Athletics

A's spring training Day 33: Melvin considers Barreto 'big league ready'

A's spring training Day 33: Melvin considers Barreto 'big league ready'

MESA, Ariz. — A’s manager Bob Melvin typically has plenty of constructive criticism for players when delivering the news they’ve been sent down.

The task was a little tougher with infielder Franklin Barreto, who put on a show in his second big league camp but was optioned to Triple-A Nashville on Friday.

“What do you say?” Melvin said Saturday. “I’m sure he wanted to be here a little bit longer, but he needs to get everyday at-bats and starts and so forth. Like I told him, ‘I don’t know what I would tell you that would suggest I need to send you down. But just go do your thing.’”

It was goodbye for now to Oakland’s top prospect, but Melvin has a feeling he could be seeing Barreto again before long.

“Based on what I have to go on, it already looks like he’s big league ready,” the manager said. “But, like school, you want to make sure you get all the grades and pass your classes and move on to the next level.”

Barreto hit .481 in 16 Cactus League games with a homer and five RBI, and he showed excellent speed on the bases. He’ll see time at shortstop and second base with Nashville, and his development at second will be of particular interest because that’s the position that will provide his quickest path to the bigs.

Chad Pinder likely will get time at shortstop for Nashville, and Yairo Munoz will be among the other options at short should he begin the season with the Sounds.

PROSPECT WATCH: First baseman/outfielder Matt Olson was among the other recent prospects sent down, and Melvin said the A’s worked with Olson on some swing adjustments that coaches think will make him a more consistent hitter.

The A’s feel Olson has big potential to hit for power in the majors. But his average dropped from .249 in 2015 to .235 last season with Nashville. His patience at the plate is considered one of his strengths, but his walks dropped from 105 to 71 last season while he struck out 132 times.

“He’s made some adjustments in his swing that if he stays with them, I think will get him on the right track again,” Melvin said. “And that’s what I had to say to him was, ‘Every now and then in your career, you’ll take a small step backwards to move forward again.’ … There’s some stuff in his swing that showed up last year that we’ve been working on this camp that we feel like will make him better.”

WENDLE SIDELINED: A shoulder issue has kept second baseman Joey Wendle out of exhibitions lately. He’s appeared in just seven games and though Melvin said Wendle has made some progress, he also wasn’t sure when Wendle would return to action. Wendle made a nice impression in a September call-up last season.

“I was pleasantly surprised and really felt like coming into camp this year that we’d give him an extended opportunity,” Melvin said. “Obviously because of the injury” that hasn’t happened.

ODDS AND ENDS: The A’s didn’t do a ton offensively in a 2-1 victory over San Diego, but Adam Rosales was in the middle of all the good stuff. He scored on a wild pitch in the third after some aggressive base running to get to third. Then in the seventh, he snapped a 1-1 tie by singling home Mark Canha, who doubled off the center field wall. … Ryan Dull pitched a scoreless seventh with two strikeouts and Frankie Montas handled the eighth and ninth and recorded the save.

 

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as A's can't find answers vs Keuchel

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Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as A's can't find answers vs Keuchel

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON — Sean Manaea was much improved Friday night over his previous three starts for the A’s.

Unfortunately for the left-hander, he had no control over the work of his counterpart on the mound.

Astros lefty Dallas Keuchel was at his ground ball-inducing best, frustrating the A’s over seven scoreless innings as Houston continued its recent dominance over Oakland with a 3-1 victory in the opener of a three-game series at Minute Maid Park.

Keuchel recorded 17 of his 21 outs via ground ball, an astonishing rate but typical of the way the 2015 AL Cy Young winner likes to do business. He entered the night leading the major leagues in groundball percentage (64.7) among those with at least 90 innings pitched. Keuchel (11-2) got a big assist from his infield defense, particularly third baseman Alex Bregman and shortstop Marwin Gonzalez.

Manaea went six innings and gave up three runs, including back-to-back solo homers from Bregman and Jose Altuve in the third. But it was a definite step forward after his previous three outings, in which he surrendered 13 earned runs and 21 hits over just 6 2/3 innings.

The A’s mustered just five hits. Aside from Matt Joyce’s homer in the eighth, they didn’t advance a single runner past second base.

Oakland has dropped 11 of 13 games to Houston so far this season.

IMPROVED SHOWING: After showing signs of fatigue in his recent starts, Manaea showed improved form simply based on the batters he retired. His fastball generally sat between 89-91, still a bit below normal, but he overall pitched more effectively and turned in his longest outing since going seven innings July 27. He gave up six hits over his six innings, struck out two and walked one. A wild pitch in the sixth hurt, as it set up Josh Reddick’s RBI single.

HEY, IT’S PROGRESS: Seeing Manaea get through a scoreless first inning was noteworthy, as the A’s had gone five consecutive games with allowing at least one run in the first.

PINDER DEBUTS IN CENTER: Matt Olson entered the game as a pinch hitter in the top of the eighth, then went to right field in the bottom half. That pushed Chad Pinder over to center field, his first time playing the position in the major leagues. Manager Bob Melvin has mentioned Pinder is likely to draw some starts in center before the end of the season.

STRIKEOUTS MOUNTING FOR KD: After striking out four times Wednesday, the A’s cleanup man struck out three more times Friday. His 158 strikeouts entering the night were tied for eighth most in franchise history.

CATCHING UPDATE: Josh Phegley, coming back from a strained oblique, has played two games for Triple-A Nashville on a rehab assignment. Melvin said the A’s are not going to rush Phegley. Part of that is they think highly of the work Dustin Garneau has done in his place as the right-handed portion of the catching platoon with Bruce Maxwell.

After country music detour, Giles instrumental in A's ballpark quest

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After country music detour, Giles instrumental in A's ballpark quest

As the A’s Chief Operating Officer, Chris Giles’ thoughts and energies are wired into the business world, helping the team plan for a new ballpark and brainstorming all ways possible to bring in more revenue.

From talking to him, you wouldn’t guess that Giles once walked away from the white-collar sports management world to pursue a country music career.

Giles left a vice president position with the 49ers in November 2015, picking up an acoustic guitar, writing and recording a three-song EP, “Party Me”, that he performed at club shows all around Northern California.

He still performs once or twice a month on the weekend. It’s quite a contrast from his Monday-thru-Friday gig, but that’s exactly the point. In the lyrics to the song “Party Me”, Giles addresses the ambition and drive required in the 9-to-5 world and the reward of blowing off steam with buddies afterward.

“It’s a hobby, I’ll always do it,” Giles shares in the latest edition of The A’s Insider Podcast. “I still play once or twice a month locally, small acoustic stuff.”

Giles grew up in Clovis and sang in talent shows as a kid before becoming a high school wrestler.

“Randy Travis was my favorite as a kid,” he said. “I can remember writing his lyrics on construction paper and giving it to girls on the playground.”

Giles’ career in sales and marketing eventually led him to the 49ers, where he became VP of sales and strategy and played an instrumental role in the opening of Levi’s Stadium. He oversaw premium sales, seat license sales, concessions and retail among other responsibilities.

But he never lost his desire to pursue a music career.

“It was one of those things where I felt like if I didn’t give it a try, then I would always just regret it,” said Giles, who is married with three kids. “I enjoy writing songs, I love playing live. I was running around with a couple other artists, we were collaborating on a couple things. It just seemed like a logical point to give it a go.”

He eventually returned to the sports world with the NFL, running sales and marketing efforts for Super Bowl LI. But it’s his experience with the launch of Levi’s Stadium that appears to make him an especially good fit with the A’s, who plan to announce by the end of the calendar year a location in Oakland to build a new ballpark.

Opening a new stadium is one thing. Finding ways to maximize revenue from that venue is another, and that’s where Giles’ expertise factors in. He’s got an instrumental voice in how the ballpark will be designed and what features it will include.

He came aboard in an advisory role for A’s president Dave Kaval in March and was named the team’s COO in early July. Joining the franchise at this point, with so many ambitious plans for the future, is energizing to him.

“I think we’re approaching a rocket ship that’s sitting on the ground,” Giles said. “We’re not quite sure which rocket boosters work, but we know we’ve got a rocket ship. Our job is to make sure we tune that thing up and get it ready to go.”