At 6-0, Griffin is making a name for himself

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At 6-0, Griffin is making a name for himself

BOX SCORE

ANAHEIM -- The nameplate above A.J. Griffin's clubhouse stall in Anaheim is handwritten. The rest are printed. Turns out his name was spelled wrong. An innocent mistake, but it tells a certain story. Griffin wasn't even in Spring Training in Arizona. Manager Bob Melvin admitted he hadn't heard of him as the team began preparations for their 2012 campaign. After going an Oakland-era best 6-0 to start his Major League career it is safe to say everyone will soon know Griffin's name. "He's on my radar now put it that way," Melvin said. "Billy Beane and the front office have done a great job targeting these guys when they are ready to come up and perform." Griffin, a native of Southern California, was at his best against the Angels on Wednesday. With family and friends in attendance he tossed a career-best eight shutout innings on six hits, struck out eight batters and walked none."I had pretty good command of all four of my pitches tonight and I just tried to go after guys and get ahead and put them in leverage situations for me," Griffin said.According to A's baseball information manager Mike Selleck, Griffin is now the only Major League pitcher to since at least 1918 to allow three-or-fewer runs and walk two-or-fewer batters in each of his first 11 career starts. "I just try to detach from that kind of stuff and just go out there and pitch wherever they tell me to pitch," Griffin said. "It's been working out so far and I don't think I'll try and change it right now."The A's have asked him to pitch in Single-A, Double-A, Triple-A, and the Major Leagues this season. He has excelled at all levels. "He's off to a decent start put it that way," Melvin said. "We've seen a lot of good games out of him but against that lineup here at this place that's probably as good as we've seen him." Like any smart pitcher Griffin knows he can't do it without a little help from his friends. Coco Crisp was probably his best friend on Wednesday. Crisp threw out Chris Iannetta as he tried to advance from first to third on a single in the third inning, and made a spectacular highlight reel diving catch to again rob Iannetta in the fifth frame. "I was watching him go after and it and I was like, 'He's kind of closing on this ball. Oh my God I can't believe he caught it,'" Griffin said. "That's pretty impressive. That's one of the best catches I've ever had behind me and I really appreciate it."The rookie pitcher was quick to credit his teammates for his success. A little run support went a long way. The A's took an early lead after Josh Reddick hit a double in the first inning and scored when Erick Aybar made an error on a grounder hit by Cespedes. In the sixth inning Cespedes hit a ball that nobody could get a glove on, crushing his 18th home run of the season. On Tuesday Cespedes snapped a 21-game home run drought. Now he has two in as many days. "Guys are going to go through streaks. I think the oddity is we are used to seeing him drive balls all the time," Melvin said. The A's added some insurance runs in the eighth inning when Josh Donaldson and Derek Norris both hit doubles. Crisp then stepped to the plate and swatted a single to right field driving in Norris to make it a 4-0 game. The Angels only run came on a home run hit by Albert Pujols in the ninth inning off Sean Doolittle. Pujols' homer was his 30th this season, making him first player in MLB history to hit 30 or more homers in his first 12 seasons. The A's are also setting records though. Oakland has now won 12 road games in a row. That ties an Oakland-era record set in 1971. The road success has the A's surging and they are now a season-high 22 games over .500. "Certainly you want to try to build on each win for momentum," Melvin said. "We started it by playing in some tough venues and winning on the road and there's an energy we have on the road now."Clearly it is working. If this keeps up the A's will be well on their way to being a bunch of household names.

Notes: A's likely to leave winter meetings with unfinished business

Notes: A's likely to leave winter meetings with unfinished business

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — A’s general manager David Forst flies home Thursday afternoon, and unless there’s a drastic change in the final stages of the winter meetings, he’ll still be searching for a center fielder.

Wednesday’s events included some discussion between Oakland and other parties, but no concrete progress toward landing a center fielder. That’s despite the late-breaking news Tuesday that the A’s and Royals were talking trade for fleet-footed Kansas City outfielder Jarrod Dyson.

“It’s a two-way street with a free agent or a team, a function of the other side’s pace,” Forst said. “It’s unlikely (they complete a deal at the meetings), and not for lack of conversations or lack of ideas. Just things move at different speeds.”

It doesn’t necessarily mean the chance of landing Dyson is done. Forst pointed out talks which transpire at the winter meetings sometimes materialize into a deal down the road. But it’s also worth noting that the Baltimore Orioles are pursuing Dyson too. FanRag’s Jon Heyman reported that Baltimore and Kansas City have discussed him.

Therefore, consider the A’s as players in the free agent as well as trade markets.

“We’ve cast a wide net,” Forst said.

Two free agent center fielders came off the board Wednesday as the Rockies agreed to a five-year $70 million contract with Ian Desmond and the Rangers re-signed Carlos Gomez to a one-year $11.5 million deal. Desmond was assumed to be out of the A’s price range, but Gomez was thought to be a realistic target. He opted to return to Texas, which needed to do some outfield re-stocking after losing Desmond and Carlos Beltran, who like Gomez was an in-season acquisition for the Rangers in 2016.

The three most enticing free agents left now at the position appear to be Dexter Fowler — like Desmond, expected to command a pricey multi-year deal — former Athletic Rajai Davis and Austin Jackson.

As for other needs, the A’s would add a veteran starting pitcher at the right price and could look to upgrade at second base, though neither of those is as high a priority as landing someone to anchor the middle of their outfield.

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Manager Bob Melvin addressed reporters at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. Though A’s top baseball official Billy Beane said Tuesday the organizational focus was on the future, aiming for a strong team to be in place by the time the A’s potentially move into a new ballpark, Melvin’s attention is solely on the upcoming season.

“In 2012, we had I don't know how many rookies on that team. It was all rookie starters, and we ended up winning the division,” Melvin said. “Once you start the season, the focus is all about winning.”

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Should the A’s not bring in a center fielder who can also lead off, the first in-house candidate Melvin mentioned as perhaps hitting atop the order was Joey Wendle. He gave a nice showing of himself in a September call-up and hit leadoff for a stretch, but there’s no guarantee that Wendle even starts at second base next season, especially if veteran Jed Lowrie is healthy after foot surgery.

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Former Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale has rejoined Oakland’s staff as Melvin’s third-base coach, and Melvin has plenty of confidence that Hale will capably fill Ron Washington’s shoes as the infield instructor. Washington was popular with A’s infielders and had particular success working with shortstop Marcus Semien.

Hale served as Melvin’s bench coach before getting hired by Arizona before the 2015 season.

“Obviously we've talked a lot about Wash and what he's meant to some of these younger guys,” Melvin said. “We feel like if anybody can replace Wash, it's Chip Hale.”

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Forst said John Axford will pitch for Canada in the World Baseball Classic. Fellow reliever Liam Hendriks has not yet committed to Team Australia.

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Right-hander Chris Bassitt, who underwent Tommy John surgery in May, was examined by A’s head trainer Nick Paparesta on Wednesday and his recovery is going very well. He’s between throwing programs right now. Forst added that lefty Felix Doubront is also coming back well from the same procedure.

Report: Holliday's no-trade clause with Yankees only covers A's

Report: Holliday's no-trade clause with Yankees only covers A's

Matt Holliday spent the first half of the 2009 season in Oakland.

Apparently, he has no desire to return.

In his one-year, $13 million contract with the Yankees that was finalized on Wednesday, Holliday has a limited no-trade clause that protects him from being traded to only the A's, according to SB Nation.

Holliday was acquired by the A's following the 2008 season for Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street and Greg Smith.

But he only played in 93 games with the A's before they dealt him to St. Louis for Brett Wallace, Clayton Mortensen and Shane Peterson.

The 37-year-old spent the last seven full seasons with the Cardinals.