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.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's first road sweep of 2017

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's first road sweep of 2017

BOX SCORE

The A’s sprung to life offensively in the late innings Sunday and polished off their first road sweep of 2017.

They scored all five of their runs over the final three innings to beat the Chicago White Sox 5-3, continuing an odd stretch of streakiness. The A’s swept the New York Yankees in four at the Coliseum, then turned around and dropped four in a row to the Houston Astros before arriving in Chicago and taking all three from the Sox. It’s their first sweep on the road since they won four in Kansas City from Sept. 12-15 of last season.

The weekend’s events provided a morale boost for a team that began the series an American League-worst 9-25 away from home. The sweep also featured numerous contributions from a pack of recently promoted young players fresh from the minors.

The A’s had no answer for left-hander Derek Holland through six-plus innings, mustering just four hits off the veteran. But trailing 2-0, they got on the board with Jed Lowrie’s pinch-hit RBI double in the seventh. The next inning, Khris Davis singled home the tying run and Yonder Alonso followed with a go-ahead single down the left-field line to put the A’s up 3-2.

They tacked on two insurance runs in the ninth on back-to-back homers from Adam Rosales and Matt Joyce.

Sonny rebounds: Sonny Gray (3-3) avoided the early trouble that plagued his last start, working seven innings and being rewarded with a victory thanks to the A’s eighth-inning rally. He struck out seven and walked just one. That was a key as Gray had issued seven free passes combined in his previous two starts. Adam Engel hit a 2-1 fastball for a homer in the third, then Jose Abreu scored on a passed ball in the fourth to give Chicago a 2-0 lead. But Gray held the Sox to just four hits over his seven innings.

Sign of things to come? Franklin Barreto got a look as the No. 2 hitter in the order Sunday, a spot that some scouts feel he’ll be well suited for as his career unfolds. He singled to the opposite field in his first at-bat, then struck out looking in his next two trips to the plate. In the eighth, his broken-bat single to left jumpstarted Oakland’s two-run go-ahead rally. Barreto is 4-for-10 in his first two games with the big club.

Joyce provides a lift off the bench: Joyce entered as a pinch runner in the seventh and connected for his 10th homer, right after Rosales had gone deep himself. Joyce became the fourth Athletic to crack double figures in homers, and the A’s improved to 31-26 when they hit at least one home run (they’re 3-16 when they don’t).

Doo does it again: Lefty reliever Sean Doolittle continued to deal since coming off the disabled list. He threw a scoreless eighth with two strikeouts and has allowed just one hit over five innings in six appearances since his return.

An unwanted milestone: The Sox scored their second run on a passed ball by Josh Phegley, which accounted for Oakland’s 50th unearned run, most in the majors. They had just 43 unearned runs all of last season.

Former A's catcher Stephen Vogt claimed by NL Central team

Former A's catcher Stephen Vogt claimed by NL Central team

A new team believes in Stephen Vogt.

The former A's catcher, who was designated for assignment on Thursday, was claimed by the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday.

The A's announced the transaction shortly before their game against the White Sox.

News of the Brewers making the waiver claim was first reported by ESPN.

The Brewers were the only team to place a waiver claim on Vogt, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

Vogt, a clubhouse leader and one of the longest tenured A's, hit just .217 with four home runs and 20 RBI in 54 games this season.