Sizemore hurts knee in A's first full-squad workout

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Sizemore hurts knee in A's first full-squad workout

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Kate Longworth is on the ground in Arizona providing complete coverage of the A's spring training. Don't miss her reports on SportsNet Central at 6 and 10:30 p.m. nightly on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

Manny Ramirez was introduced Friday, but Saturday was just another day of spring training baseball for the A's

Scene Setter: A crowd of fans lined up early this morning in front of the gates at Papago. I know they were a crop of new autograph seekers because those who have been here since Day 1 head straight to the fields, knowing that this year, the A's are carpooling to the facility in shuttle vans, so there's no stopping to sign.

As the long white shuttle vans filed in, the crowd quickly flocked to the fields to get the first glimpse of Manny Ramirez in the Green and Gold. Ramirez was accompanied by the entire Athletics roster and non-roster invitees as the A's took the field as a full squad for the very first time in the 2012 season.

Early Injury: Scott Sizemore appeared to hurt his left knee in drills this morning. Josh Donaldson took off his catcher's gear and stepped in. Interestingly enough, I spotted Donaldson fielding grounders at third base earlier this week and spoke with Melvin about him. He said the more he sees a guy can do, the better chance he has of making the team.

Who Was Here: While fans were dialed in on the MANia, the players might have been impressed to know how much the owner of their team is invested in them. Lew Wolff joined the A's this morning at Phoenix Munipal and in the midst of Bob Melvin's introduction of his new staff and the new players, Wolff addressed the team. Melvin declined comment on the specifics of Wolff's speech. Melvin did say owners of other clubs he's been with have addressed the team at Spring Training before, but nevertheless an interesting gesture by Wolff to be with the A's this morning in Arizona.
What Was Said: Bob Melvin shared with the team his philosophies, something us members of the media have been hearing all week. Punctuality is big for the Skip; he has his team arriving together in vans this year so that no one can pull up late in their own ride and delay the start of a drill. Certainly accountability and team unity are stressed through this practice as well.

And Melvin is definitely a believer in the saying, "The early bird catches the worm." Melvin gets to the facility every morning at 5:30 a.m., and is blown away that his assistant coach Chip Hale is already there. In mentioning characteristics he likes in his players, he's already pointed out several times how early Kurt Suzuki arrives, how late Manny Ramirez stays in the cages and how fast Coco Crisp runs in every drill.

That latter one also an important message Melvin has sent to his team, saying his players will "bust it down the line after every ball." And for the naysayers at home, he did have a talk with Manny about it and the veteran slugger said the Skip won't have to worry about that with him.
And the Oscar Goes To: Bob Melvin hopes it's MoneyBall that will be a winner at Sunday's Academy Awards. After attending the premiere, and mingling a bit with the Hollywood cast, Mevlin says this team certainly has an invested interest in the awards ceremony and that everyone here will be rooting on MoneyBall and Brad Pitt's portrayal of their faithful leader Billy Beane. Melvin said he thinks the movie has some life lessons about being the underdog and thought it scored big with all audiences, not just baseball fans.

Royals ace Yordano Ventura dies in car crash at 25 years old

Royals ace Yordano Ventura dies in car crash at 25 years old

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura, whose electric arm and confident demeanor helped lead his long-suffering team to the 2015 World Series title, died in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic early Sunday. He was 25.

With the fitting nickname of "Ace," Ventura burst onto the baseball scene with a 100 mph fastball and an explosive attitude to match. He was a fierce competitor always willing to challenge hitters inside, then deal with the ramifications when they decided to charge the mound.

Not surprisingly, he quickly became a fan favorite as Kansas City embraced baseball once again.

"Our prayers right now are with Yordano's family as we mourn this young man's passing," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said in a statement. "He was so young and so talented, full of youthful exuberance and always brought a smile to everyone he interacted with. We will get through this as an organization, but right now is a time to mourn and celebrate the life of Yordano."

Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo said Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles northwest of Santo Domingo. Mateo did not say whether Ventura was driving.

Also Sunday, former major league infielder Andy Marte died in a separate car accident in the Dominican Republic. Metropolitan traffic authorities said he died about 95 miles north of the capital.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Andy Marte and Yordano Ventura," players union executive Tony Clark said. "It's never easy to lose a member of our fraternity, and there are no words to describe the feeling of losing two young men in the prime of their lives. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families, friends, teammates and fans throughout the United States and Latin America."

Ventura is the second young pitching star to die in past four months. Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was among three men killed in a boating accident in late September, when the 24-year-old pitcher's boat crashed into a jetty off Miami Beach in the early morning hours.

Ventura went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 2014, his first full season in the big leagues, and helped the long-downtrodden Royals reach the World Series for the first time since 1985. He proceeded to dominate San Francisco in both of his starts, though the Royals would ultimately lose in seven games.

In an eerie coincidence, Ventura paid tribute to his friend and countryman, Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras, with a handwritten message on his cap during Game 6. Taveras also was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic, and his funeral occurred just hours before Ventura stepped on the mound.

The following year, now firmly entrenched in the rotation, Ventura helped lead Kansas City back to the World Series, pitching well in two starts against Toronto in the AL championship Series. The Royals went on to beat the New York Mets in five games to win their second championship.

Not surprisingly, the Royals moved quickly to sign their burgeoning young ace to a five-year contract through the 2019 season that included two more options that could have kept him in Kansas City.

He wound up pitching his entire career for the Royals, going 38-31 with a 3.89 ERA.

Born June 3, 1991, in Samana, Dominican Republic, Ventura represented a true rags-to-riches story. He quit school at 14 and was laboring on a construction crew to support his family when Ventura heard about a tryout, which led to a spot in the Royals' academy located on his picturesque island home.

Still, the odds were long that Ventura would ever make it to the big leagues. Very few players from the Dominican academies reached the pinnacle of the sport.

But over time, Ventura was able to harness one of the most electric fastballs that scouts had seen in years, and his headstrong and confident nature was essential in his rapid rise. He made his big league debut to great fanfare in 2013, allowing just one run again Cleveland in a sign of things to come.

He eventually became a cornerstone of a youth movement that included young stars such as first baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas, one that carried the Royals first to respectability, then to the top of the American League — rare heights the organization had not experienced in decades.

Hosmer took to Twitter upon hearing the news of Ventura's death, saying: "I love you my brother. I'm in disbelief and don't know what to say. I love you ACE."

Moustakas also expressed disbelief, tweeting: "I love you Ace. I don't know what to say other than I'm going to miss you a lot. RIP ACE."

Reports: Ex-A's catcher Suzuki agrees to deal with NL East team

Reports: Ex-A's catcher Suzuki agrees to deal with NL East team

Kurt Suzuki is headed back to the National League.

After three seasons in the American League with the Twins, the former A's backstop has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Braves.

News of the agreement was first reported by SB Nation.

Suzuki will reportedly make $1.5 million, according to Fox Sports. He has a chance to make an addition $2.5 million in incentives.

The 33-year-old Suzuki was drafted by the A's in the second round of 2004 MLB Draft. He made his debut with Oakland in 2007 and was the starting catcher until a 2012 trade to Washington. A year later, the Nationals traded Suzuki back to the A's for the final five weeks of the season.

Prior to the 2014 season, Suzuki signed with Twins. In three seasons with Minnesota, Suzuki hit .263/.316/.364 with 75 doubles, 16 home runs and 160 RBI.

Suzuki will likely serve as a back-up to catcher Tyler Flowers.