Drew still drawing interest from A's

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Drew still drawing interest from A's

NASHVILLE -- The A's are still in the mix for free agent shortstop Stephen Drew. A's general manager Billy Beane noted that he would meet with Drew's agent Scott Boras, "probably sooner than later," at the Winter Meetings. Drew was acquired by Oakland on August 20 in a trade with the Diamondbacks. He hit .250 with five home runs and 16 RBI in 39 games with the A's. The patient shortstop drew 18 walks and played sound defense as he recovered from an ankle fracture he sustained in 2011 with Arizona. Oakland had a mutual option on Drew but declined it after the season. Had Drew and the A's decided to stay together, the shortstop would have earned 10 million in 2013. Now the A's have the opportunity to sign Drew for multiple years at a more reasonable annual rate."Shortstop is a position that we are focused on right now," Beane said from his suite in the Gaylord Opryland hotel. "Beyond that I don't see a lot of glaring needs." A's manager Bob Melvin said that Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima's name has come up in internal meetings. Beane admitted that he could also be somebody the team looks at.Beane said the organization isn't interested in rushing first round pick Addison Russell to take over at shortstop, and that prospect Grant Green isn't considered to be an option there either. Green could be in the mix for a job at second base, though.
RELATED: 2013 A's roster breakdown -- Second base
Don't hold you breath for the A's to fill the void at shortstop at the Winter Meetings. The term "market makers" came up frequently in talks with Beane, and the team's strategy is to wait and see what the market dictates by evaluating what other offers are on the table for the players they are interested in. In short, the reigning General Manager of the Year is comfortable waiting. If things don't go well on the free agent market, the A's are open to acquiring a shortstop via trade, but they aren't interested in moving any of their starting pitchers to make it happen. In order to land a quality shortstop, it will likely cost them pitching in return. That would limit the A's to using prospects as trade chips. Oakland has six Major League-caliber starting pitchers but they are always concerned with depth in the starting rotation. Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, Brett Anderson, Bartolo Colon, A.J. Griffin, and Dan Straily are all candidates to make the starting rotation. "One of the reasons we are so reluctant to move our young guys is because it's one thing to move them, but to replace them is so challenging," Beane said. It also remains a possibility that Oakland could still sign free agent pitcher Brandon McCarthy to give them even more depth on the mound. The A's have been in contact with McCarthy and his agent, but noted there's still a lot of time left to sign players. "I would expect given his talents and the lack of starting pitching out there that he is going to be attractive to a lot of teams," Beane said of McCarthy. When on the mound McCarthy was extremely effective. Behind the scenes he helped the young pitchers prepare themselves. He had a career-best 3.24 ERA in 2012, and 1.95 walks per nine innings, which ranked him eighth among AL pitchers with 100 or more innings. "That door is always open until it's closed," Melvin said of McCarthy. In addition to the young starting pitchers, Beane said he wouldn't want to part with relievers Sean Doolittle or Ryan Cook. Those are his two most valuable bullpen trade chips. With rumors flying around the lobby like baseballs from a Jugs Pitching Machine, keep everything in stride. The A's will be taking their time at the Winter Meetings.

Graveman delivers in front of 'Blue Moon' Odom, rest of A's can't

Graveman delivers in front of 'Blue Moon' Odom, rest of A's can't

ANAHEIM — The A’s collection of individual highlights during their visit to Angel Stadium shouldn’t have equated to a three-game sweep for their opponent.

Jesse Hahn fired eight one-hit innings Tuesday, the same night Josh Phegley delivered a pinch-hit homer in the 10th before the A’s lost in 11 innings. On Thursday, Kendall Graveman turned in perhaps the defensive play of the 2017 season by a pitcher, recording an unassisted double play that was the first by an A’s pitcher in 46 years.

All great moments to relive in the clubhouse afterward, but surely they ring a bit hollow given the final outcomes. The A’s were swept by an Angels team that, like Oakland, has been hit hard by the injury bug. Los Angeles is without key relievers Huston Street, Andrew Bailey, Cam Bedrosian and Mike Morin, not to mention starter Garrett Richards among others.

Yet the Angels pitching staff twice held the A’s to one run over the three-game series, including Thursday’s 2-1 defeat, when the A’s mustered just three hits.

“We’re a little streaky right now,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “… Give them credit, they pitched really well, and they really are down a lot of guys in the bullpen. We would expect to do a little more damage.”

They couldn’t Thursday, and that it made it tough to savor Graveman’s incredible play the way they should have.

With runners on the corners and no outs, he fielded Juan Graterol’s comebacker and caught Ben Revere in a rundown between third and home. Graveman ran him down and after applying the tag, hurdled Revere and made the tag on Cliff Pennington, who was trying to advance from first to third in the chaos.

“That’s probably the best play I’ve ever seen a pitcher make, hurdling over an (opponent) to get the second out unassisted,” Melvin said. “I didn’t even know how to put that one down on my card.”

Graveman, one of the A’s better overall athletes, was asked if he’d ever recorded an unassisted double play before.

“Never. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen one,” he said. “(Ryan) Madson said he’s never seen one and he’s watched over 2,000 games.”

Incredibly, the last A’s pitcher to pull off an unassisted double play previously was in attendance Thursday night. John “Blue Moon” Odom did it back on July 11, 1971, also against the Angels. Odom attends most of the A’s games in Anaheim, and he’s struck up a friendship with Graveman over the years.

“Every time we come here and even in spring training, I try to catch up with Blue Moon Odom and see how he’s doing,” Graveman said. “He and Wash (former A’s infield coach Ron Washington) are friends so we always cut up about Wash. He’s a great guy. He sits in the front row. He came in and saw me right before stretch and told me ‘I’m gonna be front row watching you.’ That is pretty neat that that happened.”

A’s first baseman Yonder Alonso said he’s never surprised to see Graveman make a great defensive play.

“The guy’s a pitcher, but it feels like he’s a shortstop playing the position.”

Graveman was visited by trainers after the fifth-inning play, but Melvin said it was mainly to give the pitcher a breather and let him get his adrenaline under control. Neither Graveman nor his manager revealed anything specific that bothered Graveman. Seeing him stay in the game and complete six innings of two-run ball had to be encouraging for Melvin.

“The first thing I asked him was ‘What’d you fall on?’” Melvin said. “He said, ‘My butt.’ I said, ‘Well, you’re all right then.’ But you’re not gonna see that play again probably.”

The A’s are giving their manager and fans some accomplishments to marvel over. As they move on to Houston trying to halt a four-game losing streak, they just need to figure things out on the scoreboard.

Instant Replay: Graveman's strong start not enough, Angels finish sweep of A's

Instant Replay: Graveman's strong start not enough, Angels finish sweep of A's

BOX SCORE

ANAHEIM – If the A’s were searching for inspiration, they got some from their starting pitcher Thursday.

In his first start back from the disabled list, Kendall Graveman turned in a gutsy six innings that included a highlight-reel unassisted double play that solicited a visit from the training staff to make sure he was OK.

But the A’s offense couldn’t make Graveman’s night complete. Oakland scraped together just three hits in a 2-1 loss that completed a three-game sweep for the Los Angeles Angels.

It was the A’s second 2-1 defeat of the series, and the third time during their current four-game losing streak that they’ve been held to one run.

The Angels scored twice off Graveman in the first on a two-out rally that included Mike Trout’s double, Albert Pujols’ RBI single off the right field wall and C.J. Cron’s double to the warning track that Jaff Decker couldn’t haul in.

That was all that was needed to make a winner of Ricky Nolasco (2-2), who went 5 2/3 innings and avenged an Opening Night loss at the Coliseum on April 3.

Starting pitching report

Graveman (2-1) gave up the two runs in the first inning, then buckled down and allowed the Angels no more in his first start since April 14, when he was lost to a strained right shoulder. He went six innings, allowed six hits, struck out four and didn’t walk anyone. It was a good sign that Graveman’s fastball consistently registered in the mid-90’s. And though he appeared shaken up after his acrobatic double play, he retired his final seven hitters, including back-to-back called strikeouts of Trout and Pujols in the sixth to finish his night.

Bullpen report

Ryan Madson and Daniel Coulombe threw scoreless innings to keep the game close.

At the plate

Besides Yonder Alonso, who drove in three runs Wednesday and had a bloop single for an RBI on Thursday, it’s hard to know who the A’s can turn to right now for an offensive spark. Leadoff hitter Jaff Decker, filling in for the injured Rajai Davis, went 2-for-11 in the series and isn’t making an impact at the plate or in the field. Cleanup man Khris Davis went 1-for-9 in the series and Ryon Healy went 1-for-14, including chasing a high fastball for a strikeout with the bases loaded in the sixth.

In the field

Graveman turned in the first unassisted double play by an A’s pitcher since Blue Moon Odom did it July 11, 1971 against the then-California Angels. He had runners on the corners with no outs when Juan Graterol hit a comebacker to the mound. Graveman caught Ben Revere in a rundown between third and home. He made a sprinting tag of Revere near the third base bag just as Cliff Pennington was trying to advance from first all the way to third on the play. Graveman tagged Revere, then leapt over Revere and tagged Pennington out as he tumbled to the ground. It was unclear what bothered Graveman after the play. But after a visit from trainers, he stayed in the game and pitched well.

Attendance

Tonight's reported attendance in Anaheim was 37,603.

Up next

The A’s continue this nine-game road trip against the first-place Astros. Friday — Jharel Cotton (2-2, 4.76) vs. Charlie Morton (1-2, 4.29), 5:10 p.m. Saturday — Andrew Triggs (3-1, 2.43) vs. Joe Musgrove (1-1, 5.91), 4:10 p.m. Sunday — Jesse Hahn (1-1, 2.08) vs. lefty Dallas Keuchel (4-0, 1.22), 11:10 a.m. All three games air on NBC Sports California.