A's spring training Day 28: Hahn stating his case for rotation spot

A's spring training Day 28: Hahn stating his case for rotation spot

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — He entered camp as one of the A’s players with the most to prove, and so far Jesse Hahn is delivering.

The right-hander fired four scoreless innings Monday, one of the lone bright spots in Oakland’s 3-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds that snapped the A’s six-game winning streak.

Hahn has a 3.12 ERA in three appearances (two starts), but that doesn’t include a scoreless three innings against Team Italy, which doesn’t count toward his official Cactus League stats. Include that outing, and Hahn has surrendered just three runs in 11 2/3 innings, with 11 strikeouts and two walks.

“That’s the way we expect Jesse to pitch,” manager Bob Melvin said of Monday’s outing. “Even if he has to back off the throttle on fastball velocity, the sink is what made him successful two years ago, so it was good to see. The ball was down in the zone, he was getting a lot of balls beat into the ground. And when we’ve seen him in the past pitch well, that’s what he’s done.”

Though Melvin wouldn’t address it directly, Hahn is pitching his way into strong consideration for one of the two available spots that exist in the A’s rotation in light of Sonny Gray’s injury. Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton line up as the top three starters, with Graveman setting up well to get the Opening Night call on April 3 against the Angels. Melvin hasn’t made an announcement yet.

Regarding Hahn’s rotation candidacy, Melvin offered only: “We’ve got a long way to go, but he came into camp with that in mind, and certainly what he did a couple years ago would suggest he’s got the ability to pitch well at the big league level.”

Hahn posted a 3.35 ERA in 16 starts for Oakland in 2015 but fell on hard times last year, failing to make the club out of spring training and seeing his ERA rise to 6.02 in nine major league starts.

NOTEWORTHY: Graveman started against the Reds and went 3 2/3 innings, his day spoiled on his last pitch, when Brandon Dixon hit an elevated fastball for a two-run homer in the fourth that gave Cincinnati a 3-0 lead.

Other than that, Graveman was pleased with his ability to mix in some breaking balls and changeups effectively. He allowed four hits and three runs, with one strikeout and one walk.

Last season, Graveman hit his stride when he began showing confidence in his sinker and throwing it often. Figure he’ll ride that strength heavily again if the sinker is dialed in, but the right-hander also sees the value in his off-speed pitches.

“Today was the first day (this spring) we flipped the lineup a time or two,” he said. “The third time facing some of these guys, you realize they’ve seen a lot of fastballs. I think you can start getting ahead of hitters with some off-speed stuff.”

LIGHTER SIDE: Somehow, Trevor Plouffe’s No. 3 jersey never made it to Goodyear, and the A’s third baseman wound up taking the field wearing No. 94. That made Plouffe look primed to rush a quarterback, but on a serious note, he made a nifty barehand pick-up and throw to first to retire Dilson Herrera in the fifth.

ODDS AND ENDS: Non-roster outfielder Chris Parmelee homered in the ninth to help the A’s avoid a shutout. They mustered just three hits in a game that wrapped in a tidy 2 hours, 15 minutes. … Reliever Sean Doolittle remains on target to make his first Cactus League appearance Tuesday against the Rockies in Mesa.

 

Healy exits early, Blackburn suffers first loss with A's

Healy exits early, Blackburn suffers first loss with A's

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — Michael Conforto hit a pair of two-run homers and Jerry Blevins rescued the Mets' bullpen with a five-out save as New York held off the Oakland Athletics 7-5 on Friday night for its third straight victory.

T.J. Rivera put the Mets ahead in the sixth inning with a two-run single that turned into a Little League home run. Rivera came all the way around to score on the play after third baseman Matt Chapman, trying to get Rivera at second, threw the ball away into right field for a costly error that made it 5-3.

Moments earlier, New York loaded the bases when Lucas Duda's bad-hop infield single struck first baseman Ryon Healy near the temple. Healy left the game and walked off under his own power with a swollen bruise next to his left eye.

Conforto's second homer made it 7-3 in the seventh. Oakland rallied for two in the eighth, but Blevins replaced closer Addison Reed with the bases loaded and got five straight outs against his former team for his fifth major league save and first this season.

Normally a lefty specialist, Blevins recorded five outs in a game for the first time since 2014 with Washington. He retired All-Star slugger Yonder Alonso on a foul popup and struck out Khris Davis to escape the eighth-inning jam.

"We just tried to find some matchups that worked," Mets manager Terry Collins said.

Yoenis Cespedes had three hits after raising eyebrows when he told the San Francisco Chronicle before the game that he wants to play the final season of his career in Oakland, his first big league team.

Cespedes, who signed a $110 million, four-year contract in the offseason to remain with the Mets, also said A's manager Bob Melvin is his favorite skipper and he doesn't think there's a better one.

"Bob's a great manager. I don't blame him," Collins said after the game. "This is the first I've heard of it."

After the game, Cespedes clarified his comments while speaking with reporters through a translator and said he meant no disrespect toward Collins or the Mets.

Yoenis Cespedes: 'I’m going to play the last year of my career with Oakland'

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AP

Yoenis Cespedes: 'I’m going to play the last year of my career with Oakland'

After signing a four-year, $36 million deal with the A's before the 2012 season, Yoenis Cespedes' time in Oakland came to an end halfway through his third season.

The current Mets star certainly hasn't forgetten his time in Oakland, sharing his desire to end his career back where he started it to the San Francisco Chronicle

“I wish that happens,” Cespedes said on Friday with the A's taking on his Mets in New York. “I told (Jerry) Blevins, ‘I don’t know how many years I’m going to play, but I’m going to play the last year of my career with Oakland.’ I don’t know if that’s possible or not, but that’s my goal.”

Cespedes, who has also played in Boston and Detroit, loved his time in Oakland. 

“I still love the A’s, they were the first team to give me an opportunity to play in the big leagues," Cespedes said. “I love Oakland all the time.”

Another key reason for Cespedes' hope to return to the A's one day is how much he enjoyed playing for manager Bob Melvin. 

“I tell my guys here all the time that he’s the best manager for me so far,” Cespedes said. “I don’t think there’s a better manager than Melvin.”

Cespedes hit .262 with 66 home runs in his time with the A's. Over his six-year career, the slugging outfielder owns a career .272 batting average with 146 homers.