Melvin maintaining hope for Drew, Gomes


Melvin maintaining hope for Drew, Gomes

Programming note: The Final Cut: 2012 Oakland A's, the story of Oaklands incredible 2012 season, debuts tonight, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California!

OAKLAND -- A's pitchers and catchers report spring training on Feb. 11, and if that were tomorrow, manager Bob Melvin wouldn't have a problem with it.

"I'm thrilled to death about the team we have here," Melvin said after conducting a press conference as 2012 AL Manager of the Year. "But we have a propensity to make some moves to make our team better."

Indeed, the A's front office still has close to 90 days to add new toys before the team reconvenes in Arizona.

Melvin spoke specifically about three players Wednesday, updating their standing with the team.

Stephen Drew:

The A's declined Stephen Drew's 10-million option for 2014, but it's still possible he returns to man shortstop for Oakland in 2013.

Owner of a 1.35-million buyout, Drew is a free agent with the ability to test the market.

"We hope he comes back," Melvin said. "At the end of the day it comes down to what he wants to do -- whether or not he wants a long-term deal or to be closer to his home."

The A's acquired Drew from the Diamondbacks in August for minor league shortstop Sean Jamieson. Drew hit .250 with five home runs and 16 RBIs in 39 games with the A's.

Oakland has a hole to fill at shortstop after they traded away Cliff Pennington in acquiring Chris Young.

There are no free agent shortstops ranked higher than Drew, but Japan's Hiroyuki Nakajima, Alex Gonzalez and Jason Bartlett are all unemployed.

With significant outfield and pitching depth, it's also possible the A's trade for their next shortstop.

Jonny Gomes:

Jonny Gomes was not an every-day starter for the A's in 2012, but his impact was apparent in the clubhouse and on the field. His recognition with the 2012 Jim "Catfish" Hunter Award was evidence enough.

Melvin acknowledged the A's made Gomes an offer, but that the 10-year veteran elected to test the free agent market after the expiration of his one-year, 1 million deal.

"He probably has a bunch of people bidding on him right now," Melvin said.

It spurred the A's into a deal that landed them another All-Star center fielder in Chris Young.

NEWS: A's acquire Chris Young

Young joins Coco Crisp, Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick to comprise a deep and talented outfield. It seems to leave no place for Gomes, but the manager wasn't ready to concede his departure.

"You never know," Melvin said. "And I'd like to keep that hope alive because of what he meant to this team last year."

Bartolo Colon:

Bartolo Colon already inked his one-year, 3 million contract to return to the A's next season.

NEWS: Colon returning for 2013

And although he has five games remaining on his 50-game suspension and will turn 40 early next season, the decision was obvious to the A's for one reason.

"He's a strike-throwing machine," Melvin said of the veteran.

Another reason is Colon's flexibility. His contract, reportedly laden with 2 million in potential incentives, also contains language that leaves the bullpen door open.

"The focus is to bring him in as a starter," Melvin assured, "but we're keeping our options open."

Colon went 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA in 24 starts for the A's in 2012 and led the team in innings pitched at the time of his suspension.

Aside from Colon, the A's staff features only Brett Anderson with significant MLB experience. Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin and other options like Dan Straily and Travis Blackley were all rookies a year ago, so Colon's 15 years of MLB service are welcome -- in the rotation or 'pen.

Melvin was sure that Colon's PED-induced suspension would be forgottenamongA's fans.

"This is a true gentleman and a great guy," Melvin said. "He'll be embraced here again."

Crisp homers as Indians shut out Blue Jays to advance to World Series


Crisp homers as Indians shut out Blue Jays to advance to World Series


TORONTO -- A most unlikely pitching performance helped put a most unexpected team into the World Series.

Rookie Ryan Merritt coolly delivered a lead to the Andrew Miller-led bullpen and the Cleveland Indians won their first pennant since 1997, blanking Toronto 3-0 Wednesday in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series.

Cleveland, which has never hosted a World Series opener, will play Game 1 at Progressive Field on Tuesday night against either the Chicago Cubs or Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Indians will try to boost what's already been a magical year in Cleveland after LeBron James and the Cavaliers earned the city's first sports championship since 1964. The Indians' title drought dates to 1948.

The Dodgers led the Cubs 2-1 going into Game 4 of the NLCS on Wednesday night. Cleveland didn't play either team this season.

With all of 11 major league innings under his belt, Merritt took the mound and looked just like a seasoned vet. The 24-year-old lefty retired the first 10 batters and allowed only two hits before being pulled after 4 1/3 innings.

Then it was up to Cleveland's tireless relievers to hold a three-run lead.

Miller again did most of the heavy lifting, pitching 2 2/3 innings, and Cody Allen pitched the ninth for the save. Winner Bryan Shaw worked an inning before Miller came in.

Carlos Santana and Coco Crisp homered for the Indians.

Donaldson homers, Blue Jays beat Indians to stay alive in ALCS


Donaldson homers, Blue Jays beat Indians to stay alive in ALCS


TORONTO -- Josh Donaldson homered to give Toronto a long-awaited lead, and the Blue Jays finally broke through with the bats, beating the Cleveland Indians 5-1 on Tuesday to avert a sweep in the AL Championship Series.

The Indians still lead the matchup 3-1, but Donaldson and a poised Aaron Sanchez handed them their first loss of this postseason.

Edwin Encarnacion later hit a two-run single, a welcome sight for a raucous Rogers Centre crowd that had fallen silent watching its team reach the brink of elimination because of a slumbering offense.

Donaldson's solo shot to left-center field off Corey Kluber in the third put the Blue Jays ahead for the first time all series. Two innings after that, the star third baseman made an outstanding diving stop to preserve a one-run edge.

Sanchez, the American League ERA champion, allowed a run and two hits in six innings, and the bullpen finished with three perfect innings.

Cleveland will try again Wednesday to win to earn its first World Series trip since 1997, but the big concern for the Indians coming into the series - an injury-riddled rotation - still lingers.

Kluber was starting on three days' rest for the first time in his career, and in Game 5 Cleveland will send lightly used rookieRyan Merritt to the mound against Marco Estrada.

Kluber hadn't allowed a run in either of his first two starts this postseason. Donaldson, the reigning AL MVP and sporting a still freshly shaved face, opened the scoring with his first home run of these playoffs.

The wild-card Blue Jays made it 2-0 in the fourth when Ezequiel Carrera's blooper fell between three Cleveland fielders in left-center for an RBI single.

Roberto Perez hit an RBI double in the fifth off Sanchez. Carlos Santana's two-out grounder to the left side might have had a chance to score him, but Donaldson made the play.

The Indians didn't have another baserunner after that. Brett CecilJason Grilli and Roberto Osuna pitched an inning each in relief for Toronto.

Taking no chances, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons brought in Osuna, his closer, in a non-save situation to finish off Cleveland.

The Indians were trying to become the third team to sweep a Division Series and Championship Series in the same postseason. The 2007 Colorado Rockies and 2014 Kansas City Royals both did it.

Cleveland had won nine in a row, including three straight over Boston in the ALDS.

The Indians had a chance to take the lead in the third when Tyler Naquin hit a leadoff double and went to third on a sacrifice. Sanchez retired Santana on a soft grounder with the infield in, and then Jason Kipnis also grounded out.

Kluber was pulled after 89 pitches. He allowed two runs and four hits in five innings.

The Blue Jays added two more runs in the seventh after a throwing error by reliever Bryan Shaw. Encarnacion came up with the bases loaded and the crowd chanting "Eddie" - and his hard grounder skipped off the mound and into center field to make it 4-1.

Trevor Bauer's finger injury put more pressure on Kluber to come back for Game 4 and a possible Game 7 on short rest. Bauer cut his right pinkie on a drone and had to be pulled in the first inning Monday after he started bleeding.

"I had to witness everything he had to go through to try and go out there and pitch last night," pitching coach Mickey Callaway said before Tuesday's game. "Not too many people would have done that. He's been wonderful. He's obviously grown over the years because he wanted to."

Indians: The 24-year-old Merritt has pitched 11 innings as a big leaguer. His only start came Sept. 30, when the left-hander held Kansas City to a run and three hits in five innings.

Blue Jays: Estrada allowed two runs in eight innings in Game 1 against Cleveland.