A's using brains and brawn at Winter Meetings


A's using brains and brawn at Winter Meetings

NASHVILLE -- The A's are ironing out details with dumbbells and barbells. Amid elliptical trainers and treadmills, Oakland isn't exactly sweating over the details presented by Stephen Drew's agent Scott Boras at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tennessee.

According to Boras, there are a number of clubs interested in Drew. He declined to specify the number. He did say that he has met with A's general manager Billy Beane the past two mornings -- in a somewhat unorthodox setting.

"It was in the gym," he said. "And I was dodging medicine balls."

Boras described Beane as a little bigger and stronger than himself. Maybe that is why the A's general manager prefers to discuss business while pumping iron.

"My best work is done in the gym," Beane said with a smile in his suite.

All kidding aside, the interest that Drew is drawing from Oakland remains consistent. Beane will meet with Boras in a more formal setting before departing the Winter Meetings on Thursday.

"I consider that formal," Beane said of his gym meetings. "All the rumors are true. That's really my office."

Boras claims that Drew is the head of the free agent class at shortstop. Surrounded by a large contingent of national media, Boras described the market for the 29-year-old shortstop's services as "ever-growing."

"I think he's looked at as the shortstop of this market," Boras declared.

The frequent meetings aren't exactly a sign that something is going to get done soon. There is no sense of urgency on the A's side to complete a deal for a shortstop, yet. The A's like to wait for a bargain, and Boras' clients tend to sign late in the offseason.

The waiting game has left the A's with one less option to fill their infield needs. The Rays acquired Yunel Escobar on Tuesday in a trade with the Marlins. The A's did have some interest in Escobar.   

"We've explored some trade possibilities and opted not to pursue some of those," Beane said.

It's not hard to decipher who the clever A's GM was referring to there.

Oakland has also been meeting with the representation for international free agent Hiroyuki Nakajima. The Seibu Lions' shortstop from the Japanese Pacific League is an intriguing option.

With one less trade target on the board, and the A's and Boras playing dodgeball, Oakland's time in Nashville is more of a fact finding mission than anything. The team is laying the groundwork for a deal or signing. After all, it is equally important to exercise the mind and muscles alike. 

A's blow it again in ninth, swept on walk-off grand slam in 10th


A's blow it again in ninth, swept on walk-off grand slam in 10th


TORONTO -- Steve Pearce hit a game-winning grand slam in the 10th inning and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Oakland Athletics 8-4 on Thursday to complete a four-game sweep.

Oakland reliever Liam Hendriks (3-2) walked the bases loaded with two outs before Pearce hooked a 3-2 pitch down the left field line and into the second deck.

Kendrys Morales, who hit a game-winning homer in the ninth inning Wednesday, had two more home runs Thursday. Morales connected off Sean Manaea in the fifth and added a tying blast off Blake Treinen in the ninth, the 19th multihomer game of his career.

Josh Donaldson also homered for Toronto, hitting a solo blast in the first.

Roberto Osuna (3-0) worked one inning for the win.

Marcus Semien had three hits and a walk for the Athletics, who have lost 11 of 12 in Toronto.

In the fifth, one batter after Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was ejected for arguing ball and strikes with home plate umpire Will Little, Stroman and catcher Russell Martin were both tossed. An irate Stroman charged toward home plate to confront Little, and had to be restrained by Martin and bench coach DeMarlo Hale.

Right-hander Chris Smith replaced Stroman and Miguel Montero took over for Martin.

Stroman allowed three runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings, walking a season-high six.

Oakland struck quickly against Stroman, scoring three runs in the first against a pitcher who had allowed just four earned runs combined in his previous four July starts. Ryon Healy drove in a run with a groundout and Bruce Maxwell followed with a two-run single.

Donaldson replied with a one-out blast in the bottom half, his 10th, and Morales connected to begin the fifth, his 19th.

Toronto tied it in the sixth when Jose Bautista hit a leadoff double and scored on Justin Smoak's two-out single.

Troy Tulowitzki tried to score from second on Darwin Barney's two-out single in the seventh, but was thrown out at home plate by a strong throw from right fielder Matt Joyce.

Manaea allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings.

Oakland broke a 3-all tie against Ryan Tepera in the eighth when Semien's two-out single scored Jaycob Brugman, but Morales answered in the ninth.

There was so much more to Bill King’s life beyond the broadcast booth


There was so much more to Bill King’s life beyond the broadcast booth

When the Hall of Fame presents Bill King with the Ford C. Frick award Saturday, it will be big not only for the multitude of fans that listened to him but the colleagues who worked alongside the legendary A's broadcaster.

“I think he was the very best radio sports broadcaster we’ve ever had in this country,” NBC Sports Bay Area’s Greg Papa said. “He’s just a radio genius. To me, he epitomized the Bay Area as a sportscaster because he was the Bay Area. His word choice, his vocabulary, the way he was able to describe things. In so many ways he was the perfect Bay Area radio broadcaster.”

King was the rare breed of broadcaster, someone versatile enough and knowledgable enough to excel at announcing three major sports — football with the Raiders from 1966-92, basketball with the Warriors from 1962-83 and baseball with the A’s from 1981 until his death in 2005.

It was baseball that was nearest to his heart. And while his expertise at describing a ballgame was unparalleled, there was so much more to King’s life beyond the broadcast booth. That’s something current A’s radio play-by-play man Ken Korach discovered in the decade he worked alongside King after joining the A’s in 1995.

Korach, who chronicled King’s career in the 2013 book “Holy Toledo: Lessons from Bill King, Renaissance Man of the Mic”, found himself visiting art museums with King during A’s road trips.

“He was a patron of the arts and the ballet, the opera,” Korach said. “One thing that people may not know is that he was a wonderful impressionist painter. He painted landscapes that were absolutely beautiful, breaththaking.”

Korach has one of King’s paintings hanging in his den.

Like King, Papa also announced three different sports at the same time for a period — football with the Raiders, basketball with the San Antonio Spurs and baseball with the A’s. When he joined the A’s television booth in 1990, King was a crucial resource for him.

“When I began doing A’s TV in 1990, I would listen to Bill and have a legal pad out and take notes,” said Papa, who still calls Raider games. “It was better than any research I could do. He was so meticulously prepared.”

Korach chuckled when recalling King’s idiosyncrasies in the booth, such as insisting the window always remain open regardless of the elements.

“Even if it was December in Cleveland, and it was a Raider game and snowing and 5 degrees, the window would stay open,” Korach said. “He was real meticulous with the way he would set up the table when broadcasting the game, all of the notes in a certain place. And the wind would just wreak havoc. There was one game when literally I was on the air and he just took all of his stuff and slammed it on the ground, he was so upset and frustrated.”

For many years King was bypassed for Cooperstown, his excellence in three sports probably robbing him of being appreciated in one specific sport. On Saturday, he gets the ultimate tribute in being inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Korach and his wife, Denise, will be on hand for the ceremony.

“The most important thing,” Korach said, “is what it means to A’s fans, and fans in the Bay Area in general.”