Colon out-duels Felix, A's win Seattle's home opener

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Colon out-duels Felix, A's win Seattle's home opener

BOX SCORE
The A's aren't afraid of Felix Hernandez.Oakland notched two runs off the 2010 Cy Young award winner, upping their season total off Hernandez to nine, and Bartolo Colon made it stick, lasting seven shutout innings to give the A's a series-opening win in Seattle. After Seattle beat the A's in Oakland's home opener on April 6, Oakland returned the favor Friday, sending the packed Safeco Field with a loss on their opening night.The A's got back to .500, improved to 4-4, and 4-0 all-time against the Mariners on Friday the 13th.
It's Bartolo's Safeco: Bartolo Colon was masterful Friday night, at one point retiring 10 consecutive Mariners, en route to his 10th career win at Safeco Field. It was just his 12th start in Seattle. With the win, Colon broke free from the confines of a tie with John Lackey for the most career wins at Safeco Field by an opposing pitcher.Colon has three starts this season, all against the Mariners. In two of them, including Friday night, he allowed just three hits in seven-plus innings of work.On friday, singles from Dustin Ackley, Ichiro Suzuki and Jesus Montero, and a walk to Juistin Smoak were the only blemishes.After the win, Colon is 2-0 with a 3.72 ERA. He's earning that one-year 2 million contract.Rallytime: The important runs in the game came in the third inning. Daric Barton, batting seventh, got it started with a broken-bat single to right field. After advancing to second on Josh Donaldon's ground out, Barton trotted home when Cliff Pennington got a hold of a 91-mph fastball and sent it off the center-field wall. After Jemile Weeks grounded out, Coco Crisp lashed a two-out single to left field that Chone Figgins could not field cleanly. Third-base coach Mike Gallego and Pennington took advantage, and the A's took a 2-0 lead over Hernandez and the Mariners.The only other run in the game came in the eighth inning when Josh Reddick spurred the insurance rally. The Mariners called upon left-handed specialist Lucas Luetge -- who sent Reddick back to the dugout on three pitches April 7 on a steady dose of sliders -- to face Reddick. This time, though, Reddick slapped the second slider he saw to right field, picked up a critical 90 feet on a passed ball, and scored on Kurt Suzuki's sacrifice fly.Three runs were plenty, but Jemile Weeks wanted more. Hitting from the right side against left-hander Charlie Furbush, Weeks hit the A's eighth home run of the season in their eighth game, making it 4-0.King Felix III: The A's aren't scared of royalty. They've faced Felix Hernandez in each of his first three starts, and they've driven his ERA to 3.80, 0.55 points higher than his career mark of 3.25. Hernandez threw seven innings Friday, ceding seven hits and two earned runs. He took the loss, falling to 1-1.Pressing: Yoenis Cespedes jumped out to a memorable start with Oakland, hitting extra-base hits in each of his first four games. In his next three games against the Royals, Cespedes finished the series 2-for-9 with one extra-base hit, a double.Friday against the Mariners, Cespedes was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.Cook calmed: Ryan Cook made his fourth appearance of the season Friday, taking over for Bartolo Colon in the bottom of the eighth inning. He walked the first two batters he faced, energizing the Seattle crowd. A mound visit was all he needed. Cook induced a comebacker from Figgins and led Pennington into second base perfectly. Pennington stepped on second and fired to first to complete the 1-6-3 double play.Cook got Ackley to ground out next to end the Mariners' only threat since their last hit in the fourth inning.

A's holiday shopping focuses on a center fielder

A's holiday shopping focuses on a center fielder

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The A’s didn’t add any players during the four-day winter meetings, but they did wave goodbye to one.

Minor league right-hander Dylan Covey was scooped up by the Chicago White Sox in Thursday’s Rule 5 draft. The Sox pay the A’s $50,000 for his rights, and he must either remain on their 25-man roster for the entire 2017 season or be offered back to Oakland for $25,000.

The 25-year-old Covey, ranked the A’s No. 20 prospect by mlb.com, was an Arizona Fall League standout this offseason after working his way back from an oblique injury that wiped out most of his 2016 season.

“We’ll see what happens,” A’s general manager David Forst said. “He certainly was as deserving as anybody of being protected (on the A’s 40-man roster), we just ran out of spots. Good for him to get this opportunity.”

As for ways Oakland might supplement its own roster, that task continues.

The A’s held plenty of discussions over four days spent at the sprawling Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, but those talks didn’t bear fruit in their search for a center fielder. They had trade dialogue with the Kansas City Royals regarding Jarrod Dyson, a blazing runner and potential leadoff man, but couldn’t find common ground.

As the holidays approach, the A’s will continue to scan the free agent market and explore trade opportunities.

“My guess is there are plenty of things we talked about this week that have legs, and those conversations will continue over the next few weeks,” Forst said. “We’ve got two months until pitchers and catchers report, four months until the season. We’re not the only ones leaving here without actually consummating something.”

The Orioles are another team reportedly trying to pry Dyson from the Royals. Another center fielder mentioned as being available is Reds speedster Billy Hamilton, although reports suggest Cincinnati isn’t in a rush to move him.

Dexter Fowler is the best free agent center fielder still on the market, although Austin Jackson and Rajai Davis seem to fall more in the A’s price range.

Forst was asked how much urgency there is to the center field search.

“I’m not confident they’re gonna be there all winter, there’s only a certain number of guys,” he said. “We’re not going to risk anything to jump out (and do something) we wouldn’t otherwise do. But we think we’re being diligent.

“We cast a wide net, and we continue to. We have to keep doing that just to make sure — free agents, trades, different kinds of players, platoons, whatever. I think we have to keep our toes in every option.”

As for other areas the A’s can improve, they may look to add a veteran starting pitcher. Just speculation, but Doug Fister is one free agent whose price tag figures to be reasonable, and he’s a Northern California native. However, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the A’s simply invited a veteran to camp on a minor league contract to see if they can find a diamond in the rough, or at least someone to provide competition.

A’s executive VP of baseball operations Billy Beane mentioned second base as an area of concern because of injury issues (Jed Lowrie) and inexperience (Joey Wendle, Chad Pinder), but it’s very possible the A’s stick with their in-house options.
 

Notes: A's likely to leave winter meetings with unfinished business

Notes: A's likely to leave winter meetings with unfinished business

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — A’s general manager David Forst flies home Thursday afternoon, and unless there’s a drastic change in the final stages of the winter meetings, he’ll still be searching for a center fielder.

Wednesday’s events included some discussion between Oakland and other parties, but no concrete progress toward landing a center fielder. That’s despite the late-breaking news Tuesday that the A’s and Royals were talking trade for fleet-footed Kansas City outfielder Jarrod Dyson.

“It’s a two-way street with a free agent or a team, a function of the other side’s pace,” Forst said. “It’s unlikely (they complete a deal at the meetings), and not for lack of conversations or lack of ideas. Just things move at different speeds.”

It doesn’t necessarily mean the chance of landing Dyson is done. Forst pointed out talks which transpire at the winter meetings sometimes materialize into a deal down the road. But it’s also worth noting that the Baltimore Orioles are pursuing Dyson too. FanRag’s Jon Heyman reported that Baltimore and Kansas City have discussed him.

Therefore, consider the A’s as players in the free agent as well as trade markets.

“We’ve cast a wide net,” Forst said.

Two free agent center fielders came off the board Wednesday as the Rockies agreed to a five-year $70 million contract with Ian Desmond and the Rangers re-signed Carlos Gomez to a one-year $11.5 million deal. Desmond was assumed to be out of the A’s price range, but Gomez was thought to be a realistic target. He opted to return to Texas, which needed to do some outfield re-stocking after losing Desmond and Carlos Beltran, who like Gomez was an in-season acquisition for the Rangers in 2016.

The three most enticing free agents left now at the position appear to be Dexter Fowler — like Desmond, expected to command a pricey multi-year deal — former Athletic Rajai Davis and Austin Jackson.

As for other needs, the A’s would add a veteran starting pitcher at the right price and could look to upgrade at second base, though neither of those is as high a priority as landing someone to anchor the middle of their outfield.

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Manager Bob Melvin addressed reporters at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. Though A’s top baseball official Billy Beane said Tuesday the organizational focus was on the future, aiming for a strong team to be in place by the time the A’s potentially move into a new ballpark, Melvin’s attention is solely on the upcoming season.

“In 2012, we had I don't know how many rookies on that team. It was all rookie starters, and we ended up winning the division,” Melvin said. “Once you start the season, the focus is all about winning.”

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Should the A’s not bring in a center fielder who can also lead off, the first in-house candidate Melvin mentioned as perhaps hitting atop the order was Joey Wendle. He gave a nice showing of himself in a September call-up and hit leadoff for a stretch, but there’s no guarantee that Wendle even starts at second base next season, especially if veteran Jed Lowrie is healthy after foot surgery.

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Former Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale has rejoined Oakland’s staff as Melvin’s third-base coach, and Melvin has plenty of confidence that Hale will capably fill Ron Washington’s shoes as the infield instructor. Washington was popular with A’s infielders and had particular success working with shortstop Marcus Semien.

Hale served as Melvin’s bench coach before getting hired by Arizona before the 2015 season.

“Obviously we've talked a lot about Wash and what he's meant to some of these younger guys,” Melvin said. “We feel like if anybody can replace Wash, it's Chip Hale.”

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Forst said John Axford will pitch for Canada in the World Baseball Classic. Fellow reliever Liam Hendriks has not yet committed to Team Australia.

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Right-hander Chris Bassitt, who underwent Tommy John surgery in May, was examined by A’s head trainer Nick Paparesta on Wednesday and his recovery is going very well. He’s between throwing programs right now. Forst added that lefty Felix Doubront is also coming back well from the same procedure.