A's drop rain-shortened affair to Royals, 3-0


A's drop rain-shortened affair to Royals, 3-0


Any fans who toughed the rain for the first seven innings were defeated in the top of the eighth, when a cell moved over the Coliseum resulting in a substantial downpour. The game officially entered a rain delay at 10:01 p.m. as the tarp was rolled onto the field.The rain didn't stop falling all game, and neither did the A's batting averages. They were overmatched at the plate against power lefty and California native Danny Duffy. Cliff Pennington delivered Oakland's only hit, and Duffy finished with eight strikeoutsGraham Godfrey, making his fifth career start, did not fare as well. He was touched up for six hits and two runs.Persistent rain gave Jim Joyce's umpire crew the incentive they needed to officially call the game at 11:07 p.m.
It was the first rain-shortened game in Oakland since the A's were denied a chance to come back from a 16-7 ninth-inning deficit to the Rangers in 2005.
Starting pitching report: A's fourth starter Graham Godfrey had to wait six games before he got the nod, thanks to scheduling. He had to wait an additional 43 minutes to make his first start, thanks to rain.Three-up, three-down innings in the third and fifth book-ended a troublesome fourth, in which the Royals pushed across two runs. Still, it was a flared single and a defensive miscue that spurred the Royals' rally, and Godfrey did well to limit the damage.Godfrey threw 85 pitches to get through six innings, allowing six hits and two earned runs while walking one and striking out one. He took the loss in the first start of his first full MLB season.Bullpen report: Godfrey lasted six innings, giving way to Jerry Blevins in the seventh. The second pitch Blevins threw, an 89-mph fastball, was turned around by Mitch Maier for a solo home run to right field and a 3-0 Royals lead.At the plate: The A's looked patient against Danny Duffy early. Duffy, a California coast native who earned two wins in Oakland last year, was coaxed into 22 first-inning pitches. Jemile Weeks set the tone for the patient approach, seeing eight pitches before flying out in the A's first at-bat.But patience doesn't score runs. The A's managed just one hit against Duffy -- a double by Cliff Pennington in the nine-hole.Duffy looked good, mixing change-ups in the 70s with curve balls in the 80s and fastballs in the mid-90s over six innings of eight-strikeout baseball. He topped out at 97 mph on his seventh pitch of the game.The A's narrowly avoided instant offense in the sixth inning when Yoenis Cespedes smashed a no-doubter just wide of the left-field foul pole.In the field: Bob Melvin penciled Collin Cowgill and Anthony Recker into the lineup for the first time this season. Cowgill made Melvin look good in the second inning when, with two runners on and two away, Chris Getz roped a ball to right. It looked like the Royals would be on the board with extra bases, but Cowgill, who was playing shallow against the nine-hitter, recovered nicely, racing into the right-field corner to make the over-the-shoulder catch and end the inning.Over in center field, Yoenis Cespedes didn't have the same success on his tough play. Mike Moustakas sent one towards the 400-foot sign in dead center field. Cespedes had a beat on it, and tracked it to his glove, but he couldn't squeeze it. The bobbled ball fell safely to the warning track and the Royals were in business in the fourth.With a runner on and no outs in the seventh inning, Getz sharply grounded a ball to the right of second base. Weeks went down to field it on the backhand with delusions of a highlight-reel double play in mind. He failed to glove the ball cleanly, though, and was forced to bat the ball towards second with his bare hand. Pennington picked up the rolling ball bare-handed to record the force out.On the bases: Pennington, hitting out of the nine-hole, got the A's first knock. Standing on second base after he smacked a double, his mind must have strayed a moment, and Duffy took advantage. The Royals picked off Pennington for the one-four putout, and it was back to the drawing board for Oakland.Attendance: If ever you wanted to communicate with the players on the field, Tuesday was the day to do it.Steady rain delaying the battle between two of the four youngest teams in the majors drove down the attendance numbers as the announced crowd of 10,670 seemed much more sparse.That said, the right-field bleacher crowd -- rowdy on the second unofficial celebration of Bacon Tuesday -- showed ample life and could be heard throughout the stadium.Up next: The A's and Royals are scheduled to take the Coliseum field Wednesday at 12:35 p.m. in a rubber match pitting starting pitchers Brandon McCarthy (0-1, 2.25) and Bruce Chen (0-0, 0.00) against each other.

A's spring training Day 8: Top pick AJ Puk attracts a crowd

A's spring training Day 8: Top pick AJ Puk attracts a crowd

MESA, Ariz. — The A’s are excited about 2016 top pick A.J. Puk, that much was apparent by the crowd the lefty attracted for his first “live” bullpen session Tuesday.

Among those watching closely were executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane, general manager David Forst, manager Bob Melvin and pitching coach Curt Young.

Puk, who shaved about 20 pounds off his 6-foot-7 frame over the winter, looked strong against a group of hitters that included touted infield prospects Franklin Barreto and Yairo Munoz.

Melvin in particular liked the way Puk, the No. 6 overall pick out of the University of Florida, worked his curve ball into the mix. That’s a pitch he hadn’t used since high school, but he dusted it off back in the fall instructional league with some encouragement from minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson, and he’s working to sharpen it this spring as a complement to his fastball, slider and changeup.

“It’s just nice to have another pitch that’s slower than my other three pitches,” Puk said before Tuesday’s workout.

“It’s a four-pitch mix,” Melvin said. “He’s really starting to distinguish between this slider and curve ball. It was quite a crowd around his cage too. When you’re a young kid you tend to notice that, but I thought he responded really well.”

Puk, 21, is rooming with shortstop Richie Martin, a teammate at Florida whom the A’s made their top pick in 2015. They also lived near each other in Tampa this offseason and worked out together.

Puk comes off very quiet upon meeting him, but Martin warns against being fooled.

“It takes him a while, but once he feels comfortable he’ll break out. You’ll see.”

Melvin was impressed with Puk’s physical shape, saying he’s fielded his position well in pitchers’ fielding drills.

CAMP BATTLE Jesse Hahn will start the A’s Cactus League opener Saturday against the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs. It’ll be a chance for Hahn to make an early impression in his bid for the fifth starter spot.

“After the year he had (in 2016), it’s important for him this year. We have to show some faith in him,” Melvin said. “He performed well for us the year before. Last year wasn’t really consistent. We’ll try to get him out there and get him off to a good start.”

Kendall Graveman will take the ball in Sunday’s spring home opener against the Angels. Sonny Gray and Sean Manaea both will pitch Monday against the Giants and Jharel Cotton and Andrew Triggs will be among the group throwing Tuesday against the Indians.

PROSPECT WATCH: Sean Murphy, the A’s third-round pick in June, has shown a very strong throwing arm early in camp. Is it any wonder Melvin, an ex-catcher, was impressed?

“The kid can throw, it’s special,” Melvin said. “We really like him.”

NOTEWORTHY: Still no word on when reliever Santiago Casilla will arrive at camp from the Dominican Republic. Melvin said he isn’t concerned at this stage, and noted that Casilla has been working out at the team’s complex in the Dominican Republic and gave a motivational talk to the younger players there.

Kaval: A's must 'swing for the fences' in choosing ballpark site

Kaval: A's must 'swing for the fences' in choosing ballpark site

MESA, Ariz. — After spending a few days at spring training, A’s president Dave Kaval heads back to the Bay Area on Tuesday to continue work on the team’s search for a ballpark site.

There are so many factors to consider — location, public transportation access, parking, government obligations to be fulfilled, etc. — it’s easy to understand why it’s such an all-encompassing process.

Kaval shared some detailed thoughts on all of the potential sites the A’s are considering during a visit on the A’s Insider Podcast. Here’s some highlights:

The A’s have narrowed down to four locations in Oakland to build a privately financed ballpark: Brooklyn Basin, Howard Terminal, Laney College and the current Coliseum site on which they play.

Are these four all uniquely different from each other or do they share some common traits?

“I think all of them can fulfill our long-term vision of this urban area around the ballpark,” Kaval said. “Think of Fenway, Wrigley … all of them can achieve that vision. We want to make sure with such a big decision that we swing for the fences. … I think the Coliseum is probably the hardest to create kind of an urban village, but I think it’s possible, and we’re not ruling it out.

"But all the other locations can have neighborhoods around the ballpark where people can live and you can just have a really intimate experience around the ballpark.”

There hasn’t been the same buzz about Brooklyn Basin as Howard Terminal. Located close to the water, does it offer similar attributes as Howard Terminal?

“It’s very close. There’s a couple different places the ballpark could go down there,” he said. “You’re closer to the water, which is exciting, and I think being on the water provides the ability to have water taxis, ferries, other transit options that kind of lower the requirement for parking, lower the requirement for walking or biking. And that actually can be a really great thing for the fan experience.”

Howard Terminal offers a big potential payoff with the terrific views available. But there are some substantial hurdles, not the least of which are the government regulations and approvals required to build right along the water.

“If you want to actually develop something in there, you need to have legislation from the state of California. That’s just something that has to happen,” Kaval said. “So when we think about the steps to get the individual sites (approved) and break ground, it’s just another one you have to do at that site. So you have to weigh, is it worth the time, effort, political opposition that might come up to pursue that type of effort? The site is so iconic that we’ve been keeping it in the mix because, wow, it could just be something that is a game changer.”

That’s just a sample of the many topics Kaval touched on over the course of the podcast.