Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 4, Twins 1

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Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 4, Twins 1

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OAKLAND -- Brett Anderson hadn't stepped on a big league mound since June 5, 2011. He certainly didn't appear to be rusty. Anderson, 24, dominated the Minnesota Twins with seven innings of one-run ball and the A's won 4-1.On a day in which the team introduced Stephen Drew and demoted the previously-deemed "untouchable" Jemile Weeks, Anderson reminded everyone that his return to the mound was the real story with a spectacular performance on the mound.Starting Pitching ReportIt turns out the A's are pretty good at evaluating pitching. They were dead-on when assessing that Anderson was ready for his return. Anderson faced one over the minimum for seven innings. He allowed just four hits, didn't walk a batter, and struck out six.Anderson retired nine batters in a row at once point and induced 13 groundouts and no flyouts. This wasn't just Anderson's first start in 14 months, this was one of the best pitching performances of his career.The only run that he allowed scored when Norris couldn't handle one of Anderson's sliders. It was ruled a wild pitch.Anderson's fastball topped out at 93 mph, and he effectively worked in his slider and curveball. Two of the hits he allowed came against his change-up, the other two were against his slider.Bullpen ReportSean Doolittle pitched a perfect eighth inning. He struck out two batters.Grant Balfour entered in the ninth inning with a 4-1 lead. He notched his 12 save of the season and hasn't allowed a run in 18 of his last 19 outings. Balfour has converted all five of his save opportunities since taking over the team's closer role.In the FieldYou never know what you are going to see at the ballpark on any given day. As they say around these parts, it's hard not to be romantic about baseball. The 13,116 fans in attendance on Tuesday witnessed something special when the A's turned a triple play in the fifth inning.RELATED: A's turn 5-4-3 triple play
Anderson had retired nine batters in a row when he gave up back-to-back singles to start the fifth. With Trevor Plouffe batting, Anderson threw a 77-mph, first-pitch curveball that was hit on the ground to Josh Donaldson, who started the 5-4-3 triple play.
It was the 21st triple play in A's franchise history, the eighth in Oakland history. The A's last triple play was an unassisted triple play handled by Randy Velarde on May 29, 2000 at New York.According to our CSN A's statistician David Feldman, the last time the A's turned a triple play at the Coliseum: July 18, 1983 vs Tigers (Peters to Phillips to Almon to Gross)At the PlateSeth Smith returned from the disabled list after missing 16 games with a strained left hamstring. He drew a walk in his first plate appearance and immediately put his hammy to the test. Josh Donaldson cracked a double to the wall in left field forcing Smith to score all the way from first. Donaldson's double tied the game at one.Smith would later add two singles. He finished the night 2-for-2 with two walks -- one intentional -- and two runs scored.Norris drove Smith home for the go-ahead RBI single in the sixth inning. The A's added two more runs in the seventh inning when Crisp led off with a double down the right field line, and Josh Reddick hit a bloop single to left that barely stayed fair. Chris Carter then drove home Reddick with a double.AttendanceThe A's announced an attendance of 13,116.Dot RaceFor the first time ever the A's Dot Race featured dots that are green, white, and gold. A long-standing A's tradition at the Oakland Coliseum, the dots used to be red, white, or blue. In this brave new era of Dot Racing, gold won.Up NextThe A's will send Tommy Milone (9-9, 4.03 ERA) to the mound. It will be Milone's 24th start of the season. The rookie lefty is 0-3 with a 7.50 ERA in his last four starts. Milone pitched on extra rest in his last outing and looked much better. He made one mistake in his previous start, allowing a grand slam to Shelley Duncan. Strangely, the A's are 2-0 in games that Milone allows a grand slam. He's walked one batter or fewer in each of his last 10 starts.The Twins will counter with Liam Hendriks (0-5, 7.04 ERA). As of Monday, this spot in Minnesota's rotation was listed as "TBD." He has never won a game in the major leagues.

A's spring training update Day 6: Davis savors winter in Oakland

A's spring training update Day 6: Davis savors winter in Oakland

MESA, Ariz. — Khris Davis enjoyed quite an offseason travel itinerary, checking out Toronto, taking in the beaches of Hawaii and dining on lobster in Belize.

However, it was the time spent in his adopted hometown of Oakland that most struck a chord with the A’s left fielder. After finishing his first season with the A’s, Davis followed through on his plan to make his offseason home in Oakland, and he was glad he did.

“I got to just feel the heart of the city,” he said upon arriving at camp Sunday. “That was basically the purpose of why I was there. … I wanted to feel Oakland. I love it, honestly. I love the city.”

He trained at Dogtown Athletic, a gym in West Oakland. He took part in the A’s holiday party for kids at the Oakland Zoo, joined by A’s Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson, who grew up in the city.

“Just to feel these kids’ happiness,” Davis said. “They didn’t look at me as a baseball player. They just looked at me as a role model kind of.”

It should be music to the ears of A’s fans that the team’s most dangerous hitter has a love affair with the city he plays in. If the A’s ever entertained the idea of trying to sign Davis to a multi-year extension, and that’s purely hypothetical here, it would help that Davis feels comfortable in his surroundings.

Even when he described Oakland in edgy terms, such as when he said it “has its dark side,” he seemed to find it endearing.

In return, Davis felt the love from the fan base in 2016, hitting a career-high 42 homers with a team-best 102 RBI. That was despite the awful start he got off to, hitting .143 and mustering just one RBI over his first 12 games.

Obviously, any chances the A’s have of improving last year’s American League-worst offense rely on the 29-year-old Davis having another big year. But over-analysis is one thing he tries to avoid.

“I don’t want to get caught up in last year — the slow start and the strong finish, whatever,” he said. “However it was, I’m just ready to do this year.”

Davis decided to back out of his plan to play for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, saying his main priority was preparing for his A’s season.

“My main focus is to perform for the organization,” he said. “I feel like I want to get off on the right foot this year.”

NOTEWORTHY: Heavy showers continued to pelt Mesa on Sunday, spoiling the A’s first full-squad workout. The hitters were relegated to swinging in the cages and playing catch, while pitchers were scheduled for a day off from throwing on the mound anyway.

“If ever there was a day, at least for the pitchers, that you don’t need to (work out), it’s today,” manager Bob Melvin said. “But when you have everybody there on the first day, you wanna get out on the field and do everything. Hopefully we can incorporate everything tomorrow.”

The A’s have a whopping 70 players in camp, more than in any other spring Melvin can remember as a big league manager. He addressed the full team in a meeting Sunday morning.

His message?

“We’re gonna have to outwork, out-hustle everybody like we have in the past,” he said, “and get back to playing the game with the same tenacity that we did a couple years ago.”

FAMILIAR FACE: Longtime A’s second baseman Mark Ellis is back for the second year in a row as a spring infield instructor. The plan is for Ellis to spend a week with the team now, then another week later in camp.

“I’ll take Mark Ellis as many days as I can have him,” Melvin said.

LIGHTER SIDE: Nursing his broken right foot, starting pitcher Daniel Mengden has been making his way through the clubhouse on a knee scooter in order to keep pressure off his foot.

Apparently, it looks more fun than it really is.

“I contribute to society Friday, when I can start walking again,” Mengden quipped.

BART, transportation among issues A's tackling in ballpark search

BART, transportation among issues A's tackling in ballpark search

MESA, Ariz. — The research and fact-finding continues for the A’s as they work toward deciding where to build their new ballpark in Oakland.

Team president Dave Kaval, in Arizona to briefly soak up the spring training vibe, says the team is still gathering all the information it can on the four locations being considered — the current Coliseum site, Howard Terminal, Laney College and Brooklyn Basin, which like Howard Terminal is a waterfront site.

Place an asterisk next to “four,” because as Kaval explains, there’s multiple spots a ballpark could be built at some of the locations.

For example, “there’s a couple different ways in the Lake Merritt area to orient a ballpark,” he said Sunday. “Each one has to be studied individually, because there’s traffic and parking issues that change depending on where you put it. There’s a couple ways it can work in and around Lake Merritt. So we kind of are looking at it as two different options.”

The research will continue for the “next couple of months,” according to Kaval, meaning it doesn’t seem any decision is forthcoming soon. But he reiterated that an announcement will come during 2017.

Kaval was asked how important it was for a ballpark to be near a BART station.

“I think if you’re in a certain range of a BART station, it doesn’t matter if it’s one block or two blocks,” he said. “But if you start getting a little farther, it does change people’s willingness to actually take that public transportation to the venue.”

Howard Terminal, located just north of Jack London Square, is a 20-25 minute walk to the nearest current BART station (12th Street). There’s been speculation that a new station could be built closer to Howard Terminal if a stadium went up. Kaval also said the A’s would consider some sort of shuttle service were they to build at Howard Terminal, and they’re researching the ferry options for such a location.

Long story short, there’s still plenty of transportation and environmental issues to sort out before the A’s settle on a site to build. In the meantime, fans will be in for a treat in the upcoming season when they arrive at the Coliseum.

The A’s gutted the West Side Club and are rebuilding it as Shibe Park Tavern, named after the franchise’s former home in Philadelphia. It will include bricks and other materials from the old ballpark, obtained from the Philadelphia Historical Society.

The A’s will also launch “Champions Pavilion”, which will include anywhere from eight to 16 local food trucks that will be stationed between the Coliseum and Oracle Arena during most home games. Ticket holders will have in/out privileges, with video monitors outside showing the game.

Nights when there’s a Warriors home game could make it tougher to pull off the full operation — Warriors playoff games will be a particular challenge, Kaval said — but the A’s will work with the Coliseum’s Joint Powers Authority to smooth things out as much as possible.

According to Kaval, the A’s are spending between $600,000-$700,000 to improve the current in-house concession stands, making it possible to cook inside the stands themselves as opposed to transporting food from the kitchen.

The efforts received a thumbs-up from A’s manager Bob Melvin.

“We’re there until we’re not,” Melvin said of the Coliseum. “We’re gonna be there for a period of time, so I appreciate the fact that he’s trying to spruce it up a little bit for our fans, give them more options for food and just create a better atmosphere in our ballpark.”