A's pick up Balfour's option, decline Drew's

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A's pick up Balfour's option, decline Drew's

The As exercised the contract option on right-handed pitcher Grant Balfour for the 2013 season, the club announced Thursday. The option year is believed to be worth 4.5 million.

The As declined to exercise the 10 million option on shortstop Stephen Drew.

Balfour originally signed a two-year deal with a club option for 2013 on January 18, 2011.
Drew was in the second year of a two-year contract with a mutual option for 2013.Balfour had two stints as the As closer in 2012 and saved a team-leading 24 games in ateam-high 75 appearances while posting a 2.53 ERA.
RELATED: Grant Balfour 2012 game logs
He was charged with two blown saves, all during his first stint as closer, and his save percentage of 92.3 ranked fourth in the American League and tied for fourth in Oakland history. Balfour also ranked second among AL relievers in opponents batting (.160), third in slugging (.253), fourth in on-base percentage (.242), fifth in games, tied for fifth in innings (74.2) and 10th in saves.
The 34-year-old right-hander finished the season by converting each of his final 18 save opportunities. A native of Australia, Balfour has the most career saves (34) and strikeouts (442) by an Australian-born pitcher.RELATED: A's Inge, Reddick Gold Glove finalists
Drew was acquired from Arizona August 20 for minor league infielder Sean Jamieson and a player to be named later or cash considerations.
RELATED: Stephen Drew 2012 game logs
He batted .250 with five home runs and 16 RBI in 39 games with the As after hitting .193 with two home runs and 12 RBI in 40 games with the Diamondbacks. The 29-year-old combined for a career-low .223 batting average in 79 games overall after missing the first 73 games of the season recovering from a broken ankle.Oakland A's media services contributed to this report

A's 17-year-old prospect 'Lazarito' makes Cactus League debut

A's 17-year-old prospect 'Lazarito' makes Cactus League debut

Lazaro Armenteros, the A’s 17-year-old stud outfield prospect better known as “Lazarito,” is believed to have become the youngest player in franchise history to appear in a Cactus League game.

Armenteros entered at the DH spot in the eighth against the Dodgers and went 0-for-2, flying out to right-center and popping up to shallow center. With the A’s short on position players, Armenteros was brought over from minor league camp and got a little exposure to the big league environment.

“He’s quite athletic, and I know they love him over there” at minor league camp, A's manager Bob Melvin recently said.

Armenteros also got a chance to mingle with Dodger outfielder (and fellow Cuban) Yasiel Puig before the game.

“Over there (in Cuba) you kind of play the game because you like it and you enjoy it,” Armenteros recently said through interpreter Juan Dorado. “Here, it’s more like a job. There’s more preparation.”

Armenteros will stay in Arizona through extended spring training and then head to play in the Dominican Summer League.

A's spring training Day 40: Manaea downplays struggles after walking five

A's spring training Day 40: Manaea downplays struggles after walking five

MESA, Ariz. — Something flipped a switch inside Sean Manaea in the third inning Saturday, and the A’s left-hander pitched with the aggressiveness he’s shown most of spring training.

It was a different story before that, as Manaea issued five walks, two of them forcing in runs, against the Cincinnati Reds. His final Cactus League outing ended after just three innings, his pitch count at more than 70, and he was charged with five earned runs.

“I was trying to nibble at the corners too much,” Manaea said. “The third inning I finally just said, ‘Throw it right down the middle and let them hit it.’”

The plan was to get Manaea close to 90 pitches, so he went to the bullpen and threw 10 more after he was pulled from the game. He entered the day with a 2.81 ERA in his first five outings, walking just one in each of those games.

He downplayed his struggles Saturday in Oakland’s 11-6 split-squad defeat at Hohokam Stadium, and manager Bob Melvin wasn’t expressing major concern either.

“He was just out of sync,” Melvin said. “Typically you don’t see him walk guys like that, let alone multiple guys in a row. It was just a tough day for him. We wanted to try to get him close to 90 pitches. But when you’re throwing that many pitches in three innings, I just couldn’t risk sending him back out there.”

Manaea was stressing the positives of his camp afterward. As he preps for one final tune-up start at AT&T Park against the Giants in the Bay Bridge Series, he particularly likes the way his slider has rounded into form.

“Just being able to have that confidence to throw it for a strike and get weak ground balls and swings and misses, it’s huge,” he said.

CAMP BATTLE: The A’s lost their other split-squad matchup by an identical 11-6 score to the Dodgers in Glendale. Jesse Hahn took the hill and struggled for the second consecutive outing, allowing two homers — including a grand slam by Andrew Toles — and surrendering seven runs (five earned) over 3 1/3 innings. Competing for one of two open rotation spots, Hahn hasn’t shown his best in the Cactus League stretch run. He gave up seven runs against Colorado in his previous start.

ODDS AND ENDS: Third baseman Trevor Plouffe had two more hits against the Reds to raise his average to .425 but left the game after tweaking an abductor muscle in his lower body. “He felt like he’s OK. We just didn’t wanna risk that,” Melvin said. … Rajai Davis connected for his first spring home run and scored three runs. … Sean Doolittle gave up two runs in his inning of work but struck out three. He sported his new eyeglasses for the first time in a major league game. … Matt Chapman hit a three-run homer off former Athletic Rich Hill in the game at Glendale.