Griffin's spring struggles continue vs. Rockies

Griffin's spring struggles continue vs. Rockies
March 13, 2014, 11:30 pm
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A.J. Griffin has given up 19 hits and 10 earned runs in 8.2 innings over three starts during spring training. (AP)

BOX SCORE

PHOENIX – The technology was not yet in place, but A’s manager Bob Melvin at least got to dabble with instant replay in Thursday night’s 10-5 victory over the Colorado Rockies.

Melvin twice issued replay challenges on close plays at first base in which his runner was called out. He successfully got a second-inning call on Coco Crisp overturned but was denied on a call involving prospect Daniel Robertson in the eighth.

“Those are the ones I want to find out about,” Melvin said of the second play. “We had it as semi-inconclusive. You gotta find out which ones they’ll overturn. If it’s really close, they’ll probably stay with the call that’s made.”

[RELATED: Melvin successful in first chance to test replay system]

Melvin did not have communication with anyone in the clubhouse Thursday. In the regular season, teams reportedly will have a phone line that goes directly to a designated person in the clubhouse. For the A’s, that person is likely to be video coordinator Adam Rhoden. In spring training, coaches can communicate with the clubhouse via walkie-talkie, but Melvin wasn’t sure how quick that communication would be, so he just went with what the opinion was on the bench.

Replay officials are stationed in TV trucks just outside the stadium during spring training. But the plan during the regular season is for a rotating group of umpires to review plays from a central command center in New York.

The first replay review Thursday was unofficially clocked at 2 minutes, 10 seconds, with the second one lasting 2:55. MLB officials have said the goal is to complete reviews in about 90 seconds.

A recap of how the rest of the night went for Oakland:

THE GOOD
Makes sense to start with leadoff man Coco Crisp.

He went 2 for 3 with two RBI and three runs scored, and he’s showing signs of shaking his early Cactus League slump. His hustle led to a successful replay challenge. He also singled home a run and added a double.

Jed Lowrie is another player shaking off a slow start. He now has a five-game hitting streak and he cleared the bases with a three-run double in the fourth that gave the A’s the lead for good.

Catcher Stephen Vogt is making a strong push for a roster spot. He singled in his first at-bat and is now hitting .458 this spring. He also threw out Brandon Barnes on a first-inning steal attempt of second.

Nonetheless, Vogt appears to face an uphill battle to crack the Opening Day roster. Indications from within the organization are that the A’s are leaning toward keeping just two catchers, with Derek Norris and John Jaso the likely picks. Jaso and Vogt both hit left-handed, but Vogt has minor league options left. Jaso does not.

Keeping just two catchers, with Jaso playing a lot behind the plate, would seem to point to Brandon Moss getting significant time at DH and Daric Barton perhaps making the team as another first baseman. Barton is recovering well from a strained hamstring and is tentatively set to return to action Saturday.

Two bright spots came from the bullpen Thursday. Jesse Chavez continued to excel, tossing four shutout innings to close out the game, with four strikeouts and one walk. Luke Gregerson stranded runners at second and third with two strikeouts to end the top of the fifth.

THE BAD
Starter A.J. Griffin got knocked around again and carries a 10.38 ERA after three starts. The right-hander served up two long home runs – his first two of the spring after surrendering a major league-high 36 last season. He didn’t make it out of the fourth, as Colorado got to him for nine hits and five earned runs in 3 2/3 innings.

Griffin accurately pointed out that not all of the hits were solid. But stats are stats, and through three starts he has allowed 19 hits in 8 2/3 innings.

“My command is coming along a lot better,” Griffin said. “I felt like I spotted my fastball better. Making better quality pitches down in the zone. I felt like I was doing a little better job of that.”

But Melvin said Griffin is still getting hurt when he does miss location.

“He’s just getting some balls up in the middle of the plate,” the manager said. “Usually he pitches down in the zone. We’ve seen a couple of those, but he’s working on it.”

Griffin allowed both homers on fastballs – a first-pitch offering to Wilin Rosario in the second and a 3-2 pitch that Tim Wheeler launched well over the wall in right-center in the fourth.

Yoenis Cespedes still is trying to find his stroke. He went 0 for 4, though he picked up an RBI when a run scored on a hard chopper he hit that third baseman Charlie Culberson couldn’t come up with. Cespedes is batting .125 (4 for 32).

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