A's spring training Day 32: Bigger crowds could mean no tarps at Coliseum

A's spring training Day 32: Bigger crowds could mean no tarps at Coliseum

MESA, Ariz. — Removing the tarps from the third deck of the Coliseum is an idea the A’s have at least explored, according to team president Dave Kaval.

Don’t expect them to be leaving anytime soon however. Any thoughts of taking the tarps off will be a direct result of increased fan interest and ticket sales, and thus a need for third-deck seating, Kaval said.

“As someone who at one point bought tickets in the third deck and went to games when I was at business school, it’s a very fun environment,” said Kaval, who attended Stanford. “And so we’re evaluating, based on the attendance and the interest in the club, whether or not we’re going to keep them on or remove them. Right now we’re keeping them as is. Kind of the demand dictates that, but that’s not to say that couldn’t change over time.”

The tarps first were introduced in 2006 for A’s games and have been in place ever since. They’ve been the subject of much criticism from the fan base over that time. The A’s removed them from the original third deck for the 2013 American League Division Series against Detroit, though seats on Mount Davis remained covered.

BALLPARK UPDATE: Kaval said the research and behind-the-scenes work continues as the A’s weigh where to build a new ballpark in Oakland. They still are considering four sites — the current Coliseum; Howard Terminal; and two near Lake Merritt — one close to Laney College and another in the Brooklyn Basin area.

Kaval has promised an announcement for a location in the 2017 calendar year, but he wasn’t giving any more specific timetable Friday.

“We’ve been spending a lot of time obviously on the transportation and transit plans for the different locations, as well as really just soliciting community input and seeing what people in the different neighborhoods, what they think about a ballpark in that area,” Kaval said.

PROSPECT WATCH: Franklin Barreto, Matt Olson and Chad Pinder were optioned to Triple-A after Friday’s 3-2 loss to Arizona. The A’s consider all three potential future pieces, with Barreto — a middle infielder ranked as Oakland’s top prospect — in particular turning heads with a dazzling performance this spring. He hit .481 (13-for-27) in 16 games.

Olson hit .167 with two homers and five RBI. He’ll continue to see time at first base and right field. Manager Bob Melvin said Pinder will be groomed as a super-utility guy who will be tried in the outfield as well as playing all over the infield. He hit .158 with two homers and five RBI.

CAMP BATTLE: : Melvin said he envisions the battle for two open rotation spots to possibly last all the way through the Bay Bridge Series. One of the candidates, Raul Alcantara, started against the Diamondbacks and gave up two runs in 3 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out one.

“He managed it, but I don’t know that that was his best stuff today,” Melvin said.

NOTEWORTHY: Most of the A’s top relievers threw Friday — Ryan Madson, Santiago Casilla, Sean Doolittle and John Axford among them. In his second appearance, Casilla threw a scoreless inning with a strikeout and also started a double play. Melvin liked seeing Doolittle throw his slider multiple times in his scoreless inning, and the manager liked the action on the pitch. Melvin also has been impressed with young catcher Sean Murphy, who was being the plate calling pitches for Doolittle.

“I was impressed that he wasn’t afraid to make him throw his other pitches,” Melvin said of Murphy.

QUOTABLE: A’s executive VP of baseball operations Billy Beane had a little fun with Kaval’s willingness to incorporate the ideas he’s getting from fans during his public office hours.

Beane: “I’m waiting for the fan that comes in and goes, ‘Sign Mike Trout’. And Dave goes, ‘Done!’”

ODDS AND ENDS: Ryon Healy homered for the second day in a row, giving him a team-leading four this spring. His 13 RBI are tied for second in the majors. … Madson struck out three in his inning of work. Axford allowed one run in 1 1/3 innings and has issued five walks in 5 1/3 innings total.

A's option RHP Hahn to Triple-A; LHP Detwiler opts out of deal

A's option RHP Hahn to Triple-A; LHP Detwiler opts out of deal

MESA, Ariz. —The A's optioned starter Jesse Hahn to Triple-Nashville on Sunday and announced that lefty Ross Detwiler has opted out of his minor league contract to become a free agent.

Hahn’s demotion brings Oakland's rotation into focus, with Andrew Triggs and Raul Alcantara lined up as the fourth and fifth starters, respectively, behind Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton. Sonny Gray will begin the season on the disabled list.

Hahn got off to a strong start this spring but struggled mightily in his last two starts, giving up 12 earned runs combined. It’s the second spring in a row that he’s entered camp looking to lock down a rotation spot before getting sent down, but the right-hander believes he’s better equipped to handle this setback.

“It’s disappointing for sure, because I set a goal this spring and that was to make the rotation,” Hahn said. “I didn’t do that, but I can’t get down on myself. I have to stay positive. I think I did a lot of positive things this spring. … I’m not going to let this one get me down. I’ve been through that situation last year. I learned from it. So I’m not going to make the same mistakes that I did last year.”

Gray’s injury, a strained lat muscle that’s expected to sideline him most of April, left two spots at the back of the rotation. The A’s are turning to right-handers Triggs and Alcantara, who have combined for just 11 big league starts between them.

Certainly with Triggs, this scenario had been developing for a while. Front office officials had talked him up since the beginning of the offseason as a rotation possibility. He's posted a 5.06 ERA in five exhibitions (three starts), but he looked very sharp in his last outing Wednesday against the White Sox.

Alcantara is out of minor league options, and the A’s wanted to keep him whether it was in a starting or relief role. His ERA is 4.50 over six appearances (three starts), but like Triggs, his most recent start was his most effective.

“Both of these guys will get an opportunity they haven’t had before,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.

Sunday’s developments could have a trickle-down effect with other parts of the roster. The A’s are in a better position now to keep five outfielders if they want and go with the standard seven relievers. Going with eight relievers and four outfielders seemed more likely when Alcantara was still a bullpen consideration just to keep him from hitting the waiver wire.

Non-roster invitees Alejandro De Aza and Jaff Decker, who is slated to return Monday from an oblique injury, are the primary candidates to be the fifth outfielder, although Chris Parmelee, another non-roster player, has quietly had a good spring.

The seventh bullpen spot could go to Daniel Coulombe if the A’s deem it important to have a second lefty, or they could go with impressive right-handed prospect Frankie Montas, who would be more of a multi-inning reliever asked to get both lefties and righties out. Of course, they could still opt for an eight-man ‘pen if they want a second lefty and think it’s necessary to keep Montas as a length guy.

Detwiler was on the fringe of the rotation competition and also could have been a bullpen consideration. But he posted an 11.88 ERA over eight appearances. The lefty is now free to sign with any club, though Melvin didn’t rule out the chance of Detwiler returning at some point.

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Khris Davis, out recently with right quad soreness, will play in a minor league game Sunday along with Decker. If Davis comes out of it well, Melvin said he will DH on Monday.

In another injury update, third baseman Trevor Plouffe is doing OK after tweaking an abductor muscle in his groin. Melvin is aiming to get him in one more game before the A’s fly north Wednesday, and then Plouffe will have the Bay Bridge Series to make sure he’s ready.

 

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.