Athletics

After comeback win, Alonso enjoys one last plane ride with A's

After comeback win, Alonso enjoys one last plane ride with A's

ANAHEIM — Among the large group of players sitting in the A’s joyous clubhouse enjoying a postgame meal Sunday was Yonder Alonso.

The All-Star first baseman found out he was traded to Seattle in the morning as A’s players were just arriving to Angel Stadium. He stuck around and had to like what he saw as his former teammates battled from a five-run deficit to beat the Los Angeles Angels 11-10 in one of Oakland’s most improbable victories of the year.

Certainly one person who will miss Alonso is Bruce Maxwell. The A’s catcher, who has slumped badly of late, came through big in the eighth, lining a two-run single off Angels closer Bud Norris that capped the A’s five-run rally that inning. They strung together six hits in a row, all with two outs.

The A’s have seen their share of veteran teammates shipped off this season, but of the Alonso trade, Maxwell said:

“That’s one that hits a little closer to home for me, him being my locker mate last year and being like a brother.”

Alonso, who often talks of the importance of team unity, veteran leadership and camaraderie, was in no hurry to leave his A’s teammates. He accompanied the A’s on their team charter back to Oakland after the game, gearing up for what’s sure to be an odd couple of days for him.

His new team, the Mariners, are off Monday and begin a two-game series against the A’s at the Coliseum on Tuesday. So Alonso enjoyed one last plane ride with players he’ll be opposing on the field come Tuesday.

He’s looking forward to joining Seattle, which is fighting for an American League Wild Card spot.

“I know a lot of those guys over there,” Alonso said of the Mariners.

It’s silly to make too much of one victory in August for a team saddled in last place as the A’s are. But surely for manager Bob Melvin, Sunday’s stirring comeback was the kind of grittiness he wanted to see from his team on a day yet another key veteran was sent packing.

“There’s just no quit,” Melvin said. “We’ve talked about this group for a while now. They like to play. You persevere, you battle through and give yourself a chance at the win and come up with some really good at-bats. That was an all-around team win.”

The Mariners claimed Alonso on revocable waivers, meaning the A’s could have pulled him off the waiver wire, simply let the Mariners take him and assume his salary or work out a trade. They did the latter, receiving minor league outfielder Boog Powell in return. Powell, a one-time A’s farm hand who was drafted in 2012, will head to Triple-A Nashville.

The trade was all about opening up a spot for highly regarded prospect Matt Olson to finally come up from Nashville and get an extended big league shot with Oakland. Melvin said the left-handed hitting Olson will platoon at first with Ryon Healy. Olson can also play the corner outfield spots.

“We wish (Alonso) the best,” Melvin said. “He’s done a great job for us, not only been productive for us, but a great resource for our younger guys. He’s probably going into a little better situation for him as far as the record goes. But it’s time for Matt Olson to get a chance to play here. This guy, a couple years ago, was our top prospect and does a lot of things really well.”

Chad Pinder, one of those young players who are now the emphasis for the A’s, went 4-for-5 Sunday and finished just a triple short of the cycle. The A’s took two of three from the Angels after they’d lost seven in a row at Angel Stadium.

“When our guys are seeing the ball and clicking at the plate, these young guys, we can do some damage,” Maxwell said.

Could Franklin Barreto get a look in center field for A's?

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USATI

Could Franklin Barreto get a look in center field for A's?

Don’t count out top prospect Franklin Barreto as a possibility for the A’s in center field.

It’s long been speculated that the middle infielder might eventually get a look in center, and the idea has at least been discussed in team circles. It’s tied partially to whether the A’s exercise their $6 million club option on Jed Lowrie and bring him back as their regular second baseman in 2018.

Regardless, the battle to be Oakland’s everyday center fielder will be one of the A’s most intriguing storylines next spring. Grady Fuson, a special assistant to general manager David Forst who spends much of the season evaluating the team’s farm system, discussed several of the team’s center field options in the latest A’s Insider Podcast.

So much revolves around the health of 22-year-old Dustin Fowler, one of three prospects the A’s received from the Yankees for Sonny Gray. He’ll spend the winter continuing to rehab from a devastating knee injury suffered in his very first major league game in June while still with New York.

The A’s are hopeful he’ll be ready for spring training and believe he can be a solution in center.

“Fowler certainly is the guy we made this trade for, and I think everybody, top to bottom, in the system is counting on him taking that spot,” Fuson said. “But we all know he’s been hurt. How he comes back, who knows? Boog (Powell’s) been doing a very good job for us. And there’s other options.”

The 21-year-old Barreto, who has split time between second and short this season at Triple-A and with the big club, played some center in the Venezuelan Winter League in 2015. He’s always talked with enthusiasm about the idea.

The A’s experimented with another highly touted young infielder, Yairo Munoz, in center field in the minors this season.

“(We’ve) had discussions about taking Munoz out there, which we’ve done,” Fuson said. “We’ve had discussions about maybe Franklin Barreto, depending on what happens at second here at end of the year, over the winter, and early in camp.”

Lowrie has enjoyed a very strong season with Oakland, and A’s executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane has said the team is seriously considering picking up his option. Having Barreto be an option in center could be a way to keep him in the majors in 2018 even if Lowrie returns at second base.

Fuson stressed that the idea of Barreto in center hasn’t advanced past the early-discussion phase. No decisions have been made.

What’s interesting is that, in a short time, the A’s have gone from scarce few center field options to suddenly having several. Powell and Fowler may enter the spring as front runners, but Munoz, Jaycob Brugman, Chad Pinder, Jake Smolinski and, perhaps, Barreto may all have a shot too.

The A’s also used their first-round pick in June on high school center fielder Austin Beck, who represents another option down the road.

Bob Melvin provides update on Bruce Maxwell after 'pretty good shot' to face

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USATSI

Bob Melvin provides update on Bruce Maxwell after 'pretty good shot' to face

A's catcher Bruce Maxwell has a history with foul tips and concussion concerns, so there was cause for concern after he took a direct shot during Wednesday's game against the Tigers.

With one out in the ninth inning, Tigers shortstop fouled a ball square into Maxwell's facemask. The A's catcher immediately fell backwards. As manager Bob Melvin and the team trainer checked on him, he appeared dazed and rubbed his eyes. In an attempt to try to stay in the game, reliever Liam Hendriks tossed two warmup pitches. Maxwell missed the first one, but even after he caught the second one, it was clear he wasn't right and was removed from the game.

Afterwards, Melvin was asked about Maxwell's status.

"He went through all the protocol. It doesn't look like a concussion at this point. We'll probably know more in the next couple of days," Melvin told reporters in Detroit. "Took a pretty good shot. More sore on his face because of where the impact was, which was right in the middle of his face."

Josh Phegley replaced Maxwell for the final two outs of the game. Hendriks managed to close out the 3-2 win for the A's.