Wolff pushes publicly for San Jose

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Wolff pushes publicly for San Jose

SAN JOSE -- A's owner Lew Wolff said Wednesday that indecision by Major League Baseball over whether his club can move to San Jose has been "excruciating" but that he believes the process is finally nearing an end.Just not as quickly as he'd like.Taking questions at the downtown Rotary Club of San Jose, Wolff said the uncertainty about the possible move is harming the franchise more than anything. He's hopeful that a resolution from baseball is coming soon - a word that has been reiterated by many for years.

"I'm not going to continue this much longer," Wolff said. "What we want is an answer. We want a yes, you can relocate and share the district, share the territory. Or you can't. But not having any answer is very difficult. Not just for me, but for the people that work for us, for planning our baseball team every year."
RELATED: Wolff: 'It's hard to be patient'The A's need approval from league owners to move to the south bay, where the San Francisco Giants hold territorial rights to the technology-rich region filled with fans and corporate dollars. Not to mention the Giants' Class-A affiliate is in San Jose.Commissioner Bud Selig appointed a committee in March 2009 to evaluate the issue facing the Bay Area teams. MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said Wednesday there was nothing new from the commissioner's office on the situation since Selig's remarks at the owners' meetings last month that the issue was on the "front burner."Wolff again refused to give a time frame on a possible decision - perhaps because even he's not sure when one could come down - and hinted that he could force a vote by league owners in a few months if a ruling remains in limbo. He later clarified to reporters that he plans to wait for the committee's recommendations."We're following the process. It's excruciating," Wolff said. "We talk constantly on many matters. I think we're getting there. We have ways where we can be a belligerent owner. It's not in me at this point."Among the other notable items:- Wolff said buying out the Giants' territorial rights to San Jose "has not been discussed with us."- He confirmed the team would be renamed the San Jose A's if it relocated. There was even a stuffed version of Stomper, the A's mascot, dressed in a "San Jose Athletics" uniform that greeted guest at the luncheon.- Wolff said he'd be fine if the Giants wanted to keep their Class-A team in San Jose.- The A's are not exploring a move to any other city and selling the team is not an option now.- Wolff said the team took in about 32 million in revenue sharing from other teams last season. He said the franchise spent all of the money, about half on player payroll. He expects payroll to be about 65 million to 70 million next season.Without a deal to move out of the outdated Oakland Coliseum, the A's maintain that they can't compete with other clubs. Oakland shed several of its best players this winter - including top starters Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and closer Andrew Bailey - for talented prospects in the latest payroll purge."I have one grandchild who still won't talk to me since we traded Gio," Wolff said.
Wolff, a successful Los Angeles real estate developer, reiterated the he has exhausted all efforts to keep the team in Oakland.
RATTO: City of Oakland grasping at stadium staws
The A's also had previously planned to build a state-of-the-art stadium in nearby Fremont that they thought would eventually transform the small-budget club into a big spender. That plan, which would have been in partnership with Cisco Systems Inc., fell through because of a variety of complications - including public transportation issues.There also are similar environmental and transportation concerns that could derail the San Jose project with a series of lawsuits, including one against the Silicon Valley city from a Giants-supported group called "Stand for San Jose." Wolff believes all those issues will be resolved and that lawsuits are often part of the process."If you have a cure for cancer in California, somebody is going to be against it," he joked.Wolff declined to go into specifics about what is holding up a decision from the Selig-appointed committee. But he said everything has been researched and discussed by the club and all that's needed now is a decision."If baseball is hiding some magic formula," Wolff said, "I wish they'd tell me."

Pinder's potential 'coming to fruition' in chance with A's

Pinder's potential 'coming to fruition' in chance with A's

OAKLAND — With so much attention focused on who might be the next wave of A’s infielders coming up from the minors, Chad Pinder is making quite a statement in the present.

Pinder enjoyed another big day at the plate Sunday with a two-run homer and a double in the A’s 12-3 loss to Boston. That came on the heels of Saturday’s 460-foot home run that made him just the fifth player to reach the second deck just above the Coliseum’s first level of luxury suites.

For fans around the country who might have seen that mammoth blast on highlight shows, it likely was their first introduction to the 25-year-old Virginia native. However, those within the organization witnessed Pinder’s steady rise through the farm system since he was drafted as a sandwich pick between the second and third rounds of the 2013 draft out of Virginia Tech.

“I don’t think it’s a shock what he’s doing,” said A’s designated hitter Ryon Healy, who was part of that same draft class. “I think he’s always been that caliber of player. He’s always had that potential and it’s coming to fruition right now and it’s really fun to watch.”

Pinder, who made his big league debut in September but began this season with Triple-A Nashville, is hitting .286 over 21 games with Oakland. He’s homered in four of his past eight, and he provided a boost over the weekend as the A’s took three of four from the Red Sox.

The right-handed hitting Pinder was in the lineup all four games — with the Red Sox starting lefties on the mound for the final three contests, the A’s stacked their lineup with righties, giving Pinder a stretch of consistent playing time.

He’s provided enough of a spark that he warrants consideration to remain in the lineup even though the A’s are scheduled to face right-handers during their two-game series with the Miami Marlins that begins Tuesday at the Coliseum.

Granted, it’s not the biggest sample size either way, but Pinder is actually hitting better against righties (.348, 8-for-23) than he is against lefties (.231, 6-for-26). Four of his five home runs also have come against right-handers.

Asked whether Pinder could draw more starts against right-handers, A’s manager Bob Melvin replied: “Potentially, yeah. You want to try to stay consistent with the lineups you have, but if you have a hot hand, you look for ways to get him in there.”

Working in Pinder’s advantage is the versatility he’s shown since being recalled from Nashville on April 16. The A’s always knew Pinder could handle second, shortstop or third as needed, but he’s also shown to be a capable option in right field with a strong arm for the outfield.

Pinder was the Texas League (Double-A) Player of the Year in 2015 and ranked No. 7 on Baseball America’s preseason list of A’s prospects. He’s making the most of his time in the majors.

On the minds of many Oakland fans is when a couple more infield prospects who are impressing at Triple-A — middle infielder Franklin Barreto and third baseman Matt Chapman — might get their first crack in the bigs.

Barreto, ranked as the No. 25 overall prospect in the majors in Baseball America’s most recent ratings, is hitting .311 with six homers and is tied with Matt Olson for Nashville’s RBI lead at 27. Chapman, ranked the 95th overall prospect, missed two weeks earlier this season with a wrist injury but has shown signs of heating up offensively. He’s hitting just .237 but has eight homers and 15 RBI.

Two other Nashville players, who have both seen time with the A’s, are putting up noteworthy numbers: Olson, a first baseman/outfielder, is hitting .276 with 10 homers and 27 RBI, and corner infielder/outfielder Renato Nunez is tied for the Pacific Coast League lead with 12 homers to go with a .245 average and 25 RBI.

The A’s are working with Barreto and Chapman to hone their approach at the plate and control the strike zone. General manager David Forst maintains the A’s will be patient with both, noting that Pinder benefited last year from a full season at Triple-A before his promotion.

“The calendar needs to turn over,” Forst said. “They need at-bats. Matt missed a couple weeks with the injury, but they just need more days and more at-bats. We don’t have an ‘X’ on the calendar anywhere where this is the day. We’ll know when it’s time.”

Axford makes his 2017 debut; Doolittle takes step forward to return

Axford makes his 2017 debut; Doolittle takes step forward to return

OAKLAND — The A’s officially welcomed John Axford back into their bullpen fold Sunday, and they got some encouraging news about another reliever.

Sean Doolittle was expected to only throw a flat-ground session before the series finale against Boston, but he wound up throwing 15 pitches off the mound as well. That’s the first time Doolittle has thrown from the mound since joining the disabled list May 3 with a strained left shoulder. Next up is a 25-pitch session off the mound Wednesday.

The early indications are that Doolittle’s current shoulder woes aren’t as severe as the ailments that sidelined him for major portions of the past two seasons.

Axford was reinstated from the 10-day DL Saturday for his own shoulder strain, but his season debut came Sunday, when he handled the eighth inning and allowed one run. He was sidelined during the season-opening series against the Angels when he hurt his shoulder while warming up in the bullpen.

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All indications are that first baseman Yonder Alonso will be available to return to the lineup Tuesday for the opener of a two-game interleague series against the Miami Marlins. A’s manager Bob Melvin said before Sunday’s game that he considered Alonso as potentially being available off the bench. Given the A’s are off Monday, it’s reasonable to assume Alonso will be ready Tuesday when the Marlins start right-hander Jose Urena on the mound.

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The A’s are plenty familiar with Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland from his days with division rival Texas. But Moreland continues to do damage against Oakland even though he’s out of the AL West. Moreland’s two-run homer in the sixth off Andrew Triggs marked his third homer of the four-game series, and his 19th homer in 80 career games against the A’s. That’s his most homers against any major league club.

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The run Axford allowed in the eighth snapped a streak of 27 scoreless innings at home by the A’s bullpen. Josh Smith allowed five runs in the ninth.