Familiar faces tabbed to lead A's minor leaguers


Familiar faces tabbed to lead A's minor leaguers

The minor league coaching carousel has come to a halt as the Oakland Athletics organization has all of its coaches in place for the 2013 season. The big news is the promotion of Steve Scarsone from manager of the Double-A Midland Rockhounds to manager of the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats.Scarsone replaces Darren Bush, who was promoted to Oakland to be the A's bullpen coach. For Scarsone, the promotion is a big career step as all four of the previous River Cats managers have gone on to coach or manage in the major leagues. On the surface these may not look like big moves, but the A's lean heavily on their minor league system to produce players that are ready to contribute when called upon. The coaches in the minor leagues play a crucial role for the A's big league team. Last year guys like Brandon Moss, Chris Carter, Josh Donaldson, A.J. Griffin, Dan Straily, and Evan Scribner all played important roles for the A's. Straily and Griffin both spent time under Scarsone's leadership last season."He comes every day with the same energy win or lose," Straily said of Scarsone. "He tries to instill that attitude that we are better than everyone else in each ballplayer. He's a lot like every other member that the A's have put into the coaching staff. He's positive, upbeat, and he's not a negative person." Scarsone has managed several teams in the A's organization. He led Single-A Kane County in 2009, Single-A Advanced Stockton in 2010, and Double-A Midland for the past two seasons. He also managed for two years in the Diamondbacks Minor League system. He not only has shown good leadership qualities as a manager but also is a proven teacher and instructor," A's director of player development Keith Lieppman said. "We believe he will carry on in the fine tradition of the outstanding young managers that have led the River Cats throughout their history."Former A's bullpen coach Rick Rodriguez has been named the River Cats pitching coach. He spent two years as the bullpen coach in Oakland before being replaced by Bush. Rodriguez is the longest tenured pitching coach in River Cats history. He spent 10 seasons in Sacramento. He replaces Scott Emerson, who will now be the organization's roving pitching instructor. Emerson spent two seasons as the River Cats pitching coach. Emerson coached Jarrod Parker, Straily, and Griffin last season and they all had an impact on the A's starting rotation. He is an outspoken guy with a wealth of knowledge and should fit very well in his new role. "I think it's a great opportunity for him," Straily said. "He's a well liked guy, knows what he's talking about, knows how to evaluate talent and develop it, and that's what that position is for." The job he is taking over used to belong to Gil Patterson who left for the Yankees organization. Greg Sparks returns to the River Cats for his second season as hitting coach. Aaron Nieckula will be the manager of the Midland Rockhounds after seven seasons as manager with the A's Single-A affiliates.

A's lineup: Brand new spot for Pinder; Mengden makes first start of 2017


A's lineup: Brand new spot for Pinder; Mengden makes first start of 2017

Bob Melvin and Terry Francona issued their lineups for today's series opener in Cleveland.

In addition, the A's placed Kendall Graveman on the 10-day disabled list with a right shoulder strain (retroactive to May 26) and recalled Daniel Mengden from Triple-A Nashville.

Mengden will make his first start of 2017 today.

A's (22-27)
1. Rajai Davis (R) CF
2. Chad Pinder (R) SS
3. Jed Lowrie (S) 2B
4. Khris Davis (R) LF
5. Yonder Alonso (L) 1B
6. Ryon Healy (R) DH
7. Stephen Vogt (L) C
8. Trevor Plouffe (R) 3B
9. Matt Joyce (L) RF
P. Daniel Mengden RHP 

Indians (25-23)
1. Jason Kipnis (L) 2B
2. Francisco Lindor (S) SS
3. Michael Brantley (L) LF
4. Carlos Santana (S) 1B
5. Edwin Encarnacion (R) DH
6. Jose Ramirez (S) 3B
7. Yan Gomes (R) C
8. Bradley Zimmer (L) CF
9. Austin Jackson (R) RF
P. Carlos Carrasco RHP (4-2, 2.93 ERA)

Faltering defense continues to be A's unwanted storyline

Faltering defense continues to be A's unwanted storyline

NEW YORK — A weekend that began with promise instead wound up feeling like another lost opportunity for the A’s.

Their defense once again paved the way to their undoing Sunday, and there were plenty of players willing to accept responsibility for a 9-5 loss to the Yankees in the rubber match of a three-game series in the Bronx.

When right fielder Matt Joyce had a catchable fly ball pop out of his glove for a third-inning error that loaded the bases, it seemed inevitable the mistake would come back to haunt the A’s.

On cue, one-time Oakland draft pick Aaron Judge drilled an opposite-field grand slam off Andrew Triggs to a turn a 2-1 A’s lead into a 5-2 deficit. Joyce said he couldn’t stomach to watch the replay of his missed catch afterward.

“It just hit my glove and I dropped it,” Joyce said. “Obviously that’s pretty tough to swallow for me in that situation. For me, I think that’s an easy play. It’s a little embarrassing. It’s obviously really frustrating, especially with what it led to.”

The A’s (22-27) chalked up two more errors, giving them a staggering 49 in 49 games played. When play began Sunday, they had at least 10 more errors than every other big league club. It’s no surprise, therefore, that they also lead the majors with 35 unearned runs, after five of the nine runs they surrendered Sunday were unearned.

That kind of bumbling play in the field is making it difficult for the A’s to maintain leads when they claim one, and tough to mount comebacks when they fall behind. In a factoid that helps explain why the A’s likely find themselves looking at another summer of selling off veterans, they have won just one of the eight road series they’ve played in 2017. Their 7-17 record away from Oakland is second worst in the American League.

The A’s took Friday’s series opener 4-1 but dropped the final two to the AL East leaders.

“I’ve said often, there’s a psychology to it too,” manager Bob Melvin said. “You feel like you have a chance to battle and come back and score some runs, and when your defense is poor, sometimes mentally it’s tough to overcome or get past it. We just have to keep working on it.”

Leading 5-2, New York added to its lead in the fourth with help from a Josh Phegley throwing error on Aaron Hicks’ stolen base. Hicks wound up on third and came home on Chris Carter’s sacrifice fly. The A’s pulled to within 7-5 on Khris Davis’ 15th homer which in the eighth, a two-run shot. But the Yankees answered right back with two more off reliever John Axford, who hurt his cause with two walks.

There were other mishaps that didn’t cost the A’s runs, like Davis making a poor throw to third that allowed a Yankee runner to advance an extra base, and third baseman Ryon Healy losing a foul pop up in the sun.

Regardless of the defensive issues, A’s starter Andrew Triggs wasn’t looking to hand off blame. Just one of the six runs he allowed was earned over his six innings. But Triggs still had a chance to preserve a 2-1 lead in the third if he could have retired Judge with two outs and the bases loaded. Instead he left a 2-1 sinker over the plate and Judge mashed it over the right field wall.

“In my mind it was either sinker away or sinker in, and I thought away was better,” Triggs said. “But you gotta execute the pitch and I didn’t.”

It was the first career grand slam for Judge, who was drafted in the 31st round out of high school by Oakland in 2010 but opted to attend Fresno State. The Yankees took him in the first round in 2013, and in clubbing his 16th homer Sunday (tying him with Mike Trout for the league lead), Judge continued building his strong early case for the Rookie of the Year award.