Griffin's crazy story could get even better

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Griffin's crazy story could get even better

Programming note: Tune in to SportsNet Central's A's October Quest tonight at 5:30pm on Comcast SportsNet California leading up to today's ALDS Game 4 in Oakland!

OAKLAND -- Last year at this time A.J. Griffin was fresh off competing in the Single-A playoffs with the Stockton Ports. With his baseball season finished he was probably honing in on employment at the Nike Running store in the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, where he worked at during the offseason. Instead of preparing his resume to sell shoes, Griffin is preparing to pitch in the biggest game of his life. A win-or-go-home game against the Detroit Tigers in the American League Division Series. It's hard to say that selling shoes or pitching in the Minor League playoffs qualify as postseason experience. "The California League and the Major Leagues are pretty comparable," Griffin said with a laugh. "I'm just kidding. Yeah, it's still 6090, just try to go out there and try to pitch to the best of your ability."I didn't have a press conference this time last year or nothing," he added. It has been a heck of a ride for Griffin. He wasn't even on the A's radar this spring. At one point Bob Melvin even admitted he hadn't even heard of him when the A's opened up camp in Phoenix, Arizona this year. And why should Melvin have known who he was? Griffin didn't even make the A's Spring Training roster. Still, here's Griffin, ready to take the mound at the Oakland Coliseum in Game Four of the ALDS, speaking to the assembled media in his own press conference. Cool, calm, collected, and even cracking jokes. "I feel really confident still," Griffin said. "Just going out there -- I love to compete. I love to play baseball. I love to pitch. I get to do that in front of millions of people." The El Cajon, California native started the season in Double-A. He made his first start with Oakland on June 24, taking Brandon McCarthy's spot in the starting rotation, and went an Oakland record 6-0 in his first 10 starts. He finished the season 7-1 with a 3.06 ERA. His only loss came at the hands of the Detroit Tigers. "It's a clean slate now, it's the postseason," Griffin said. "I'm 0 and 0. I haven't pitched yet. I'm just looking forward to going out there and contributing."
RELATED: A.J. Griffin 2012 game logs
Griffin's loss to the Tigers was part of a skid the rookie pitcher has been on to end the season. He has a 7.27 ERA over his last four starts. The Tigers scored five runs against Griffin in four and two-thirds innings in their last meeting in Detroit. A's manager Bob Melvin believes Griffin's struggles are anything but physical. "What we try to stress with him is focus on the good things that have happened, not the couple of tough starts you've had," Melvin said. "You've accomplished a lot up to this point and pitched a lot of really good games and know that your team feels very good about you on the mound." Griffin, 24, will be the third rookie to take the mound in this postseason series against Detroit. Like the A's pitchers before him in the ALDS he is trying to treat this start no differently than his previous regular season outings."We'll go out there tonight and just play baseball like we've been doing all year," Griffin said. "Just try to soak up the moment and just have the best moment we can and hopefully try to go out there and shock some people." Max Scherzer:While it isn't as dramatic of a come back as Brett Anderson's on Tuesday night, Max
Scherzer will take the mound against the A's after experiencing issues in his right throwing shoulder and right ankle. Scherzer, 28, left his September 18 start against the A's after just two innings pitched. "I needed more rest and that's what we gave it," Scherzer said of his shoulder.Scherzer finished second in Major League Baseball in strikeouts with 231, only behind Justin Verlander who had 239. He threw four scoreless innings against the Royals on October 3, and deemed himself ready for the playoffs. He had a 16-7 record and a 3.74 ERA for the Tigers and could be a dangerous adversary for the A's. He was held to 75 pitches last Wednesday against Kansas City but doesn't think he'll have any limitations. "The way I've recovered over the past 10 days has been really good," Scherzer said. "That start in Kansas City, I was able to go out there pain free, let it fly, and it felt good."RELATED: Max Scherzer 2012 game logs
He averaged 94.2 MPH on his fastball this season. Keep an eye on his velocity during his start on Wednesday. When he left his previous start against the A's he wasn't hitting the mid 90s like he usually does. Scherzer averaged 11.08 strikeouts-per-nine innings this season, and the A's hitters set a Major League strikeout record, so this could be a bad match up for Oakland. On paper the pitching match up should favor Scherzer over Griffin. If the Tigers' pitcher is 100 percent, that is. The A's will have the home field advantage, and the x-factor of the crazy crowd on their side. If the A's can find a way to take Game Four to even up the series then the A's will push the series to a critical Game Five. "We're not going to quit until the last out is recorded and it's been that way most of the year," Griffin said. "And we're just going out there and playing some competitive baseball."

A's spring training Day 41: Maxwell's two-HR day can't stave off bad news

A's spring training Day 41: Maxwell's two-HR day can't stave off bad news

PHOENIX — Bruce Maxwell homered twice against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, and his reward was a demotion to the minors.

Awkward timing, for sure. But the news itself wasn’t much of a shock to the A’s catcher, who knew he was the odd man out in a three-man roster battle. The A’s like the left-right platoon behind the plate. Stephen Vogt, who like Maxwell hits left-handed, wasn’t going anywhere. Josh Phegley is back healthy after knee surgery and has the advantage of being a right-handed hitter.

“I mean, I could have come out here and hit 1.000 and I probably still would have been in the same situation,” Maxwell said. “I can’t really do much about it. I try not to worry about it. At the end of the day everybody wants to play in the big leagues, but if the opportunity is not there you can’t stress about it.”

Manager Bob Melvin gave Maxwell the news in the dugout after he exited Oakland’s 11-1 victory, and Melvin certainly couldn’t give Maxwell a justifiable reason for the demotion except that the roster math doesn’t add up.

“Great day to have to do that,” Melvin said sarcastically. “But, he’ll be here at some point. We saw his progression last year, he did a great job for us. There’s nothing he did to suggest he needed to be sent down. It’s just a numbers game for him right now.”

The A’s batted around in a five-run third, knocking Brewers starter Matt Garza from the game after he recorded just seven outs. They tacked on four more in the fourth, with Maxwell going deep to left-center for a two-run homer off Jhan Marinez. In the sixth, he hit a solo shot off Corey Knebel to right-center and also added a run-scoring single to complete his four-RBI day.

Melvin has spoken often of the improving power shown by the 26-year-old Maxwell, who hit .283 with a homer and 14 RBI in 33 games with Oakland last season in his first major league call-up.

“If you look at the power numbers over the years, he’s getting better and better,” Melvin said. “He’s got the chance to be a 20-home run guy in the big leagues.”

NOTEWORTHY: Jharel Cotton held Milwaukee to just a run on four hits over 5 2/3 innings. He bounced back from a wobbly start against Seattle in which he walked five. On Sunday, his toughest challenge was staying loose as the A’s offense put up two time-consuming rallies. Twice, Cotton had to play catch while his teammates paraded around the bases.

But it sure didn’t affect him, as he struck out seven and walked one in his second-to-last spring training start.

“This one, I was more on the attack, using my fastball more so I can set up my changeup and off-speed pitches,” Cotton said. “I know everybody raves about the changeup, but I need my fastball to be there so I can throw that pitch off the fastball.”

He had an entertaining ongoing battle with six-time All-Star Ryan Braun. He struck out Braun on a cutter in the first, gave up a homer to left in the fourth, then battled back from a 3-0 count to get Braun swinging through a fastball in the sixth.

“I got him twice, he got me once,” Cotton said. “I think I won that battle today.”

HEALTH UPDATE: Daniel Mengden, who has missed all of spring with a broken right foot, is scheduled to get his walking boot removed Monday. Mengden said he’ll stay in Arizona for anywhere from two to four weeks, taking part in extended spring training. The good news for the right-hander: He’s been able to play catch while wearing the boot, so that’s a bit of a head-start for him once he gets full mobility with his foot. There’s no timetable yet for his return.

ODDS AND ENDS: The A’s knocked out 16 hits and recorded double-digit runs for the fifth time this spring. They improved to 16-12. … Alejandro De Aza, fighting for an outfield roster spot, went 2-for-3 with an RBI to raise his average to .300. … With few regulars making the trip to Maryvale Baseball Park, second baseman Max Schrock came over from minor league camp and once again made an impact, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI. … John Axford threw a scoreless inning of relief. Frankie Montas handled the final two innings, allowing one hit with two strikeouts and a walk. The hard-throwing prospect is a candidate for the bullpen as a multi-inning guy.

A's option catcher Bruce Maxwell to Triple-A; 37 players remain in camp

A's option catcher Bruce Maxwell to Triple-A; 37 players remain in camp

The A's optioned catcher Bruce Maxwell to Triple-A Nashville Sunday, the club announced

Maxwell, 26, went 3-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI in the A's 11-1 win over the Brewers Sunday. Both home runs were his lone of the spring. 

In 2016, Maxwell played in 26 games with the A's after his promotion from Triple-A. He hit .283 with one homer. 

The 2012 second-round draft pick is a career .266/.346/.370 hitter in the minors with 25 home runs. Maxwell is the A's No. 10 prospect by Baseball America. 

The A’s now have 37 players in big league camp.