Nakajima deal official, Cowgill sent to Mets


Nakajima deal official, Cowgill sent to Mets

OAKLAND -- It's official. The Oakland Athletics have announced the signing of Hiroyuki Nakajima. As previously reported, the Japanese-born shortstop will be introduced to the media in Oakland at 2 p.m. and you can see it right here on or Comcast SportsNet California.

The eight-time Nippon Professional Baseball All-Star was signed to a two-year deal with a club option for a third season. He is expected to be the A's starting shortstop, replacing Stephen Drew, who agreed to sign with the Boston Red Sox. Nakajima, 30, hit .311 with 13 home runs, 74 RBI, 52 walks, and a .382 on-base percentage in 136 games in Japan last season.

To make room on the 40-man roster the A's have traded outfielder Collin Cowgill to the New York Mets for minor league third baseman Jefry Marte. Once regarded as one of the Mets' top prospects in 2009, Marte struggled in 2010 and 2011. The 21-year-old native of the Dominican Republic hit .251 with 20 doubles, three triples, nine homers, and 58 RBI in 129 games for Double-A Birmingham in 2012. He was named an Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star last season. 

Cowgill was originally acquired prior to the 2012 season from Arizona as part of the trade that sent Trevor Cahill to the Diamondbacks. He played 28 games with Oakland and hit .269 with one homer and nine RBI.

His most memorable A's moments both came against the Giants. On May 20 in San Francisco, he took out Tim Lincecum at the plate with a head-first slide that led to a 6-2 A's win. On June 22, he injured his ankle diving for a ball hit to left field by Brandon Belt in the ninth inning that ended up giving the Giants a 5-4 victory.

Cowgill, 26, spent most of the season in Triple-A Sacramento, and would have had a tough time cracking the A's roster with outfielders Chris Young, Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick, Coco Crisp, and Seth Smith set to battle for playing time in Oakland.

A's coach plays part in Schwarber's World Series comeback

A's coach plays part in Schwarber's World Series comeback

Ryan Christenson has a reason to follow the World Series even more so than most years.

Christenson, who manages the A’s Double-A Midland squad, is also skippering the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League. One of his players happened to be Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber, if only for the briefest of periods.

Schwarber, as is well-documented, played in two AFL games as a quick tune-up before joining the Cubs’ active roster for the Fall Classic. It’s an unprecedented path, as Schwarber hadn’t appeared in a game for Chicago since April 7, when he tore the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his left knee.

When he crushed a double off the right field wall in Game 1 against the Indians’ Corey Kluber, Schwarber became the first position player in major league history to get a hit in the World Series after recording zero hits during the regular season.

His preparations for the grand stage took place in the relative anonymity of the Arizona Fall League, and it presented some unique conditions for Christenson to manage under.

“It’s such a unique situation to see someone thrust into that after missing so much season,” Christenson said in a phone interview before Game 1. “To have a chance to be activated this time of year, it’s something special if he can pull this off. If he (sparks the Cubs), literally the guy can be a legend.”

Schwarber appeared in just two games for the Solar Sox, going 1-for-6 as a designated hitter. Christenson didn’t have much hands-on interaction with Schwarber — the Cubs had their own staff members on site helping him with treatment — but Christenson saw Schwarber’s swing rounding into form even in his brief time in the batter’s box.

“The bat speed is there,” said Christenson, who hadn’t met Schwarber previously. “I love watching him work in the cage. He’s got a great swing. I don’t think it would take someone of his caliber long to get his timing and pick up where he left off. It’s a simple swing.”

The Cubs asked Christenson to work Schwarber into the top of the batting order with the Solar Sox so as to maximize his number of plate appearances. They also asked one other favor.

“The only request they had was that I took it easy with him on the bases … not trying to score him from first base on a gapper.”

Schwarber’s mere presence in the Arizona Fall League created a delicate dynamic. The league is geared toward up-and-coming prospects who have yet to break into the majors, and Christenson said AFL officials were concerned about Schwarber dropping in and taking playing time away from those players.

Each major league organization sends at least six players to the AFL. Of those six, one is designated a “priority player,” meaning they must play at least four days a week, so innings can be tricky to spread around.

Adding to the sensitivity of the situation, the Solar Sox’s roster includes not only Cubs prospects but also those of the Cleveland Indians. Christenson needed to avoid a situation where Schwarber was stealing at-bats away from prospects of the American League champs — the team that Schwarber was training to try to help the Cubs beat.

But things unfolded smoothly, and Schwarber showed appreciation for getting the chance to drop in for a couple games.

“I’ll definitely be pulling for him,” Christenson said.

A's claim left-handed reliever off waivers from Cubs

A's claim left-handed reliever off waivers from Cubs

CLEVELAND — Left-hander Giovanni Soto has been claimed by the Oakland Athletics off waivers from the Chicago Cubs.

Soto was designated for assignment Saturday to open a spot on the 40-man roster for slugger Kyle Schwarber, who was activated from the 60-day disabled list following knee surgery in April. Schwarber was put on the World Series roster Tuesday and went 1 for 3 with a double, walk and two strikeouts in the opening 6-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians.

Soto was traded to the Cubs from Cleveland on April 11 and was 1-3 with a 5.14 ERA in 33 relief appearances for Triple-A Iowa. He made his big league debut with the Indians in 2015 and appeared in six games and 3 1/3 innings.

Oakland claimed him Wednesday.