SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Debate the significance of an A’s exhibition win over the Giants if you will, but don’t question its significance to Bob Melvin.
Beating the team in black and orange means a lot to Oakland’s manager no matter what the calendar reads. On Monday, the teams played a late-February game under an overcast sky and occasional light rain at Scottsdale Stadium.
Not exactly regular-season like conditions. And with both teams’ everyday players having exited the game early, the A’s held on for a 5-4 victory that ran their Cactus League winning streak to eight over the Giants.
Counting exhibitions in the Bay Area too, the A’s are 18-6 against their Bay Area rival in their past 24 spring games.
“Look, when the Giants and A’s play, there’s a little more to it,” said Melvin, who grew up in the Bay Area and played three seasons for the Giants. “You play your spring games and you’re excited about getting to play these guys. And, especially, our youngsters should be. They know the way I feel about it. The whole Bay Area is watching when we play each other.”
Matt Joyce homered deep to right off Jeff Samardzija in the top of the first, giving the first-year Athletic two home runs in two games with his new club. Stephen Vogt blooped an RBI single in the first and Ryon Healy doubled home two runs in the second.
The Giants rallied to tie it 4-4 in the seventh with three runs off minor league reliever Trey Cochran-Gill. But Adam Rosales drew a bases-loaded walk in the eighth to give the A’s the lead back as they posted their first victory in three Cactus League games this spring.
NOTEWORTHY: Starters Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea both threw for the A’s, with Manaea in particular earning strong praise for his two scoreless innings.
The lefty felt very good about his slider and changeup, and according to Healy, when he went to the plate for his third at-bat, Giants catcher Buster Posey commented on how good Manaea’s changeup looked. Manaea got both Posey and Kelby Tomlinson swinging on the pitch in the third.
It was the slider, his third-best pitch, that Manaea is trying to hone.
“I was really, really happy with how my slider was,” he said. “It was probably the best one I’ve thrown in a couple years. It just felt really good out of my hand and had some good movement.”
Added Melvin: “If he gets that one to (the) back foot of a rightie, now he’s going to have three plus-pitches.”
Graveman escaped his one and only inning of work unscored upon when he stranded runners on second and third.
NEW GUYS: Joyce, likely to platoon in right field with Mark Canha, has played in two exhibitions, and twice he’s gone deep on 1-2 fastballs that caught the inner half of the plate. On Monday, Melvin batted him second and Joyce went deep off Samardzija.
“I can’t even talk to that guy,” Healy said with a smile. “He says he’s just trying to put the bat on the ball, and he has two homers.”
As for another first-year Athletic, there’s still no concrete word on when reliever Santiago Casilla will report to camp. He remains held up in the Dominican Republic as the visa process plays out. Melvin admitted a bit of concern just because Casilla is slated to play for his national team in the World Baseball Classic, and Melvin would like to get Casilla in camp for a stretch before he departs for that.
The Dominican Republic plays its first game March 9 in Miami.
“I’d like to get him here — I’d like to meet him,” Melvin said. “It’s not his fault.”
Melvin said a typical schedule would have relievers appearing in nine or 10 exhibitions before the team heads north, but that he didn’t think that would be necessary for Casilla. It’s also worth noting that none of the A’s other front-line relievers have pitched in their first game yet.
ODDS AND ENDS: Vogt, getting his first start behind the plate, and Rajai Davis each had two hits. … Shortstop Franklin Barreto, the A’s top prospect, played the final four innings at second base. Yairo Munoz, another highly touted infield prospect who’s in his first big league camp, entered in the same inning at third base. … Melvin praised reliever Kyle Finnegan, who came over from minor league camp for the day and handled the ninth for the save.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For a player who impressed so much in the second half last season, Ryon Healy’s role remains a bit hazy entering 2017.
The A’s insist he’ll get consistent at-bats — the question is where. As the roster shapes up, Healy will bounce between first base, designated hitter and occasional time at third base when newcomer Trevor Plouffe isn’t in the lineup.
Healy sounds game for whatever might be in store, when asked if he’d rather be guaranteed to play in the field every day.
“I think that’s any player,” Healy said. “But as long as I’m on the big league roster and I’m playing every day in the lineup and contributing to the A’s winning ballgames, I’m going to be a happy camper, that’s for sure.”
Healy earned his first big league promotion as the A’s came out of the All-Star break last summer. He hit .305 in 73 games as Oakland’s everyday third baseman, and he led American League rookies in hits (82) and extra-base hits (33) in the second half.
But when the A’s signed Plouffe in the offseason to man third base, it complicated Healy’s situation because Yonder Alonso remains as the presumed first baseman against right-handed pitchers. Healy, 25, was primarily a first baseman until last season, and he’ll spend this spring getting ready at both corner spots, though A’s Bob Melvin said first base will be more of a priority.
Melvin has talked with Healy already to make sure they’re on the same page about how he’s likely to be used.
“We’ve had conversations with that,” Melvin said. “Shoot, everybody wants to get into a routine and have one spot to play and hit one place in the lineup. That’s just not how we do things here. You try to communicate that to him ahead of time and prepare him for the role he will have. And he’ll prepare very well for it.” Healy, bothered by some quadriceps soreness early in camp, started at first in his exhibition debut Monday and lined a two-run double to left-center off Giants reliever Kraig Sitton.
There are similarities between first and third in that they’re both corner infield spots. But there are also differences that he’s gone over with infield coach Chip Hale.
“They’re both very reactionary positions, but we’ve discussed how to attack ground balls because third base you need to be a little more aggressive because of the throw across the diamond,” Healy said. “First base, you can drop-step a little bit, let the hops get to you. … I just gotta make sure I get quality reps at both and I’ll be OK.”