 'He's kind of closing on this ball. Oh my God I can't believe he caught it,'" Griffin said. "That's pretty impressive. That's one of the best catches I've ever had behind me and I really appreciate it."The rookie pitcher was quick to credit his teammates for his success. A little run support went a long way. The A's took an early lead after Josh Reddick hit a double in the first inning and scored when Erick Aybar made an error on a grounder hit by Cespedes. In the sixth inning Cespedes hit a ball that nobody could get a glove on, crushing his 18th home run of the season. On Tuesday Cespedes snapped a 21-game home run drought. Now he has two in as many days. "Guys are going to go through streaks. I think the oddity is we are used to seeing him drive balls all the time," Melvin said. The A's added some insurance runs in the eighth inning when Josh Donaldson and Derek Norris both hit doubles. Crisp then stepped to the plate and swatted a single to right field driving in Norris to make it a 4-0 game. The Angels only run came on a home run hit by Albert Pujols in the ninth inning off Sean Doolittle. Pujols' homer was his 30th this season, making him first player in MLB history to hit 30 or more homers in his first 12 seasons. The A's are also setting records though. Oakland has now won 12 road games in a row. That ties an Oakland-era record set in 1971. The road success has the A's surging and they are now a season-high 22 games over .500. "Certainly you want to try to build on each win for momentum," Melvin said. "We started it by playing in some tough venues and winning on the road and there's an energy we have on the road now."Clearly it is working. If this keeps up the A's will be well on their way to being a bunch of household names.

Kaval: A's must 'swing for the fences' in choosing ballpark site

Kaval: A's must 'swing for the fences' in choosing ballpark site

MESA, Ariz. — After spending a few days at spring training, A’s president Dave Kaval heads back to the Bay Area on Tuesday to continue work on the team’s search for a ballpark site.

There are so many factors to consider — location, public transportation access, parking, government obligations to be fulfilled, etc. — it’s easy to understand why it’s such an all-encompassing process.

Kaval shared some detailed thoughts on all of the potential sites the A’s are considering during a visit on the A’s Insider Podcast. Here’s some highlights:

The A’s have narrowed down to four locations in Oakland to build a privately financed ballpark: Brooklyn Basin, Howard Terminal, Laney College and the current Coliseum site on which they play.

Are these four all uniquely different from each other or do they share some common traits?

“I think all of them can fulfill our long-term vision of this urban area around the ballpark,” Kaval said. “Think of Fenway, Wrigley … all of them can achieve that vision. We want to make sure with such a big decision that we swing for the fences. … I think the Coliseum is probably the hardest to create kind of an urban village, but I think it’s possible, and we’re not ruling it out.

"But all the other locations can have neighborhoods around the ballpark where people can live and you can just have a really intimate experience around the ballpark.”

There hasn’t been the same buzz about Brooklyn Basin as Howard Terminal. Located close to the water, does it offer similar attributes as Howard Terminal?

“It’s very close. There’s a couple different places the ballpark could go down there,” he said. “You’re closer to the water, which is exciting, and I think being on the water provides the ability to have water taxis, ferries, other transit options that kind of lower the requirement for parking, lower the requirement for walking or biking. And that actually can be a really great thing for the fan experience.”

Howard Terminal offers a big potential payoff with the terrific views available. But there are some substantial hurdles, not the least of which are the government regulations and approvals required to build right along the water.

“If you want to actually develop something in there, you need to have legislation from the state of California. That’s just something that has to happen,” Kaval said. “So when we think about the steps to get the individual sites (approved) and break ground, it’s just another one you have to do at that site. So you have to weigh, is it worth the time, effort, political opposition that might come up to pursue that type of effort? The site is so iconic that we’ve been keeping it in the mix because, wow, it could just be something that is a game changer.”

That’s just a sample of the many topics Kaval touched on over the course of the podcast.

A's spring training Day 7: Rosales readies himself everywhere

A's spring training Day 7: Rosales readies himself everywhere

MESA, Ariz. — Adam Rosales has a real simple plan for which infield position he chooses to try to get work at.

“Wherever there’s less guys, I go over there,” he explained with a smile.

The sun came out and the A’s finally got on the field for their first full-squad workout Monday after being rained out Sunday. That meant Rosales, back for his second go-round as an Athletic, got his first chance to prepare for what figures to be a super-utility role, which is how he’s carved out a nine-year major league career.

All indications are that he’ll be the primary backup infielder, capable of spelling Jed Lowrie at second base, Marcus Semien at shortstop, Trevor Plouffe at third and even fill in at first base or left field in a pinch.

Though Rosales, who spent 2010-12 with Oakland and re-signed in January on a one-year $1.25 million deal, is well-versed in preparing himself all over the diamond, one position in particular is one that he says is most difficult to master in limited time.

“Shortstop,” he offered without hesitation. “There’s a lot more going on there, a lot less room for error. At shortstop, especially with a guy like Mike Trout running, you’ve got to be in good rhythm, good timing, get rid of the ball and make an accurate throw.”

Depending on how the A’s prioritize their 25-man roster, Rosales could very well be the only backup infielder. That means fellow infielders Joey Wendle and Chad Pinder would start in the minors if the A’s were to keep a fifth outfielder or third catcher. But because the A’s have some players who can fill in at multiple spots, there’s numerous ways they can choose to configure the roster when it comes time to pare it down.

Rosales, 33, said walking back into the A’s clubhouse for the first time made him “feel like I’m back home.” So much of the support staff — equipment guys, clubhouse guys — are the same as when he was here before. He was also happy to see former infield mate Mark Ellis walk through the door Sunday. He says Ellis, a teammate from 2010-11, instilled in him the importance of being a great defender. Ellis is working as a part-time spring instructor.

“He told me, the No. 1 reason he was in the big leagues was because of this,” Rosales said, holding up his glove. “I was such a young player then. I’d always work with him, how to turn double plays. Just to have him around is awesome.”

NOTEWORTHY: Sonny Gray and Kendall Graveman were among the pitchers who faced hitters for the first time this season. Bruce Maxwell caught Gray, his first time behind the plate with Gray other than the one inning Gray threw in an abbreviated start at Anaheim toward the end of last season. Maxwell said Gray’s changeup in particular looked good.

Manager Bob Melvin has been very impressed early on with Graveman’s command. Graveman said he’s trying to improve his changeup, in an effort to induce weak contact from righties and get them on the their front foot, which could then make him more effective on the inside corner.

CAMP BATTLE: There could be a good fight for the seventh and final spot in the bullpen, and it would seem being left-handed could give someone an edge. Sean Doolittle is the only lefty currently projected among the A’s top six relievers. Melvin had good things to say about Daniel Coulombe, a lefty who made 35 appearances in relief last year and also saw a bit of time with Oakland in 2015. Coulombe posted a 4.53 ERA last season but struck out 54 in 47 2/3 innings.