Athletics

Doug Fister overcomes terrifying moment

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Doug Fister overcomes terrifying moment

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Doug Fister is listed at 6'8." He is an extremely tall, thin, and leggy right-handed pitcher. He is built a lot like the A's Brandon McCarthy. On September 5, McCarthy, who stands just an inch shorter than Fister, was hit just above the right ear by a line drive off the bat of Eric Aybar that ended up fracturing his skull and forcing the pitcher into emergency brain surgery. The traumatic injury ended McCarthy's season and stimulated discussions about pitcher safety. In the second inning baseball got a frightening reminder of just how vulnerable pitchers are while on the mound when Fister was struck on the top of the head by a liner off the bat of Gregor Blanco. Fortunately for Fister, it was a glancing blow that didn't hit flush. He never left his feet and after a mound visit from his coaches, trainers, and umpires he remained in the game.
RELATED: San Francisco Giants 2012 World Series page "I was really afraid," catcher Gerald Laird said. "That's a scary moment. A line drive off someone's head, I mean you've seen what happened to McCarthy and the damage it did. You don't want to lose a teammate like that."Laird said that when everyone approached the mound to check on Fister he answered all the standard concussion questions before they were asked. The manner in which Fister handled the situation turned the moment from terrifying to humorous."I don't want to make light of it but it was pretty comical really because Doug was right on with everything," Tigers' manager Jim Leyland said. "But I was scared to death when it happened." "He sounded just like Fisty always sounds," Laird said. "He goes 'I know where we're at. We're in the second inning. We're in Game 2 against San Francisco.'"
RATTO: Giants follow big win with small win for 2-0 leadFister got extremely lucky. If that ball was one inch lower things could have been very different. The Tigers ended up laughing it off. Fister said there wasn't any pounding or lingering pain in his head after the ball struck him. He says there hasn't been any kind of tests. He even held the door to the clubhouse open for the media after the game "I'm not concerned I've got a minor bump," Fister said. "According to my dad my whole life, his saying has always been if I got hit in the head I'm okay." Somehow, the ball that ricocheted off the top of his head altered his evening for the better. Fister retired 13 of the next 16 batters he faced. He only allowed two hits after the incident. He was riding on pure adrenaline."For me it's just a mindset," Fister said. "You are not going to take me out of the game."The Tigers' pitcher has been nearly unhittable in this postseason. It's no wonder why. Every pitch in his arsenal breaks, bends, and dives through the strike zone. Fister hadn't allowed a run since the seventh inning of the ALDS against Oakland, totaling 12 13 scoreless innings. He gave up a leadoff single in the seventh and left the game. He was charged with an earned run when the Giants scored on a double play with the bases loaded and reliever Drew Smyly on the mound. For Fister, a Merced native that attended Fresno State, this start was easily the biggest and most special of his career. He took the mound with family and friends watching. A lifelong Giants fan, it wasn't long ago he was sitting in the stands watching the Giants play alongside those same friends and family members. Hopefully they won't be too angry with him after dealing against their favorite team. Despite Fister's best efforts, Detroit was held scoreless and the Giants ended up winning 2-0. Their big opportunity to get on the board was thwarted in the second inning when Prince Fielder was thrown out at home while trying to score from first on a Delmon Young double. The Giants executed a perfect relay -- Gregor Blanco, to Marco Scutaro, to Buster Posey, who tagged Fielder on the backside just before his foot brushed across home plate."I saw the ball go off the wall and I looked back at him and he sent me so I was ready to run," Fielder said of third base coach Gene Lamont's decision to wave him home. Fielder added that he argued the call at the plate because he didn't feel the tag. As the play unfolded all he was thinking about was trying to be safe. He wasn't. The Giants also robbed the Tigers of a run when Pablo Sandoval made a leaping catch to stop what would have been an RBI double in the fourth inning. "Seems like things aren't' falling right now, we just have to continue to battle and keep swinging it," Laird said. "The good thing is we get to go home now and play in our home park where we've played our best baseball all year. I like our chances." In the end, Detroit's hitters had no answers for Madison Bumgarner who threw seven shutout innings of two-hit ball. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Bumgarner is the first pitcher since Bruce Hurst in 1986 to throw 15-plus scoreless innings in his first two World Series appearances. Jim Leyland's Tigers are in deep trouble. They head home down 0-2 to the Giants in the Fall Classic. Even if the Tigers can survive the next three games in The Motor City, the series will be decided in San Francisco.

With Yankees on the prowl, error costs Sonny Gray in loss to Blue Jays

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USATSI

With Yankees on the prowl, error costs Sonny Gray in loss to Blue Jays

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Sonny Gray walked off the mound after a scoreless bottom of the sixth Tuesday in Toronto.

Was it the last inning he’ll pitch in green and gold?

That’s the dominant storyline around the A’s right now, especially in light of Tuesday afternoon’s revelation that the Yankees are making a run at acquiring both Gray and first baseman Yonder Alonso from Oakland in a package deal.

MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported multiple sources as saying the teams were “making progress” on a deal that would send both players to the Big Apple.

The A’s have been scouting the Yankees’ farm system recently, along with the systems of other contending teams who are considering Gray. The speculation surrounding Alonso, a free agent this winter, has been light in recent weeks except for the Yankees’ known interest. But after New York acquired corner infielder Todd Frazier from the White Sox last week, it seemed the Yankees’ need for Alonso might have lessened. Apparently, that’s not the case.

Gray struck out nine over six innings in Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the Blue Jays, which leaves the A’s 1-4 so far on this seven-game road trip. All four runs off him came in the second, when his own throwing error toward second base helped open the gates to the only rally Toronto needed. Ryan Goins had a two-out two-run double and Jose Bautista also doubled home a run in the inning, with all four runs off Gray unearned.

MLB.com also reported earlier Tuesday that the A’s had a particular interest in Yankees Single-A center fielder Estevan Florial, and that infielder/outfielder Jorge Mateo, ranked New York’s fourth-best prospect by Baseball America before the season, could also enter the equation. That same report mentioned that such elite Yankee prospects as shortstop Gleyber Torres, outfielder Clint Frazier and pitchers Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield would be all but untouchable. All are among New York’s top-10 prospects.

But for a deal that includes both Gray and Alonso, it stands to reason the A’s could ask for the inclusion of one or more of those four in a deal.

The Yankees aren’t the only team that has an enticing pool of prospects that could make for a match with Oakland. Houston, known to be going after a starter, has multiple outfielders who could be attractive to the A’s. The Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers are among other teams in search of pitching who could put together competitive offers.

Gray’s next scheduled start would come Sunday at home against the Minnesota Twins, one day before the non-waiver trade deadline.

Decision time for A's: Trade Sonny Gray now or later?

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AP

Decision time for A's: Trade Sonny Gray now or later?

As Sonny Gray prepares to take the mound against Toronto on Tuesday night, there’s not a hotter name in the rumor mill as the major leagues’ non-waiver trade deadline approaches Monday.

Yet there’s a contradiction attached to the A’s right-hander. He is simultaneously the likeliest Athletic to be traded, and the toughest to pry away simply because of what the team will demand in return.

The markets for first baseman Yonder Alonso and second baseman Jed Lowrie haven’t developed as expected, to the point that you wonder how much the A’s could even get in return for them right now.

That focuses the spotlight squarely on Gray, 27, who has posted a 1.62 ERA over his last five starts and comes with two more seasons of team control before he hits free agency. That’s why he’s been linked to no fewer than nine contending teams who are looking for starting pitching.

The A’s sit in a position of strength here. They don’t have to deal Gray right now, and indications from within the organization are that they don’t feel a pressing need to deal him before Monday if they don’t get swept off their feet by an offer. They can retain him, and he’ll still hold great value as an offseason trade chip with those two years of team control.

MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi reported Tuesday morning that the Yankees and Nationals — who have already struck a deal with Oakland to get relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson this month — are two teams in particular to watch in the hunt for Gray.

Morosi also reported that the A’s are targeting young outfielders as the anchor of any deal. That makes all the sense in the world given their organizational needs, particularly in center. It’s also in line with what I’ve heard that the A’s would prioritize getting position players in return since they worked so hard over the past couple of years to acquire and draft young starting pitching (though it stands to reason a deal for Gray would be a multi-player package that could also include pitching prospects as well).

Morosi specifically mentions Yankees Single-A center fielder Estevan Florial as a player the A’s like. He’s just 19 and at least a couple years away from the majors. But Billy Beane, the head of Oakland’s baseball operations, said after making the Doolittle/Madson trade that the emphasis moving forward would be on acquiring high-end talent, not necessarily prospects close to being major league-ready.

Other potential Gray suitors have elite outfield prospects in their system: The Astros boast Kyle Tucker, the Nats have Victor Robles and the Mariners have Kyle Lewis, though it’s doubtful whether Seattle has enough elsewhere in its farm system to assemble a package to land Gray.

Just a hunch, but keep an eye on the Dodgers as a team that could enter the Sonny Sweepstakes in light of Clayton Kershaw’s lower back injury. There’s strong ties between the Oakland and Los Angeles front offices, and the teams struck a deadline deal last summer that sent Rich Hill and Josh Reddick to the Dodgers. They have one of the majors’ top outfield prospects in Alex Verdugo, who’s currently at Triple-A.

Though much mystery remains, an eventual trade of Gray is inevitable. The A’s have a solid base of young pitching depth, both in the majors and coming up through the system. And Gray’s rebound from a poor 2016, combined with his favorable contract status, makes him too tantalizing a trade chip for the A’s not to make the move.

The key question is not “if” but “when.”