Ramirez: 'The more I play the better I get'

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Ramirez: 'The more I play the better I get'

Before the game Manny Ramirez walked out of the clubhouse, wrapped myself and another reporter in his arms and dragged us down the tunnel. He said "Let's go!" And we did, peppering him with questions for five minutes. Here is the transcript.Thank you very much for taking the time. How do you feel?Manny Ramirez: I feel great, like I've been telling everybody this is like spring training for me. Having been playing for the whole year I was in extended spring facing each other. I feel good, the more I play the better I get.Anything particular you are working on at the plate?Manny Ramirez: The more pitches I see, that's why I am taking a lot of breaking balls and fastballs. Because the more pitches I see, the more better I get.How has your approach progressed? Manny Ramirez: Remember I have only played in eight games, I missed a year. I am just being patient to myself. How close are you to being ready?Manny Ramirez: It's going to take time, but I am getting there slowly, the only way you going to get there is going in there and facing pitchers, you know getting yourself out. Something is going to click and then you are there.Do you feel like you have gotten noticeably better from the first inning you played with these guys and today?Manny Ramirez: Like I said, I haven't played in a year so, you miss a year and its going to take a lot. You see a lot of guys in the big leagues or in here, that they played a whole year. So imagine missing a year.Is it refreshing to come back to the minor leagues? Out of the spotlight? Manny Ramirez: Well this is the time for you to work. You going to work on something, this is the time here in extended spring. This is where you just see it to get your start. Forget about what everyone is expecting, just concentrate on what you need to do. Do you feel like you've seen enough pitches at this point? Manny Ramirez: I have got to keep seeing them, I have only played eight games. Guys in the big leagues they played how many games 50 almost? And some people are still just trying to get their timing. Imagine if you've only got eight games. Are you just looking for that first extra base hit? Manny Ramirez: No, I am just looking for the feeling. I take one day off, I get rusty, you take a year off.

If the A's make the call, are you going to be ready on May 30? Manny Ramirez: I am going to go give my best. Why not? That's all you can do is go try. God gave me this talent and I still have it. On Friday you said all pitches are still giving you trouble, Are you getting used to seeing all pitches? Manny Ramirez: I'm just going out there and swinging and getting my rhythm, have fun and enjoy the game like I always do and move on.How tough was last year, just missing the game and missing your routine and all of that?Manny Ramirez: You do something for 19 years and you don't have it, you are going to miss it. But God gave it to me back. And everyday it doesn't matter if it is good or bad, I am just going to enjoy myself. Is that the main reason you decided to come back?Manny Ramirez: I love the game, and I know I can play. Like I said, people said when are you going to come back I miss you? So I decided to make a run for it.Do you feel like you have a chip on your shoulder? Manny Ramirez: Why not? God gave me the talent. I am just going to go and enjoy it. And trust myself. This is a time for me to work. This is a time if I want to hit with two strikes, if I want to swing 3-0, this is the time to do it. Because once you come up everything changes. Why not? You are going to practice something practice it here when it doesn't count. How do you feel you can help the A's? Manny Ramirez: I'm just going to do my job.Do you enjoy working with minor league guys? Being a teacher? Manny Ramirez: I'm not a teacher. Most of them have done time in the big leagues. They know what to do. We just go and have fun.

Faltering defense continues to be A's unwanted storyline

Faltering defense continues to be A's unwanted storyline

NEW YORK — A weekend that began with promise instead wound up feeling like another lost opportunity for the A’s.

Their defense once again paved the way to their undoing Sunday, and there were plenty of players willing to accept responsibility for a 9-5 loss to the Yankees in the rubber match of a three-game series in the Bronx.

When right fielder Matt Joyce had a catchable fly ball pop out of his glove for a third-inning error that loaded the bases, it seemed inevitable the mistake would come back to haunt the A’s.

On cue, one-time Oakland draft pick Aaron Judge drilled an opposite-field grand slam off Andrew Triggs to a turn a 2-1 A’s lead into a 5-2 deficit. Joyce said he couldn’t stomach to watch the replay of his missed catch afterward.

“It just hit my glove and I dropped it,” Joyce said. “Obviously that’s pretty tough to swallow for me in that situation. For me, I think that’s an easy play. It’s a little embarrassing. It’s obviously really frustrating, especially with what it led to.”

The A’s (22-27) chalked up two more errors, giving them a staggering 49 in 49 games played. When play began Sunday, they had at least 10 more errors than every other big league club. It’s no surprise, therefore, that they also lead the majors with 35 unearned runs, after five of the nine runs they surrendered Sunday were unearned.

That kind of bumbling play in the field is making it difficult for the A’s to maintain leads when they claim one, and tough to mount comebacks when they fall behind. In a factoid that helps explain why the A’s likely find themselves looking at another summer of selling off veterans, they have won just one of the eight road series they’ve played in 2017. Their 7-17 record away from Oakland is second worst in the American League.

The A’s took Friday’s series opener 4-1 but dropped the final two to the AL East leaders.

“I’ve said often, there’s a psychology to it too,” manager Bob Melvin said. “You feel like you have a chance to battle and come back and score some runs, and when your defense is poor, sometimes mentally it’s tough to overcome or get past it. We just have to keep working on it.”

Leading 5-2, New York added to its lead in the fourth with help from a Josh Phegley throwing error on Aaron Hicks’ stolen base. Hicks wound up on third and came home on Chris Carter’s sacrifice fly. The A’s pulled to within 7-5 on Khris Davis’ 15th homer which in the eighth, a two-run shot. But the Yankees answered right back with two more off reliever John Axford, who hurt his cause with two walks.

There were other mishaps that didn’t cost the A’s runs, like Davis making a poor throw to third that allowed a Yankee runner to advance an extra base, and third baseman Ryon Healy losing a foul pop up in the sun.

Regardless of the defensive issues, A’s starter Andrew Triggs wasn’t looking to hand off blame. Just one of the six runs he allowed was earned over his six innings. But Triggs still had a chance to preserve a 2-1 lead in the third if he could have retired Judge with two outs and the bases loaded. Instead he left a 2-1 sinker over the plate and Judge mashed it over the right field wall.

“In my mind it was either sinker away or sinker in, and I thought away was better,” Triggs said. “But you gotta execute the pitch and I didn’t.”

It was the first career grand slam for Judge, who was drafted in the 31st round out of high school by Oakland in 2010 but opted to attend Fresno State. The Yankees took him in the first round in 2013, and in clubbing his 16th homer Sunday (tying him with Mike Trout for the league lead), Judge continued building his strong early case for the Rookie of the Year award.

A's fall short of series win vs Yankees after Judge's grand slam

A's fall short of series win vs Yankees after Judge's grand slam

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge hit his first career grand slam and the New York Yankees took full advantage of Oakland's shoddy defense Sunday in a 9-5 victory over the Athletics.

Michael Pineda (6-2) tossed six innings of three-hit ball to win his third straight start. Aaron Hicks and Chris Carter each had an early sacrifice fly as the AL East leaders scored five unearned runs and took two of three in a well-pitched series.

Judge connected with two outs in the third for his 16th home run, tying Mike Trout of the Angels for the big league lead. The drive landed in the right-field seats, not far in front of The Judge's Chambers cheering section installed by the Yankees for the 6-foot-7 rookie at the start of this 4-2 homestand.

Khris Davis hit his 15th home run for the A's, who committed two more costly errors to raise their season total to 49. They began the day with 10 more than any other team in the majors.

The fielding failures put starter Andrew Triggs (5-4) in tough situations. He went six innings and gave up one earned run - but even that could have been prevented if not for a poor throw by the weak-armed Davis in left.

Gary Sanchez added an RBI double in the seventh that squirmed out of the glove of a diving Davis. Brett Gardner drove in two insurance runs with a pop-fly double in the eighth.

Adam Warren retired all four batters he faced for his first save since July 28, 2015.

The Yankees trailed 2-1 when Ronald Torreyes reached on a soft infield single leading off the third, and Sanchez singled with one out. Matt Joyce then dropped Matt Holliday's fly ball in the right-field corner for an error that loaded the bases.

After Starlin Castro struck out, Judge lined a fastball the other way to put New York ahead. Triggs had given up just three home runs in his first nine starts this year.

Hicks stole second in the fourth and advanced to third on a throwing error by catcher Josh Phegley. That set up Carter's sacrifice fly, which made it 6-2.

And while Triggs' defense was betraying him, New York's fielders gave Pineda a big boost when he needed it.

With nobody out in the second, Ryon Healy was thrown out by Gardner trying to stretch a two-run single to left field. Torreyes followed with a diving play at third base.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Athletics: 1B Yonder Alonso was back in the lineup after missing three games with a sore right wrist. ... CF Rajai Davis was rested in favor of Mark Canha, who batted leadoff for the first time in his major league career. ... One-time closer Sean Doolittle, on the DL since April 30 with a strained left shoulder, threw 20 pitches Saturday and felt good, according to manager Bob Melvin. "So we'll figure out the next step here in the next day or so," Melvin said. ... Oakland plans to put RHP Kendall Graveman (shoulder) on the 10-day disabled list Monday and recall RHP Daniel Mengden from Triple-A Nashville to make his first big league start of the season in Cleveland.

Yankees: Slumping 3B Chase Headley was given a second consecutive day off to work on his swing. He'll return to the lineup Monday, manager Joe Girardi said. ... All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman (shoulder) was scheduled to throw for the second straight day before a day off in his program Monday.

UP NEXT

Athletics: The 24-year-old Mengden began the season on the disabled list following surgery on his right foot. He was activated May 20 and optioned to Triple-A Nashville. Including his rehab assignment, Mengden is 2-1 with a 2.21 ERA in four Triple-A starts this year. He reached the majors for the first time last season and went 2-9 with a 6.50 ERA in 14 starts for Oakland. RHP Carlos Carrasco (4-2, 2.93) pitches for the AL champion Indians.

Yankees: Begin a seven-game road trip Monday afternoon in Baltimore, with rookie LHP Jordan Montgomery (2-3, 4.30 ERA) on the mound against Orioles RHP Dylan Bundy (5-3, 2.92).