OAKLAND -- The A's had already alluded to the fact Bartolo Colon was good to start on Tuesday, A's manager Bob Melvin wasn't shy about it, it was even in the game notes on Monday. That news is now official. The right-handed veteran has been out since June 18 with a strained right oblique muscle.What was kept secret however, is who the A's were going to ship out to make room for Colon. What we now know is that player will be relief pitcher Brian Fuentes. The A's have designated the left-handed veteran for assignment. He has only pitched twice in the team's last fifteen games. He was 0-2 with a 19.50 ERA over his past seven appearances. Fuentes was signed to a two-year contract worth 10.5M prior to the 2011 season. The team had a 6.5M club option for 2013 with a 500,000 buyout. Fuentes, 36, was 2-2 in 2012 with a 6.84 ERA. He had three blown saves. Colon is 6-7 with 4.22 ERA, 55 strikeouts and 16 walks this season. He is 8-11 with a 4.08 ERA in 24 career starts against the Red Sox.
MESA, Ariz. — Through all of the controversy and sensational headlines that have marked his baseball career and beyond, one constant has stood firm in regard to Jose Canseco:
The man speaks exactly what’s on his mind.
That will serve A’s fans well as Canseco joins NBC Sports California as an on-air analyst for A’s Pregame Live and A’s Postgame Live. He’s part of a revamped lineup of former Athletics who will provide their expert insights and opinions throughout the 2017 season.
“I’ve got quite a bit of experience. I’ve pretty much been there, done all of that whether it’s on or off the field,” Canseco said. “I think the fans can expect the truth — an honest opinion, honest analysis — and hopefully in some shape or form we expand the fan base.”
The 1988 American League MVP and first player ever to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases in the same season, Canseco’s baseball resume speaks for itself. For so many fans who grew up with a “Bash Brothers” poster on their wall, he was the defining presence of three consecutive pennant-winning A’s teams from 1988-90.
Those teams dominated with an ensemble cast of contributors. But in a time period when the Bay Area produced some of the biggest superstars across the national sports landscape, no one’s profile stood taller than Canseco’s.
“I pulled his rookie baseball card out of packs, watched him play countless games in person at the Coliseum,” said Brodie Brazil, host for A’s Pregame and Postgame Live. “It still hasn't sunk in that we've added one of the Bash Brothers to our core of analysts. The kid and adult in me are both pretty stoked.”
Canseco retired after 17 big league seasons and 462 home runs, which ranked 22nd on the all-time list when he hung up his spikes. After his playing career, he wrote the controversial tell-all book “Juiced”, which blew open just how widespread steroid use was in the major leagues.
Canseco received a hefty amount of criticism upon the book’s release. But as the years have gone by and it’s become apparent just how many players were using performance-enhancing drugs, Canseco has proven to be much more credible with the claims he made.
“It’s kind of a double-edged sword,” he said of writing “Juiced.” “It made the game better because it made the game look at what was going on internally. On the other end, because I wrote the book and went up against Major League Baseball, I got excommunicated.”
He’s enthused about taking on his first role as an analyst, and he joins NBC Sports California at a time of budding excitement surrounding the A’s and the expectation of them building a new ballpark in Oakland. Canseco, the 1986 AL Rookie of the Year, played for the A’s when they were one of the Bay Area’s hottest sports stories.
He believes a new ballpark would create the needed buzz. And, it’s not surprising that he’s got a unique preference in what he’d like to see built.
“I’m hoping for a dome to be honest with you,” he said. “It can get cold (in Oakland). The ball doesn’t carry. I would push for a dome. I think baseball is so different from other sports. It’s definitely the best sport in the world. The Oakland A’s deserve their own stadium.”
OK, so perhaps a dome isn’t in the forefront of the A’s thoughts. But remember, one fan proposed to team president Dave Kaval the idea of a floating stadium on the Bay, so Kaval has heard wackier suggestions.
Canseco can draw on the experience of having played for seven different big league organizations in providing his analysis.
He was preparing for Game 3 of the 1989 World Series when the Loma Prieta earthquake rocked Candlestick Park. In the 1988 World Series, he was playing right field when Kirk Gibson’s legendary home run went soaring over his head.
He’s traveled a unique road in the game, and he’s willing to speak frankly about the peaks and valleys.
“It’s the first time I’ve gotten the opportunity to do something like this,” Canseco said. “… Maybe fans would like to hear what my thoughts are, how things can be fixed or made better for the Oakland A’s.”
PHOENIX — Bruce Maxwell homered twice against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, and his reward was a demotion to the minors.
Awkward timing, for sure. But the news itself wasn’t much of a shock to the A’s catcher, who knew he was the odd man out in a three-man roster battle. The A’s like the left-right platoon behind the plate. Stephen Vogt, who like Maxwell hits left-handed, wasn’t going anywhere. Josh Phegley is back healthy after knee surgery and has the advantage of being a right-handed hitter.
“I mean, I could have come out here and hit 1.000 and I probably still would have been in the same situation,” Maxwell said. “I can’t really do much about it. I try not to worry about it. At the end of the day everybody wants to play in the big leagues, but if the opportunity is not there you can’t stress about it.”
Manager Bob Melvin gave Maxwell the news in the dugout after he exited Oakland’s 11-1 victory, and Melvin certainly couldn’t give Maxwell a justifiable reason for the demotion except that the roster math doesn’t add up.
“Great day to have to do that,” Melvin said sarcastically. “But, he’ll be here at some point. We saw his progression last year, he did a great job for us. There’s nothing he did to suggest he needed to be sent down. It’s just a numbers game for him right now.”
The A’s batted around in a five-run third, knocking Brewers starter Matt Garza from the game after he recorded just seven outs. They tacked on four more in the fourth, with Maxwell going deep to left-center for a two-run homer off Jhan Marinez. In the sixth, he hit a solo shot off Corey Knebel to right-center and also added a run-scoring single to complete his four-RBI day.
Melvin has spoken often of the improving power shown by the 26-year-old Maxwell, who hit .283 with a homer and 14 RBI in 33 games with Oakland last season in his first major league call-up.
“If you look at the power numbers over the years, he’s getting better and better,” Melvin said. “He’s got the chance to be a 20-home run guy in the big leagues.”
NOTEWORTHY: Jharel Cotton held Milwaukee to just a run on four hits over 5 2/3 innings. He bounced back from a wobbly start against Seattle in which he walked five. On Sunday, his toughest challenge was staying loose as the A’s offense put up two time-consuming rallies. Twice, Cotton had to play catch while his teammates paraded around the bases.
But it sure didn’t affect him, as he struck out seven and walked one in his second-to-last spring training start.
“This one, I was more on the attack, using my fastball more so I can set up my changeup and off-speed pitches,” Cotton said. “I know everybody raves about the changeup, but I need my fastball to be there so I can throw that pitch off the fastball.”
He had an entertaining ongoing battle with six-time All-Star Ryan Braun. He struck out Braun on a cutter in the first, gave up a homer to left in the fourth, then battled back from a 3-0 count to get Braun swinging through a fastball in the sixth.
“I got him twice, he got me once,” Cotton said. “I think I won that battle today.”
HEALTH UPDATE: Daniel Mengden, who has missed all of spring with a broken right foot, is scheduled to get his walking boot removed Monday. Mengden said he’ll stay in Arizona for anywhere from two to four weeks, taking part in extended spring training. The good news for the right-hander: He’s been able to play catch while wearing the boot, so that’s a bit of a head-start for him once he gets full mobility with his foot. There’s no timetable yet for his return.
ODDS AND ENDS: The A’s knocked out 16 hits and recorded double-digit runs for the fifth time this spring. They improved to 16-12. … Alejandro De Aza, fighting for an outfield roster spot, went 2-for-3 with an RBI to raise his average to .300. … With few regulars making the trip to Maryvale Baseball Park, second baseman Max Schrock came over from minor league camp and once again made an impact, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI. … John Axford threw a scoreless inning of relief. Frankie Montas handled the final two innings, allowing one hit with two strikeouts and a walk. The hard-throwing prospect is a candidate for the bullpen as a multi-inning guy.