Tokyo Diary -- First workout

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Tokyo Diary -- First workout

EDITOR'S NOTE: Kate Longworth is Tokyo-bound with the A's! Although it's not her standard practice to let strangers read her diary, she invites you to go behind the scenes with the A's up-and-coming players. Log on throughout the day for Kate's journal posts from Japan, and tune in nightly for her A's reports on SportsNet Central and NBC Bay Area. Whether the players are in the Tokyo Dome taking BP or trying exotic sushi, you can explore the streets of one of the most fascinating cities -- Comcast SportsNet is your ticket to Tokyo!
Tokyo Diary
Saturday, March 24, 2012

Saturday morning marked the Athletics' first workout at the Tokyo Dome. As we entered the Dome, after passing through security, we had to one by one, be let in to the facility through a pressurized door -- as to not offset the pressure inside, much like the MetroDome.Taking the field here, was incredible. The turf is in impeccable shape and the Dome, to me just looked like a thing of beauty. You hear so many stories about watching games here, how it is an experience like no other. And although there was just a handful of media members on the field when I first saw it, I could quickly envision what it's going to be like starting tomorrow, and I can't wait!And neither can the players. The team is currently in the visitor's clubhouse but will be moving over to the home clubhouse for some of the games next week. It's tighter spaces here than back at the Coliseum, but the players don't seem to mind one bit.Many of them brought along their own cameras and video cameras to capture the moment. A half hour before team stretch, most of the players were already out on the field taking it all in.The relievers found the bullpen placement interesting...it's behind home plate in a closed in room. So while a pitcher is warming up, facing his bullpen catcher, he can't see the action on the field. But Brian Fuentes quickly explained to the younger guys that there will be a TV in there so they'll know exactly what's going on.I overheard the outfielders discussing the Dome, jokingly concerned that it'll be tough to track a fly ball because the Dome and lights literally are the color of a baseball. Some of the players compared the Dome to Tropicana, but quicklyaknowledged it'll be a scene like no other when the fans are here.As the players took the field for the workout, we put amic on Jerry Blevins, and working along sideMLB Productions whomic'd Jonny Gomes. We'll be featuring this footage ofTokyoDome through the players' eyes on our Japan Special on CSN California."PlayersReact to a New Culture"I hung out in the dugout with the players as they came onto the field before stretching. We all commented on how unique the sunk-in dugout is with two rows of benches, and then two little seats above the steps for the manager and bench coach.And after we got over the new digs, we all recapped the first night in Tokyo. Luckily for the fans wanting to see good baseball from the A's, the players got sleep. I, however, did not. My body woke up at 6 am after a restless five hours of sleep -- maybe it thought I had to attend our3 pm newsroom meeting back home? Without Starbucks in me and minimal sleep over the last few days, I am guessing my internal clock will catch up, but right now the excitement keeps me going.And the players are sharing that same excitement. Tonight they have a free night, and many can't wait to go try some sushi and take in some of the culture."Money Matters"One thing that concerns the players is how much money they are spending. We're all still trying to figure out the Yen translation into US dollars. I've been told a roughguestimate is to drop the last two numbers and you will know a ballpark price range.For example, the soup I had last night was written in the menu at 1,094... so yes, I had a 10 bowl of soup!Wes Timmons was sitting with me when we learned of this shortcut translation...when we started talking money, he joked "it's fun, kind of like we're playing with Monopoly money because you don't really know what you're spending."After, we learned the Yen amount in US dollars."Ok, so I definitely should have eaten more at breakfast," Wes told me, moments after bragging about his great meal. "Apparently I spent 27 for the egg and toast I got at the buffet."It's humbling to see the minor league journeyman watching his dime. After all, he substitute teaches in the offseason to help makes ends meet for his wife and two kids... slightly different than some of the millions of dollars his teammates make each year."On Deck"Tonight we have a "Night on the Town with the Athletics." We will be dining with Brandon Allen, Josh Reddick and CollinCowgill and then hitting up a Karaoke spot. Rumor is Allen is pretty incredible. I am guessing more players will be stopping by as well, so I will send updates American Idol style on Twitter!

A’s agree to terms with Gray, Hendriks and Vogt to avoid arbitration

A’s agree to terms with Gray, Hendriks and Vogt to avoid arbitration

The Oakland A’s avoided arbitration with right-handed pitchers Sonny Gray and Liam Hendriks and catcher Stephen Vogt when they agreed to terms on one-year contracts for the 2017 season, the club announced today.

Gray went 5-11 with a 5.69 ERA in 22 starts last year in a season shortened by two stints on the disabled list.  His ERA was more than 2½ runs higher than his previous career high and his five wins follow back-to-back 14-win seasons.  Gray went 33-20 with a 2.88 ERA 76 games over his first three seasons with the A’s and now has a 3.42 ERA in his career, which ranks ninth in Oakland history.

Hendriks compiled a 3.76 ERA and .270 opponents batting average in 53 relief appearances in his first season with the A’s.  He had an 8.27 ERA and .394 opponents batting average in 11 games before going on the disabled list in early May with a strained right triceps.  Hendriks then logged a 2.23 ERA and .222 opponents batting average in 42 games following his return from the DL.

Vogt played in a career-high 137 games last year and hit .251 with 14 home runs and 56 RBI.  He also had career bests with 123 hits, 30 doubles and 46 extra base hits.  Vogt was named to his second consecutive American League All-Star team.

The only remaining arbitration eligible player on the A’s roster is Khris Davis.

A's media services

Mariners swing pair of trades, bolster rotation with addition of Smyly

Mariners swing pair of trades, bolster rotation with addition of Smyly

SEATTLE -- Jerry Dipoto's 11th trade this offseason rounded out the Seattle Mariners roster with his top target.

"I've probably spent more time through the course of our offseason trying to acquire Drew Smyly than any other thing that we've done," the general manager said Wednesday.

Seattle made pair of deals on Wednesday that ultimately landed Smyly, a pitcher Dipoto thinks will fill out the Mariners starting rotation. Seattle also landed a potential key reliever, getting right-hander Shae Simmons from the Atlanta Braves.

The Mariners acquired outfielder Mallex Smith from Atlanta, then sent him to Tampa Bay along with infielder Carlos Vargas and left-hander Ryan Yarbrough for Smyly. Smith was also an offseason target for the Mariners but when Seattle acquired Jarrod Dyson from Kansas City last week, Smith instead became the conduit in helping to obtain Smyly.

"It became apparent to us over the last two or three days that we were able to access Drew Smyly by making the deal with Atlanta that tapped into Mallex Smith," Dipoto said. "So effectively these were two deals that were interlinked."

Smyly is the centerpiece of what Seattle was trying to accomplish as the Mariners seem to have rounded out a starting rotation that appeared to be a major question at the start of the year. The acquisitions of Smyly and Yovani Gallardo from Baltimore last week appear to have filled out a rotation where Felix HernandezHisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton were the only certainties.

Smyly, 27, made 30 starts last season for Tampa Bay, throwing a career-high 175 1/3 innings and striking out 167. He was 7-12 with a 4.88 ERA, but starting pitching is one of Tampa Bay's strongest assets, and Rays senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager Erik Neander felt comfortable making the deal because of the depth the Rays have in that area.

Smyly was 15-15 with a 3.95 ERA in 49 starts for Tampa Bay after being acquired from Detroit in the 2014 trade deadline deal that sent David Price to the Tigers. He is arbitration eligible after winning $3.75 million in an arbitration hearing last season.

"He fits our ballpark particularly well. He's a pretty extreme fly-ball pitcher with the low walks, high strikeouts, who in our ballpark, with what we think is a greatly improved outfield defense fits us like a glove really," Dipoto said. "If as we expect he shows up and does his thing it should fit very well for us in this ballpark."

What Smith may be able to add was attractive to Neander, who said the trade was made to help position the Rays to be competitive in 2017. He stopped short of saying he expects Smith to make the team coming out of spring training.

"We need to get better," Neander said. "To do that, we need more competition" for jobs.

Simmons is also a key acquisition for Seattle, providing another power arm in the bullpen. Simmons, 26, made seven appearances last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery and threw just 6 2/3 big league innings. Before elbow issues, Simmons was 1-2 with a 2.91 ERA in 26 appearances during the 2014 season.

"He's had a strong history with striking (batters) out and (we're) really excited to plug him in," Dipoto said.

The cost for Seattle to complete to two deals meant giving up two of its top pitching prospects in Yarbrough and Luiz Gohara. Yarbrough, 25, was named the Southern League pitcher of the year after going 12-4 with a 2.95 ERA at Double-A Jackson last season. Gohara, 20, was 7-2 with a 1.81 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 13 starts at two Class A stops.

Seattle also sent lefty Thomas Burrows to Atlanta and designated right-hander Cody Martin for assignment to make room on its 40-man roster.