A's set to introduce shortstop Nakajima

hiroyuki_nakajima_japan_wbc.jpg

A's set to introduce shortstop Nakajima

OAKLAND -- Just hours after free agent shortstop Stephen Drew was plucked off the market by the Boston Red Sox, the A's locked down his replacement. On Tuesday, Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima will be introduced by the A's in a press conference at 2 p.m. in Oakland. It will be broadcast live on Comcast SportsNet California.

Nakajima, 30, has reportedly signed a two-year deal worth $6.5 million with a club option for a third season. The financial terms were first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. That's $3 million less than Drew will be getting for one season from the Red Sox. 

Oakland had expressed interest in the Seibu Lions' starting shortstop earlier in the offseason and they met with his representatives at the Winter Meetings.

Listed at 5'11" and 198 pounds, Nakajima hit .311 with 13 home runs, 74 RBI, 52 walks, and a .382 on-base percentage in 136 games last season in the Japanese Pacific League. Those numbers are on par with his career stats, as he is a career .302 hitter with a .367 on-base percentage. In 2011, the Yankees won the negotiating rights for Nakajima but couldn't come to terms on a deal and he remained in Japan.

At the Winter Meetings in Nashville, A's manager Bob Melvin said of Nakajima, "He's a hitter, he looks like a hitter." One MLB talent evaluator told me he has a dependable glove, a chance to hit for average, and should be a solid player. Watching several videos of Nakajima online, it looks like he is a spray hitter with good opposite field power.

So far, infielders from the Pacific League haven't exactly dominated in Major League Baseball. Nakajima took over at shortstop for the Seibu Lions after Kaz Matsui signed with the Mets. Matsui hit .305 with 33 homers and 84 RBI in his final season in Japan. He has a .267 average with 32 home runs, 211 RBI and a .321 on-base percentage in seven Major League seasons.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka is another example of a Pacific League infielder that didn't work out.  He was a batting champion and star in Japan, but signed a three-year, $9.25 million contract with Minnesota and was released last September after hitting .215 with 14 errors in 71 games.

Like language, sometimes statistics get lost in translation. It is difficult to project how Nakajima's numbers will look in Oakland. The A's clearly like what they see in Nakajima, though. He is a relatively low risk, potentially high upside player. If all goes according to plan, Nakajima will take over at shortstop until top prospect Addison Russell is MLB-ready. Russell was the A's first round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.

Now that Oakland has a guy to pencil in at starting shortstop, the reigning American League West Champions' roster appears to be close to complete. FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi were the first to report the A's and Nakajima were nearing a deal.

Trio of A's rookies make history in win over White Sox

Trio of A's rookies make history in win over White Sox

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO -- The Oakland Athletics got a glimpse of their future on a day when the Chicago White Sox paid tribute to their past.

Matt Olson hit his first two major league home runs, Jaycob Brugman and Franklin Barreto also launched their first career shots and the A's routed the White Sox 10-2 on Saturday.

Barreto homered in his big league debut. He joined Olson and Brugman in becoming the second trio of teammates to hit their first homers in the same game, the Elias Sports Bureau said. It also happened in 1914 with the Kansas City Packers of the Federal League - the rival circuit lasted a couple of seasons, and included many big leaguers.

"They said something about it was the first time it has happened in a while. It's awesome to be able to share that moment with guys that I already built relationships with," said Olson, who played with Brugman and Barreto in the minors.

Former White Sox ace Mark Buehrle had his No. 56 jersey retired in a pregame ceremony. After the 30-minute tribute ended, the A's roughed up James Shields (1-1).

Daniel Gossett (1-2) took advantage of an early 6-0 lead for his first win in the big league. He gave up two unearned runs in six innings.

"It was a special experience for everyone. To get out of there with my first win was just the icing on the cake. It was an awesome experience to be a part of and I'm glad I was here," Gossett said.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria was ejected for the second straight game. He threw his hat to the ground and was tossed, right after third baseman Todd Frazier was ejected for showing his displeasure over a replay review that wasn't reversed.

"I thought it was quick," Frazier said. "I said some things that were borderline, I guess. But at the same time, it's just frustrating, man. You can't get the call right in New York as well, and they've got every different angle. They can zoom in as close as possible, and to think that they cannot make that call is just frustrating with the technology we have today. It's just crazy. It boggles your mind. It really does."

After a leadoff walk in the first, Olson homered to right. He added a two-run homer in the seventh. He was recalled from Triple-A Nashville on Thursday and is in fourth stint with the club.

Brugman hit a solo drive in the second. Barreto had a two-run homer in the third.

Barreto, a top prospect in the Oakland organization, was called up after shortstop Chad Pinder injured his hamstring Friday night and was placed on the 10-day disabled list.

Barreto was a late addition to the lineup at second base when Jed Lowrie couldn't play after a mild knee injury he sustained Friday night. The newcomer went 2 for 5 and scored twice.

"Of anybody, you're not surprised. We've seen him hit homers in his first spring training at-bats, so not a total shock. But I think everybody kind of looked around and said, `Wow, I can't remember that ever happening before,'" A's manager Bob Melvin.

Shields gave up six runs on seven hits in three-plus innings. He allowed three home runs in his second start since a two-month DL stint.

Buehrle's number was stenciled onto the dirt behind second base. He went 161-119 with a 3.83 ERA in 390 appearances for Chicago from 2000-11. The lefty pitched two no-hitters for the White Sox, including a perfect game, and helped them win the 2005 World Series.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
White Sox: All signs are pointing to LHP Carlos Rodon making his season debut sometime next week. Rodon, who has been out with a biceps bursitis injury, pitched Friday night for Triple-A Charlotte. Renteria was satisfied with the reports after his fourth rehab start.

"Another start last night. He went 4 1-3, 93 pitches. Actually, in talking to everybody, he threw pretty well. Had a couple miscues in the field that were probably limited his outing. He felt good, pain-free, we're very happy with that. According to the reports, the slider was working very well. He's on track to come on back," Renteria said.

RUN SUPPORT:
Gossett said the Oakland hitters made it easy for him in his third major league start.

"To see guys I've played with a little bit last year and this year, to see Barreto get his first hit and other guys get their first home runs, it's really special for them and I'm glad I was part of it," he said.

FINALLY WINNING ON THE ROAD:
With wins Friday and Saturday, the A's snapped a streak of losing nine consecutive road series.

STATS:
Despite the rough start, Shield reached 2,000th career strikeouts.

UP NEXT:
Athletics: RHP Sonny Gray (2-3) is scheduled to start Sunday. He is 0-2 with a 6.43 ERA over his last five starts.

White Sox: LHP Derek Holland (5-7) is 1-4 with a 9.55 ERA and nine home runs allowed over his last five starts.

Two former A's players designated for assignment by AL East teams

Two former A's players designated for assignment by AL East teams

Friday night was a bad night for a couple of former A's players.

After going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts against the Rangers, first baseman Chris Carter was designated for assignment by the Yankees.

New York called up first base prospect Tyler Austin.

In 57 games with the Yankees, Carter his eight homers and drove in 23 runs, but he his just .204 with 70 strikeouts.

Derek Norris, an All-Star with the A's in 2014, was designated for assignment by the Rays after they activated offseason acquisition Wilson Ramos from the 60-day DL.

Norris clubbed nine homers and drove in 24 runs, but hit .201 in 53 games with the Tampa Bay.

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