Kottaras hopes to fit in with A's


Kottaras hopes to fit in with A's

OAKLAND -- He may not have white cleats yet, but he's an Oakland Athletic. George Kottaras has arrived in Oakland after being acquired in a trade on Sunday from the Brewers. He joins an A's team that is unquestionably the hottest in baseball, and will be tasked with catching a pitching staff that is first in the American League with a 3.44 ERA. No pressure. Kottaras' main goal is simply to fit in. Don't move anything, don't alter anything, just go with the flow. "Everyone is pitching great, so I want to kind of roll on from where they are now," Kottaras said. "I'm not going to change a thing. I'm going to see what they are doing and go along with that." The A's new catcher arrived late last night. He got a chance to meet his teammates for the first time on Monday. He likes what he sees."Great attitude in here, I see guys having fun and also getting their work in," he said. "That's the way it should be."Kottaras, 29, is left-handed so he adds another dimension to the A's offense from the catcher position. Kurt Suzuki and Derek Norris both bat from the right side. A's manager Bob Melvin likes to platoon hitters. He believes that has been one of the main reasons the A's offense is performing so well. His plan is to use Kottaras and Suzuki in that fashion.The idea of a platoon has a lot to do with why rookie catcher Derek Norris -- who had been seeing roughly two starts to every one Suzuki was getting -- was sent down. "I don't think we wanted to get in a position with him where we were platooning," Melvin said. "He knows he can play here. For a young catcher he was very well received by the pitching staff. Sometimes that's difficult to do." Norris played in 21 games with the A's since being called up on June 21. He batted .195 with three homers, 11 RBIs and a surprising three stolen bases in his time with Oakland. He gained a lot of valuable information on the A's starting pitchers and learned how to carry himself at the big league level."Norris handled himself very well," Melvin said. "We won a lot of games with him in the lineup. It was valuable experience for him. He is going to be a heck of a player down the road." You can trust Melvin's opinion when it comes to catchers. He spent 10 years in the big leagues donning the tools of ignorance. So what did Melvin think of his new backstop? "He works the count, gets on base, he's got a little power in his bat, and they say he calls a good game," Melvin said. Sounds like Kottaras has everything he needs to succeed here -- except white cleats. He was wearing someone else's white kicks in the clubhouse to fit in. "These were handed over for me," he said proudly while modeling them for us. "It's pretty cool walking around with white cleats." Notes:- Coco Crisp is still nursing a hamstring injury. He won't get in the field on Monday. They A's hope to run him around on Tuesday and re-evaluate him. - Cliff Pennington hit off the tee on Saturday. Monday he took some soft toss, hit off the tee and did some dry swings. Its the first day he feels pretty good and hasn't been sore while swinging. Melvin says that he'll have a better idea how soon they can get Pennington back when he starts taking batting practice. He noted that Pennington would have to go on a rehab assignment before returning. - Brandon McCarthy pitches for the Sacramento River Cats in Reno tonight. Brett Anderson goes Tuesday. Anderson will throw around 75 pitches.

A's GM Forst feels passion of fans, will not second-guess decisions

A's GM Forst feels passion of fans, will not second-guess decisions

A’s general manager David Forst says he has a stack of strongly worded letters from fans who grow frustrated with many of the team’s personnel moves.

That comes with the territory of running a major league front office. But Forst also said, during a wide-ranging interview on the latest A’s Insider Podcast, that honest critiquing must come from within office walls.

“You do want to do some self-evaluation and self-assessing,” Forst said. “What I don’t do, I don’t go back and second-guess decisions, whether it’s a trade or a signing. I don’t sort of hypothetically think, ‘Well, what if we hadn’t done this,’ because it’s not a good use of anybody’s time. What you do have to do is make sure the process that led to that decision is sound and a good one.”

Certainly one of the most scrutinized A’s moves of recent history was their signing of designated hitter Billy Butler to a three-year $30 million contract in November 2014. That turned out to be a costly mistake, with Butler being released in September with one year left on his deal and the A’s still on the hook for roughly $10 million. Forst acknowledged how poorly that decision worked out but sticks by the initial motivation to sign Butler.

“Look, Billy Butler didn’t go the way we expected, and that’s one that gets brought up a lot,” Forst said. “But I think back to the time when we made that decision to sign him, and what we were projecting Billy to do. It was very clear what our team needed. Again, going into 2015, coming off the wild card that year, we still felt like this was a team that could compete for a division title. So all the things that went into the decision, ultimately I will stand by.”

Forst spoke frankly about several other topics during the podcast. Regarding fans’ frustration about seeing so many high-profile players traded:

“I’ve got a stack of letters on my desk, the substance of which I can’t repeat on the air,” he said with a smile. “… But there’s passion. And I know we have a fan base that cares, and that’s really a good place to be.”

Forst said the A’s definitely will pursue starting pitching this offseason, despite the fact that 1) he’s very optimistic about the crop of young pitching Oakland has developed, and 2) he believes Sonny Gray will bounce back from a poor 2016 season. The GM takes encouragement that Gray made a full physical recovery from a strained forearm.

“Am I going to get the Cy Young (caliber pitcher) from Day 1? I don’t know. But I think there’s a confidence that this was an aberration, this whole year, more than anything else.”

Crisp homers as Indians shut out Blue Jays to advance to World Series


Crisp homers as Indians shut out Blue Jays to advance to World Series


TORONTO -- A most unlikely pitching performance helped put a most unexpected team into the World Series.

Rookie Ryan Merritt coolly delivered a lead to the Andrew Miller-led bullpen and the Cleveland Indians won their first pennant since 1997, blanking Toronto 3-0 Wednesday in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series.

Cleveland, which has never hosted a World Series opener, will play Game 1 at Progressive Field on Tuesday night against either the Chicago Cubs or Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Indians will try to boost what's already been a magical year in Cleveland after LeBron James and the Cavaliers earned the city's first sports championship since 1964. The Indians' title drought dates to 1948.

The Dodgers led the Cubs 2-1 going into Game 4 of the NLCS on Wednesday night. Cleveland didn't play either team this season.

With all of 11 major league innings under his belt, Merritt took the mound and looked just like a seasoned vet. The 24-year-old lefty retired the first 10 batters and allowed only two hits before being pulled after 4 1/3 innings.

Then it was up to Cleveland's tireless relievers to hold a three-run lead.

Miller again did most of the heavy lifting, pitching 2 2/3 innings, and Cody Allen pitched the ninth for the save. Winner Bryan Shaw worked an inning before Miller came in.

Carlos Santana and Coco Crisp homered for the Indians.