Ross excited for new opportunity in Oakland

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Ross excited for new opportunity in Oakland

OAKLAND -- The A's have added yet another live arm. All they had to do was make a phone call.

Tyson Ross has returned to Oakland for the fifth time this season, but this time he will pitch out of the bullpen. The East Bay native was last recalled to pitch in Bartolo Colon's place on August 23. He went six innings allowing five runs and was immediately sent back to Triple-A with a new role. "Maybe his best chance is in the bullpen," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "The stuff does stand out, and there's a chance coming out of the bullpen for shorter stints that the velocity may even pick up." Many have wondered if Ross would be better served as a relief pitcher. Now we get to find out for sure. The statistics certainly indicate pitching out of the bullpen will help the right-handed pitcher. First time through the lineup batters have a .247 average against him, second time though it jumps to .307, and the third time through it escalates to .397. "It's going to be a more intense focus as far as seeing one time through the lineup or one inning at a time," Ross said. "I think it's a little bit easier to lock it in on just those three or four hitters, not having to worry about mixing it up the second time through." Ross is ready to embrace the role especially because it means he gets to play for his hometown team in a pennant chase. "It's awesome," Ross said. "I've been an Oakland A's fan my whole life. I remember back in high school when those were the good days, it's exciting to be in the clubhouse, be down on the field, and help contribute."Ross says the team told him they were happy with what he's been doing on the mound. They let him know they wanted to put him in the bullpen for the season to relieve pressure on the guys that have been here all year. "It kind of sucked getting sent down but it was nice to know they were happy with the results," Ross said. "Whatever little bit I can do to help out and contribute will be a good thing."In his Major League career Ross has been a mediocre starting pitcher. In 13 starts for the A's this season he is 2-9 with a 6.45 ERA. As a reliever the team might be able to get the most use out of his talented skill set. He will be used in long relief for now."When he's feeling good he can throw 96 to 97-mph with sink," Melvin said. "At this point in time we are looking at more length but maybe down the road he is a guy that can pitch deeper in games." The experiment hasn't exactly gone as planned yet. He has allowed four runs -- three earned in two innings in Sacramento since being converted to a reliever. Granted, it is a work in progress. "I've done it a little in the past and had some success," Ross said. "I just have to learn from the other guys as far as getting my routine down and learning where my role fits in."

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.