Notes: Verlander's strike zone, McCarthy still an option?


Notes: Verlander's strike zone, McCarthy still an option?

OAKLAND -- With the Oakland Athletics in win-or-go-home mode it is still business as usual at the Oakland Coliseum. For the third day in a row A's manager Bob Melvin met with a select few daily beat writers in the clubhouse after his press conference. Why is this news? Because for the third day in a row he stood in the exact same spot in the hallway, and so did we the media. Melvin is a man that never hides his superstitious nature. The A's may need all the supernatural assistance they can get. Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander is 3-0 against the A's this season. He has only allowed two runs in his three starts against the A's this season. Six years ago today, Verlander started Game 4 of the American League Championship Series as the Tigers swept the A's. So how do the A's beat Verlander? "One of the things you try and do is drive his pitch count up," Melvin said. "Sometimes it's tough to do. And a lot of times he is out there for 130 pitches."In Verlander's three starts against the A's he has never gone past the seventh inning. He has thrown 121, 122, and 104 pitches in those starts, so they have been able to work his count up and get him out of the game. One key factor will be the strike zone. Verlander is the reigning American League MVP and Cy Young award-winner so he tends to get a favorable strike zone. In Game 1 the A's hitters looked to be a bit frustrated with some of the called strikes home plate umpire Jim Reynolds awarded Verlander. In Game 5 it will be Wally Bell behind home plate. "I think there's always the reputation involved," Melvin said of Verlander's strike zone. "I'd rather be on the other end of that where we felt like we got some. I'm not going to say it was significantly different but it's something you have to be aware of."Either way, Melvin says he is hopeful the strike zone gets established early. The A's have some advantages of their own in Game 5. The sellout crowd at the Oakland Coliseum has been a factor for the A's in this series and that won't be changing. "I was having a tough time communicating with my coaches in the ninth inning it was so loud," Melvin said. With the series evened up at two games a piece this series is tough to call. "We're at home, they have their ace on the mound, we have a guy that we are very comfortable with too, he's pitched very well for us this year," Melvin said. "It's like a pretty even draw at this point. Our fans are definitely a plus for us and we feel it." Jarrod Parker went six and one-third innings in Game 1. He allowed three runs on seven hits. He will become the youngest pitcher in 15 years to start in a deciding game. The A's already set a Major League record by starting three rookie starting pitchers in this series. The A's young pitching staff has held its own against a tough Detroit lineup. They have 30 strikeouts in this series and have issued just five walks. A's starting pitchers are 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA and .244 opponents batting average in this series. Injury UpdatesBrett Anderson said he felt his right oblique pulling a little bit during his Game 3 start. He threw a bullpen on Thursday. If the A's advance to the ALCS he will be on track to pitch. "From what I heard I think he feels pretty good," Melvin said. "Yesterday it was a little sore which you can understand and today it was much better." Jordan Norberto has thrown from 120 feet but has yet to throw from a mound. "It would be tough to consider him an option no matter where we go at this point," Melvin said. Brandon McCarthy is throwing from 120 feet. He has yet to return to a mound. He is working very hard to make a return to the rotation a possibility if the A's can make it to the World Series. "I'd hate to rule anything out as far as that goes because he is trying so hard to get back," Melvin said. "Until he gets on a mound we are not sure."McCarthy's return would be of miraculous nature. On September 7, his situation was described as "life threatening" by athletics trainer Nick Paparesta. McCarthy underwent brain surgery after getting hit in the head by a line drive on September 5. "He'd have to get off a mound," Melvin said. "We'd potentially have to get him some hitters. There's a ways to go but I am certainly not going to be the guy that's going to says there's no way."

Report: Rangers bring back Gomez on one-year deal

Report: Rangers bring back Gomez on one-year deal

OXON HILL, Md. -- Outfielder Carlos Gomez has agreed to an $11.5 million, one-year contract to remain with the Texas Rangers, according to two people familiar with the negotiations.

The people spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the agreement was subject to a physical and had not been announced.

Gomez, who turned 31 last weekend, figures to play center field in an outfield that includes Shin-Soo Choo in right and Nomar Mazara in left.

He was released by Houston in August, signed with Texas and hit .284 with eight homers and 24 RBIs in 33 games. An All-Star in 2013 and '14 with Milwaukee, Gomez has a .257 average and 116 home runs in 10 big league seasons.

Gomez batted just .210 with five homers in 85 games this year for the Astros.

With the agreement, Texas is not likely to keep outfielder Ian Desmond, who also became a free agent.

Arrhythmic poetry to Bill King making Hall of Fame posthumously

Arrhythmic poetry to Bill King making Hall of Fame posthumously

Bill King would have found his entrance into the Baseball Hall of Fame for winning the Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in baseball broadcasting a satisfying but indisputably odd thing for him to receive 11 years after his death. He would have said, and I can guarantee this, “Well, my work must have dramatically improved in the last few years.”

And Hank Greenwald, Lon Simmons, Greg Papa and all his other broadcast partners would have laughed and nodded. King knew he was good and didn’t mind being recognized for it, but he wouldn’t miss the weird touch of being hailed for it after his passing.

Nor would he have missed the amusing notion that he won the award in his ninth time as a finalist. The A’s teams whose exploits he described for a quarter-century reached the postseason nine times but won the big only once, in 1989.

But there is an arrhythmic poetry in the notion that King’s final recognition went this way rather than while he was alive. The nation caught on to him late, if at all, and while he was the voice of all things Bay Area sports for 43 years between the Warriors, Raiders and A’s, he was happily non-telegenic, and thoroughly content with living outside the troika of national broadcasting circles (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago) of the time.

He did want to be thought of as he is today by a larger audience, because he was a man with a healthy respect for his own talent and work ethic, but he knew the deal when he took it, and he took it happily. He was allowed to be himself by three separate owners (which is three over the current national average, given that broadcasters are now given a daily party line that must be adhered to), and he took full advantage. Talent gets you that kind of freedom, and obstinacy in the face of control allows you to use it fearlessly.

And now it’s been noticed, ironically enough in the sport most people thought was his third best. The NBA’s Curt Gowdy Award, given since 1990, includes many of his contemporaries (Chick Hearn, Johnny Most, Al McCoy, Joe Tait, Bill Schonely, et. al.) but not him, and the NFL’s Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award, given since 1989, is almost exclusively reserved for network TV announcers, though some of King’s radio compatriots (Buffalo’s Van Miller and Pittsburgh’s Myron Cope) have also won.

But baseball embraced the Internet vote first, and King got consistent support from Bay Area fans who kept his name alive through a number of failed attempts when the voting was done by the public; he won under a new system in which winners are selected by a 17-person panel, which many people thought was not his best constituency.

If King were alive and still active, he would have been properly appreciative, though one should not have been surprised had he pulled a Bob Dylan with the Nobel Prize people and skipped the induction ceremony next July: “Thanks for the award, but I’ll have been in New York the week before and I'm taking that weekend off to sit on the boat. Give (Hall of Fame director) Jeff Idelson a ‘Holy Toledo!’ for me, and pass that bottle over here.”

It’s how we would want him to want it, anyway.