Godfrey well on his way to become A's No.4 starter


Godfrey well on his way to become A's No.4 starter

The Giants spent 112 million to keep their No. 2 starter, and judging by the reaction, it was worth every dime.

The As spent five innings to sort out their No. 4 and No. 5 starters, and though manager Bob Melvin is playing coy even now, Graham Godfreys five scoreless innings went a long way toward making his mind up for him.

We grant you that Matt Cains deal is the bigger deal, bigger than Dallas Bradens latest shoulder setbackvisit to New York for a specialists evaluation, and definitely bigger than Godfreys breakout start.

But it cant always be about the look on Larry Baers face when he helps burn someone elses money, or Cains reserve when every atom of his being craved to jump shirtless onto an interview table and shriek, IM RICH! RICH, I TELL YOU! IM THE KING OF THE FREAKING WORLD!

However, choosing not to imitate the Lexington Police Scanner in his moment of fiduciary triumph is not Cains way. He tried to pass it off as one more day on the job.

And so did Godfrey for a different reason. He was in his way just as happy with his five spotless innings (four hits, three strikeouts, no walks) as Cain was with his 112 million new best friends, after a spring which Godfrey charitably described as inconsistent, to say the least.

Im pretty satisfied with it, to tell you the truth, Godfrey said. It was definitely a confidence booster.

Godfrey was most impressed for public consumption by his strike percentage and his ability to use his breaking ball when he fell behind, and he did acknowledge a number of strong defensive plays by those behind him, particularly the strange Josh Reddick double of (a) throwing behind Aubrey Huff on a single and helping the ponderous Giant reach second, and then b) throwing him out at the plate moments later.

But on a day when Bradens condition started to look season-threatening, Godfreys outing stood out even more than Eric Sogards home run or Yoenis Cespedes ringing double, if for no better reason than the As needed Godfreys outing most of all.

What surprised me was how few pitches he threw, manager Bob Melvin said. We needed to get a look at him, but we couldnt stretch him out too long, so the way he looked really made a difference in how were going to handle the fourth and fifth spots (in the rotation).

In fact, Melvin all but said that Tyson Ross start tomorrow in Oakland against the Giants would go a long way toward determining which of the two would be the fourth starter, and which would start the year in Sacramento for a start, and then return in time for the game on the 17th against the Angels, the first time the No. 5 starter would need to appear.

Well, let me say this, the manager said. Well have a decision tomorrow.

And since he didnt have a decision Monday night, one can infer that Ross has a lot to say about who pitches when in a rotation that took another blow when Bradens shoulder went for another walk in the woods.

As for the game itself, Oakland broke early with two in the third off a surprisingly strike-zone-skittish Madison Bumgarner, but a run in the sixth off Jordan Norberto and three more off Fautino de los Santos in the seventh sent a surprisingly large crowd of 41,823 home satisfied. Melky Cabrera had three more hits, including his fourth home run of the spring, and Brandon Belt added a single and double to bump his March-and-beyond average to .391.

For the As, shortstop Cliff Pennington tweaked a groin muscle and was pulled after one at-bat, but the injury is not considered serious by anyone not named Cliff Pennington.

But for Graham Godfrey, nothing hurt. He felt fine, in fact. He made one small step toward his own 112 million, with many more still to go.

Hey, a fellow can pitch five innings and dream, cant he?

A's spring training Day 13: Gossett part of fifth starter mix

A's spring training Day 13: Gossett part of fifth starter mix

MESA, Ariz. — An unexpected opportunity came Daniel Gossett’s way Sunday, and the young right-hander took it in stride.

When the A’s adjusted their starting rotation, Kendall Graveman got bumped to Monday and Gossett learned he’d be taking the ball to start Sunday’s Cactus League home opener against the Los Angeles Angels.

“I’m here for what they need me for,” Gossett said. “So anything they need, gimme the ball.”

He spun two scoreless innings in a game Oakland lost 5-3 at Hohokam Stadium. A nice first impression for Gossett, indeed, but the truth is A’s officials were already quite familiar with him.

A second-round pick out of Clemson in 2014, Gossett impressed at three levels of the farm system in 2016, beginning the year with Single-A Stockton and finishing it with Triple-A Nashville.

This is his first big league camp, and manager Bob Melvin even mentioned Gossett as being part of the fifth starter conversation.

“He impressed everybody in the organization last year, so when talking about that fifth spot, who knows?” Melvin said before the game.

The only blemishes on Gossett’s day were the pair of walks he issued. After walking Jefrey Marte to lead off the second, he got a lift from his catcher, as Josh Phegley fired a strike to second to nail Marte trying to steal.

“A pitcher’s best friend, I guess,” Gossett said. He went 10-6 with a 2.69 ERA across 27 starts at all three levels of the minors last year, and his 151 strikeouts led the A’s farm system. Gossett’s fastball ranges anywhere from 90-95 on the gun. He throws a changeup that gets the most swings and misses, plus a slider and curve.

Grady Fuson, an A’s special assistant to the general manager, liked the adjustments he saw with Gossett over the course of last season.

“He’s a super kid, a grinder,” Fuson said over the winter. “He’s a guy that hadn’t struck many guys out and had been very hittable in the strike zone. (In 2016), he started executing to different parts of the zone that limits the hard contact.”

CAMP BATTLE: Alejandro De Aza sparked the A’s first rally in the third Sunday with a triple, then scored on Mark Canha’s double. With Jake Smolinski sidelined currently by a shoulder issue, it’s a good time for De Aza, a non-roster invitee to camp, to make his mark. The door could be open for him to make a push to make the roster as a fifth outfielder.

“He’s an interesting guy,” Melvin said of the nine-year veteran. “He knows how to play the game, he can play all three outfield spots. We’ve seen him before when he’s given us trouble, too, with the White Sox.”

Another contender for a reserve outfield spot is Jaycob Brugman, who has yet to crack the majors but is already on the 40-man roster. He singled home a run in the seventh. Like De Aza and Smolinski, Brugman can play center field, and it stands to reason the A’s will want to carry someone who can back up Rajai Davis at that position.

NOTEWORTHY: Phegley admitted to some butterflies before getting behind the plate for his first game since July, when a right knee injury wiped out the rest of his season.

But he looked good springing up to nail Marte on the second-inning steal attempt. The A’s are counting on Phegley returning to his role as the right-handed hitting platoon partner with Stephen Vogt behind the plate.

STOCK RISING: Melvin was impressed, and entertained, by the first look he got at reliever Simon Castro on Saturday against the Chicago Cubs. Castro retired Kris Bryant to strand a runner at third, the only hitter he faced. But it was what happened before the at-bat that caught Melvin’s attention.

“When he came to the mound he was pretty vocal,” Melvin noted. “He was fired up, telling the guys ‘Let’s go!’ I haven’t heard that too many times out of pitchers, let alone in spring training. So he impressed me with his eagerness to pitch.”

FAMILIAR FACES: Campy Campaneris and Blue Moon Odom each threw out ceremonial first pitches before Sunday’s exhibition home opener, which drew a smallish crowd of 4,072.

A’s reliever, movie buff Axford makes 2017 Oscars predictions

A’s reliever, movie buff Axford makes 2017 Oscars predictions

Update: Axford finished the night correctly predicting 19 of 24 Oscars this year.


A's reliever John Axford is not your casual movie fan. 

Axford majored in Film at Notre Dame and has a proven track record when it comes to the biggest night for movies. 

The last two years, Axford correctly predicted 17 of 24 winners for the Academy Awards. In 2014, Axford went a perfect 18-of-18 with his predictions. 

On Saturday, Axford offered 24 predictions for the 2017 Oscars. 

Axford is a clear believer in La La Land, choosing the film for eights Oscars, after winning a record-breaking seven Golden Globes. 

Will he go a perfect 24-for-24 this year?