A's extend C.J. Wilson's winless streak

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A's extend C.J. Wilson's winless streak

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OAKLAND -- Infamous for his critical comments of the Oakland Coliseum mound and fans, C.J. Wilson was given plenty to be bitter about on Tuesday. As scattered "C.J. sucks" chants broke out across the Coliseum crowd, the Angels pitcher probably had a hard time hearing them over the loud sound of the bat making contact with his pitches. Wilson allowed nine hits and walked five batters. He allowed six runs -- three earned -- he hasn't won a game in his last eight starts as the A's defeated the Angels 10-4. After suffering through their MLB-worst 13th shutout of the season the A's got on board early with a first inning Jonny Gomes solo homer to left field. Gomes' 12th home run sent reverberations through the A's lineup.
RELATED: Instant Replay -- A's 10, Angels 4
"We've had a propensity to hit home runs this year and C.J. Wilson doesn't give up too many," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "To get an early lead with a home run like that kind of gave us a little bit of swagger back and some momentum."Gomes said the negative comments that Wilson made in 2011 about Oakland didn't serve as a motivating factor in any way for the A's. "I don't even know what he said," Gomes admitted. "From my end I don't get hung up on that stuff. Just kind of a bozo comment by him, no one is bigger than the game. There's 30 organizations. I don't know why you've got to bag on any of them."The A's loaded the bases against Wilson in the first, third, and fourth innings. Derek Norris came to the plate all three times the bases were loaded. He didn't record a hit with the bases loaded, but two runs scored when Angels third baseman Alberto Callaspo badly misplayed a ground ball that Norris hit in the third inning. The miscue gave the A's an early 3-0 lead and opened the flood gates. Later that inning Jemile Weeks' American League-leading eighth triple made it a 5-0 game. That was more than A's starting pitcher Bartolo Colon would need. He tormented the Angels hitters over seven innings of one run ball. The only run he allowed was unearned and it snapped a career-high 22 and one-third scoreless inning streak for the veteran pitcher. "With his command it is going to be tough to string hits together against him," Melvin said. "Billy Beane did a good job targeting a veteran presence like him. His attitude has rubbed off on a lot of our young pitchers." Colon got his ninth win of the season and his 10th career victory of the Halos -- the team he won the 2005 Cy Young award with. He threw 23 first pitch strikes and faced 27 hitters. He kept the Angels off balance all night, throwing predominantly two-seam and four-seam fastballs. "The guy is a dinosaur he has been doing it forever," Gomes said. "He knows what he's doing, he knows these hitters, he knows his stuff better than anyone. You think he almost throws too many strikes." The A's ended up clubbing a season-high tying four home runs. Norris and Adam Rosales connected for back-to-back blasts in the sixth inning, and Josh Reddick pulled a homer to right field in the seventh inning. Reddick's 25th home run ball wasn't the only thing he sent into the right field bleachers on Tuesday. He also sent them four large trays of bacon before the game in honor of a relatively new Oakland tradition called Bacon Tuesday. "I was just doing a little something different today," Reddick said of his greasy gesture. "I figured I'd give them a little something back. They've been really supportive of me all year."The A's were clearly in a giving mood on Tuesday, but it was a home run ball that Coco Crisp took away that had the clubhouse buzzing after the game. In the ninth inning the veteran center field tracked a deep fly ball hit by Angels slugger Kendrys Morales all the way to the deepest part of the park before perfectly timing his leap and snaring the ball in the webbing of his glove."We have the ability to play good defense," Melvin said. "All of those things go a long way in having a feeling of a good team effort all the way around."The A's also felt good about getting Yoenis Cespedes back in the lineup. He legged out two infield singles and stole third base in the third inning -- a moment that might have given some of his teammates pause since he sprained his right wrist on Friday trying to swipe third. "You do the best you can to get him out there on the field healthy and have faith in the fact that he is going to remain healthy," Melvin said. "I actually didn't think about that until after the play." Cespedes was forced to miss Monday's game against the Angels because his wrist was bothering him. He was the designated hitter on Tuesday but turned heads -- including his managers -- during batting practice when he started getting some work in at shortstop. "It made me feel good that he was feeling good enough to do that," Melvin said. "You hope nothing happens because we didn't want him to play the outfield, but he certainly felt good enough to make some off-balance throws from shortstop today."The A's will conclude their 10-game homestand on Wednesday in a day game. After snapping their three-game losing streak they will have a chance to take the series against the division rival Angels before heading on the road for six games. The A's are half a game behind the Tigers for the first American League Wild Card spot and are tied with the Orioles for the second spot. They are in second place in the American League West, just a half game ahead of the Angels.

A's holiday shopping focuses on a center fielder

A's holiday shopping focuses on a center fielder

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The A’s didn’t add any players during the four-day winter meetings, but they did wave goodbye to one.

Minor league right-hander Dylan Covey was scooped up by the Chicago White Sox in Thursday’s Rule 5 draft. The Sox pay the A’s $50,000 for his rights, and he must either remain on their 25-man roster for the entire 2017 season or be offered back to Oakland for $25,000.

The 25-year-old Covey, ranked the A’s No. 20 prospect by mlb.com, was an Arizona Fall League standout this offseason after working his way back from an oblique injury that wiped out most of his 2016 season.

“We’ll see what happens,” A’s general manager David Forst said. “He certainly was as deserving as anybody of being protected (on the A’s 40-man roster), we just ran out of spots. Good for him to get this opportunity.”

As for ways Oakland might supplement its own roster, that task continues.

The A’s held plenty of discussions over four days spent at the sprawling Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, but those talks didn’t bear fruit in their search for a center fielder. They had trade dialogue with the Kansas City Royals regarding Jarrod Dyson, a blazing runner and potential leadoff man, but couldn’t find common ground.

As the holidays approach, the A’s will continue to scan the free agent market and explore trade opportunities.

“My guess is there are plenty of things we talked about this week that have legs, and those conversations will continue over the next few weeks,” Forst said. “We’ve got two months until pitchers and catchers report, four months until the season. We’re not the only ones leaving here without actually consummating something.”

The Orioles are another team reportedly trying to pry Dyson from the Royals. Another center fielder mentioned as being available is Reds speedster Billy Hamilton, although reports suggest Cincinnati isn’t in a rush to move him.

Dexter Fowler is the best free agent center fielder still on the market, although Austin Jackson and Rajai Davis seem to fall more in the A’s price range.

Forst was asked how much urgency there is to the center field search.

“I’m not confident they’re gonna be there all winter, there’s only a certain number of guys,” he said. “We’re not going to risk anything to jump out (and do something) we wouldn’t otherwise do. But we think we’re being diligent.

“We cast a wide net, and we continue to. We have to keep doing that just to make sure — free agents, trades, different kinds of players, platoons, whatever. I think we have to keep our toes in every option.”

As for other areas the A’s can improve, they may look to add a veteran starting pitcher. Just speculation, but Doug Fister is one free agent whose price tag figures to be reasonable, and he’s a Northern California native. However, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the A’s simply invited a veteran to camp on a minor league contract to see if they can find a diamond in the rough, or at least someone to provide competition.

A’s executive VP of baseball operations Billy Beane mentioned second base as an area of concern because of injury issues (Jed Lowrie) and inexperience (Joey Wendle, Chad Pinder), but it’s very possible the A’s stick with their in-house options.
 

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.