Manny set to join A's Friday

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Manny set to join A's Friday

PHOENIX -- Slugger Manny Ramirez is set to join the A's at spring training on Friday, the full-squad reporting deadline, manager Bob Melvin said in his morning conversation with the media.

Melvin said it's logical to assume Ramirez will be penciled into the lineup as the starting DH as soon as he's eligible.

"I dont know why he wouldnt," Melvin said. "I mean, he's been a dominant hitter for years, now we want to see what's still there and that's part of the evaluation process. But if everything went smoothily, and he swings the bat the way he has in the past, it would make sense."

First, Ramirez must serve a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseballs drug policy.

Because of the suspension, Melvin said it doesn't make sense to give Ramirez the majority of spring at-bats as Oakland's DH. They will be rotated among a number of players, he said.

"Really it's one more guy because it's not like he's going to come in and get every DH at-bat. To get him ready for a 50-game layoff doesn't make sense to give him all the at-bats," Melvin said. "He'll go through the regular batting practice, hit off pitchers like everybody else will, and we'll get him into games enough where we feel we can evaluate him.

"But, I don't feel like it's wise to give him every DH at-bat. You know, he's a guy that over the course of his career, is one of those guys who can jump out of his bed in December and hit. We'll have plenty of reps for him before we get to games, and then once we get to games, it's one more guy we have to add into the mix."

Notably, he didn't rule out Ramirez also making some occasional starts in left field.

Melvin said he likes the though of the veteran presence and work ethic that Ramirez will bring to the young roster, and respects the veteran's decision to return to baseball.

Asked if he was concerned Ramirez could be a distraction, Melvin said it's more an "excitement" for players, fans and media.

Ramirez will likely have a 10-game minor league assignment at some point. Melvin said he hasn't been informed of any specifics but that it would likely be with Triple A Sacramento.

Asked whether Ramirez is more attractive to the A's as a home run hitter or a guy with a high on-base percentage, Melvin said "all of the above."

"Whether or not he hits the amount of home runs -- and I think in our ballpark it would suggest they'd go down some -- but it's hitting the ball in the gaps, and driving in some runs. And you don't have to hit home runs to drive in runs.

"If we get all the way to that point, and he's DHing for us over the course of the season, he's certainly stability in the middle of the lineup, expereince-wise that we don't seem to have right now."

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.

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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?