Athletics

Liam Hendriks named A's Roberto Clemente Award nominee

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USATSI

Liam Hendriks named A's Roberto Clemente Award nominee

OAKLAND, Calif.Major League Baseball today announced that Liam Hendriks was named the Oakland Athletics 2017 nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award, the most prominent individual player award bestowed by MLB.

The Roberto Clemente Award is the annual recognition of a player from each MLB Club who best represents the game of Baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.

Each Club nominates one current player to be considered for the Roberto Clemente Award in tribute to Clemente’s achievements and character. Wednesday, Sept. 6th marks the sixteenth annual Roberto Clemente Day, which was established by Major League Baseball to honor Clemente’s legacy and to officially acknowledge local Club nominees of the Roberto Clemente Award. As part of the league-wide celebration, the Roberto Clemente Day logo will appear on the bases and official dugout lineup cards and a special tribute video will be played in ballparks.

Liam is one of the 30 Club nominees for the annual award. He and his wife, Kristi, are working with Big League Impact and Striking Out Poverty with the mission of ending poverty in the Dominican Republic. The sales of a t-shirt Liam helped design and an online campaign, which currently results in a donation of more than $500 from supporters each time Liam records a strikeout, are driving the effort. Liam also pledges $100 per strikeout and $200 per walk.

Liam is involved in several other charitable initiatives, including:

  •        The A’s Youth Sports Nation “Play Ball” Tour which combines music, sports, and community to celebrate the game of baseball in Oakland schools.
  •        Habitat for Humanity where he helped build a playhouse at the Coliseum.
  •        A’s Root Beer Float Day, raising funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
  •        The A’s Bowling Bash, which raises more than $100,000 annually for the A’s Community Fund.
  •        Thanksgiving in June which serves Thanksgiving-inspired meals to those in need at the St. Vincent de Paul dining room in Oakland.
  •        Players for Pits, a rescue committed to saving pit bulls and pit bull mix-breed dogs, as well as Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF), Paw Town Recue, Remember Me Thursday, the Petco Foundation, Athletes for Animals, and Mission K-9 Rescue.

The Roberto Clemente Award winner will be selected among the group of nominees via a blue ribbon panel that includes individuals connected to the game, including Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr., representatives from MLB-affiliated networks (MLB Network, FOX Sports, ESPN and TBS) and MLB Advanced Media, as well as Vera Clemente, the late Roberto’s wife. Beginning the day after the Regular Season ends, fans can vote for the overall winner of the Roberto Clemente Award via a dedicated website. The site will feature bios of each of the nominees and will allow fans to easily vote by clicking on the respective nominee’s name.  The winner of the fan voting, which will run from Monday, October 2nd through Friday, October 6th, will count as one vote among those cast by the blue ribbon panel. Additional information about fan voting will be shared via MLB.com and MLB social media channels.

The concept of honoring Major League players for their philanthropic work was created in 1971 as the “Commissioner’s Award.” The recognition was renamed to the “Roberto Clemente Award” in 1973 in honor of the Hall of Famer and 15-time All-Star who died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Major League Baseball has commemorated Roberto Clemente Day each September since 2002.

A's media services

Could Franklin Barreto get a look in center field for A's?

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USATI

Could Franklin Barreto get a look in center field for A's?

Don’t count out top prospect Franklin Barreto as a possibility for the A’s in center field.

It’s long been speculated that the middle infielder might eventually get a look in center, and the idea has at least been discussed in team circles. It’s tied partially to whether the A’s exercise their $6 million club option on Jed Lowrie and bring him back as their regular second baseman in 2018.

Regardless, the battle to be Oakland’s everyday center fielder will be one of the A’s most intriguing storylines next spring. Grady Fuson, a special assistant to general manager David Forst who spends much of the season evaluating the team’s farm system, discussed several of the team’s center field options in the latest A’s Insider Podcast.

So much revolves around the health of 22-year-old Dustin Fowler, one of three prospects the A’s received from the Yankees for Sonny Gray. He’ll spend the winter continuing to rehab from a devastating knee injury suffered in his very first major league game in June while still with New York.

The A’s are hopeful he’ll be ready for spring training and believe he can be a solution in center.

“Fowler certainly is the guy we made this trade for, and I think everybody, top to bottom, in the system is counting on him taking that spot,” Fuson said. “But we all know he’s been hurt. How he comes back, who knows? Boog (Powell’s) been doing a very good job for us. And there’s other options.”

The 21-year-old Barreto, who has split time between second and short this season at Triple-A and with the big club, played some center in the Venezuelan Winter League in 2015. He’s always talked with enthusiasm about the idea.

The A’s experimented with another highly touted young infielder, Yairo Munoz, in center field in the minors this season.

“(We’ve) had discussions about taking Munoz out there, which we’ve done,” Fuson said. “We’ve had discussions about maybe Franklin Barreto, depending on what happens at second here at end of the year, over the winter, and early in camp.”

Lowrie has enjoyed a very strong season with Oakland, and A’s executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane has said the team is seriously considering picking up his option. Having Barreto be an option in center could be a way to keep him in the majors in 2018 even if Lowrie returns at second base.

Fuson stressed that the idea of Barreto in center hasn’t advanced past the early-discussion phase. No decisions have been made.

What’s interesting is that, in a short time, the A’s have gone from scarce few center field options to suddenly having several. Powell and Fowler may enter the spring as front runners, but Munoz, Jaycob Brugman, Chad Pinder, Jake Smolinski and, perhaps, Barreto may all have a shot too.

The A’s also used their first-round pick in June on high school center fielder Austin Beck, who represents another option down the road.

Bob Melvin provides update on Bruce Maxwell after 'pretty good shot' to face

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USATSI

Bob Melvin provides update on Bruce Maxwell after 'pretty good shot' to face

A's catcher Bruce Maxwell has a history with foul tips and concussion concerns, so there was cause for concern after he took a direct shot during Wednesday's game against the Tigers.

With one out in the ninth inning, Tigers shortstop fouled a ball square into Maxwell's facemask. The A's catcher immediately fell backwards. As manager Bob Melvin and the team trainer checked on him, he appeared dazed and rubbed his eyes. In an attempt to try to stay in the game, reliever Liam Hendriks tossed two warmup pitches. Maxwell missed the first one, but even after he caught the second one, it was clear he wasn't right and was removed from the game.

Afterwards, Melvin was asked about Maxwell's status.

"He went through all the protocol. It doesn't look like a concussion at this point. We'll probably know more in the next couple of days," Melvin told reporters in Detroit. "Took a pretty good shot. More sore on his face because of where the impact was, which was right in the middle of his face."

Josh Phegley replaced Maxwell for the final two outs of the game. Hendriks managed to close out the 3-2 win for the A's.