Drew's arrival creates platoon at second

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Drew's arrival creates platoon at second

OAKLAND -- The big news came Monday night when the A's announced the acquisition of shortstop Stephen Drew from the Diamondbacks. The surprising news came when Oakland optioned starting second baseman Jemile Weeks to Triple-A Sacramento.

NEWS: A's option Weeks
With an opening at second base, the A's are starting Adam Rosales on Tuesday. Melvin says that Cliff Pennington will likely start there on Wednesday after getting some work in at second base prior to Tuesday's game. The A's feel Pennington is a strong enough defender that he will be able to handle the adjustment. "Right now his opportunity is at second base," Melvin said. "He understands that, and he is going to work as hard as he can to be a very good second baseman." Meanwhile, Stephen Drew arrived around 4:15 p.m. He is in the lineup batting second and starting at shortstop. The A's are counting on Drew to rebound offensively after struggling in Arizona since returning from a right ankle fracture that forced him to miss a total of 137 games. "Our scouts have told us that they haven't seen anything that would suggest the mobility isn't there." Melvin said. "He's 29, our feeling is that he is going through a little bit of a rough period offensively after coming back from that injury in the middle of the season."Drew has played in 40 games this season. He is batting .069 (2-for-29) in his last nine games, and is hitting .193 this season. Drew feels he is making good contact at the plate and the hits will start coming. "I feel good, the outcome is not what I wanted," Drew said. "I was hitting a lot of line outs the first month when I was up there, and you know, that's baseball. It's a humbling game and hopefully this next month they'll fall."Drew will be wearing No. 5 for the A's. Chip Hale previously wore that number. Drew probably didn't have to twist the A's bench coach's arm too hard. They have a good working relationship together. Hale was Drew's Manager in Triple-A, and coached with Melvin when the A's current skipper was the Diamondbacks manager."It's a fresh start for me," Drew said. "Getting to play with Bo-Mel again and Chip, it's going to be a good thing." After making the trade on Monday night, A's assistant general manager David Forst said that Melvin and Hale helped provide information on what kind of player Drew was. Their input and the work of their scouts gave the A's the impression that Drew would be able to help them. "He helps the team all the way around," Melvin said. "I know he's had some struggles this year, at least on the surface looking at the numbers. I've seen this guy be an all-around player."In 2008, Drew batted .291 with 44 doubles, 11 triples, 21 home runs and 67 RBIs in 152 games. He was the named the BBWAA Diamondbacks Player of the Year. "It's weird, you play for a team for seven years and then just everybody heads different directions," Drew said. "I am happy to be here and hope I can help this team win."

Notes: Key A's relievers gear up for exhibition debuts

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Notes: Key A's relievers gear up for exhibition debuts

MESA, Ariz. — The A’s are targeting Thursday to start easing their veteran relievers into Cactus League action.

Manager Bob Melvin said Ryan Madson and John Axford would be among those making their spring debuts Thursday against the Texas Rangers. Similar to last season, the A’s have held back with some of their relievers in an effort to keep their arms fresh.

Lefty Sean Doolittle, who has dealt with shoulder injuries the past two years, has yet to appear in a game. The same goes with Ryan Dull and Liam Hendriks. And the A’s still await Santiago Casilla’s visa issues to clear so he can report to camp from the Dominican Republic.

Melvin estimated that he likes to get his veteran relievers into nine or 10 games during the Cactus League but that it’s not a hard and fast rule.

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Also pitching Thursday in relief will be Frankie Montas, a pitcher who has impressed team officials in his early bullpen sessions. One of three pitchers acquired from the Dodgers in the Rich Hill/Josh Reddick trade, Montas threw just 16 innings in the minors last year because of two rib injuries, then tacked on some impressive work in the Arizona Fall League.

The A’s want to give Montas a look as a starter this season, but Melvin said Montas won’t be stretched out to start during camp because of his small workload last season. The hard-throwing Montas ranks fifth on Baseball America’s list of top A’s prospects.

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Heavy rain hit the Phoenix Valley early Tuesday morning but by 11 a.m. local time, the sun had poked through the clouds and the A’s were taking infield practice at Hohokam Stadium. The wet weather relegated them to taking batting practice in the indoor cages in advance of a 1:05 p.m. (MST) game against the visiting Cleveland Indians. For those curious, yes, Rajai Davis is leading off and playing center for the A’s against the team for which he hit a dramatic Game 7 home run in the World Series last fall.

Also of note, lefty closer Andrew Miller — MVP of the AL Championship Series — is scheduled to pitch for the Indians.

A's spring training Day 14: A one-sided Cactus League rivalry

A's spring training Day 14: A one-sided Cactus League rivalry

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Debate the significance of an A’s exhibition win over the Giants if you will, but don’t question its significance to Bob Melvin.

Beating the team in black and orange means a lot to Oakland’s manager no matter what the calendar reads. On Monday, the teams played a late-February game under an overcast sky and occasional light rain at Scottsdale Stadium.

Not exactly regular-season like conditions. And with both teams’ everyday players having exited the game early, the A’s held on for a 5-4 victory that ran their Cactus League winning streak to eight over the Giants.

Counting exhibitions in the Bay Area too, the A’s are 18-6 against their Bay Area rival in their past 24 spring games.

“Look, when the Giants and A’s play, there’s a little more to it,” said Melvin, who grew up in the Bay Area and played three seasons for the Giants. “You play your spring games and you’re excited about getting to play these guys. And, especially, our youngsters should be. They know the way I feel about it. The whole Bay Area is watching when we play each other.”

Matt Joyce homered deep to right off Jeff Samardzija in the top of the first, giving the first-year Athletic two home runs in two games with his new club. Stephen Vogt blooped an RBI single in the first and Ryon Healy doubled home two runs in the second.

The Giants rallied to tie it 4-4 in the seventh with three runs off minor league reliever Trey Cochran-Gill. But Adam Rosales drew a bases-loaded walk in the eighth to give the A’s the lead back as they posted their first victory in three Cactus League games this spring.

NOTEWORTHY: Starters Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea both threw for the A’s, with Manaea in particular earning strong praise for his two scoreless innings.

The lefty felt very good about his slider and changeup, and according to Healy, when he went to the plate for his third at-bat, Giants catcher Buster Posey commented on how good Manaea’s changeup looked. Manaea got both Posey and Kelby Tomlinson swinging on the pitch in the third.

It was the slider, his third-best pitch, that Manaea is trying to hone.

“I was really, really happy with how my slider was,” he said. “It was probably the best one I’ve thrown in a couple years. It just felt really good out of my hand and had some good movement.”

Added Melvin: “If he gets that one to (the) back foot of a rightie, now he’s going to have three plus-pitches.”

Graveman escaped his one and only inning of work unscored upon when he stranded runners on second and third.

NEW GUYS: Joyce, likely to platoon in right field with Mark Canha, has played in two exhibitions, and twice he’s gone deep on 1-2 fastballs that caught the inner half of the plate. On Monday, Melvin batted him second and Joyce went deep off Samardzija.

“I can’t even talk to that guy,” Healy said with a smile. “He says he’s just trying to put the bat on the ball, and he has two homers.”

As for another first-year Athletic, there’s still no concrete word on when reliever Santiago Casilla will report to camp. He remains held up in the Dominican Republic as the visa process plays out. Melvin admitted a bit of concern just because Casilla is slated to play for his national team in the World Baseball Classic, and Melvin would like to get Casilla in camp for a stretch before he departs for that.

The Dominican Republic plays its first game March 9 in Miami.

“I’d like to get him here — I’d like to meet him,” Melvin said. “It’s not his fault.”

Melvin said a typical schedule would have relievers appearing in nine or 10 exhibitions before the team heads north, but that he didn’t think that would be necessary for Casilla. It’s also worth noting that none of the A’s other front-line relievers have pitched in their first game yet.

ODDS AND ENDS: Vogt, getting his first start behind the plate, and Rajai Davis each had two hits. … Shortstop Franklin Barreto, the A’s top prospect, played the final four innings at second base. Yairo Munoz, another highly touted infield prospect who’s in his first big league camp, entered in the same inning at third base. … Melvin praised reliever Kyle Finnegan, who came over from minor league camp for the day and handled the ninth for the save.