So now the Athletics have only 52 games left to turn into a pumpkin. Clearly, they are cutting this a bit fine.After belt-sanding Los Angeles Tuesday night, the As moved back into a tie for the second wild-card piece, and reminded everyone who knows all the reasons why they wont be there at the end that theres one reason why they will be.Because they dont yet know how not to.Tuesdays 10-4 win over the Angels actually reminded us not so much of the As virtues, however, but the limitations of their opposition. The Angels are short on pitching, the Rangers are shorter still, and the As are, well, the As.We have dissected them as often as can be done since the season turned from blah to yeah, and the answer has always been the same They pitch, they catch, they hit homers, but eventually . . . and the eventually part is at some point going to start irritating the boys.That is, as soon as the national media begins to descend and ask about the eventually part.Tuesdays win, though, was another suggestion that eventually may still be a ways away. Bartolo Colon was wilder than usual, throwing only 77 percent strikes as opposed to his usual 80, but he overmatched the Angels consistently and would be a contender for AL Comeback Player of the Year if they allowed the definition of comeback to extend seven years.But Colon is a lot like the As in that he ranks near the bottom of the American League in quality starts. The As get shut out a lot, and truthfully if they only won half their 13 last at-bat wins, theyd be 11th, and out of the race.But they arent explained by numbers very well. The only team that does less well against the metrics is Baltimore, whose run differential suggests a team that is actually 10 games worse than the Orioles currently are.And therein lies the best thing about the As. They are surrounded by kindred spirits good but limited teams that arent likely to transform themselves into special teams this year. The entire American League is less imposing than normal right now the Rangers are on a pace to win 95 games and have the best record, and 95 has provided the best record only three times in the past 25 years.In short, when we see what the As cant do, we tend to forget all the other teams in the same rickety boat. The As have improved, and the league has moved back toward them, and theres nothing wrong with that if youre an As fan.In short, the As looked vulnerable Monday. Tuesday they looked breathtaking. This is their season, but it is everybodys season. And thats just going to have to do.
MESA, Ariz. — Right-hander Raul Alcantara, who could factor in as a starting or long relief option for the A’s, is experimenting with a split-finger fastball this spring.
Alcantara, who made five late-season starts last season in his first big league call-up, threw the pitch for the first time to hitters Tuesday, so he’s still in the infant stages with it. The A’s would like Alcantara to develop a solid third pitch to go with his fastball and changeup, though he does dabble with a curve and cutter too.
“In general, we’re looking for a ball that’s gonna dive, something where the bottom’s gonna fall out,” Oakland bullpen coach Scott Emerson said.
Alcantara, 24, faces crowded competition for the No. 5 starter spot with Jesse Hahn, Andrew Triggs and Paul Blackburn among those also going for it. Claiming the last spot in a seven-man bullpen is a possibility, though the A’s could surely utilize a second left-hander to go along with Sean Doolittle.
Making Alcantara’s case more interesting is that he’s out of minor league options, meaning he would need to make it through waivers unclaimed before the A’s could send him down.
Alcantara throws a hard changeup that clocked 86-87 miles per hour last season. Ideally, Emerson said his splitter would settle in the low 80’s.
Speaking through interpreter Juan Dorado, Alcantara said he’s gradually getting a feel for the new pitch.
“Obviously it’s a little more difficult on the hitters to know that there’s a different pitch,” he said. “They’re used to me throwing a fastball, a cutter and a change, and now implementing a split would just help me out to show them something different.”
CAMP BATTLE: Lefty Ross Detwiler, who re-signed with Oakland in the winter on a minor league deal, offers depth as a potential swing man who can start or relieve. Detwiler went 2-4 with a 6.14 ERA in nine games (seven starts) last season for the A’s. Those numbers look ugly in a short sample size, but Melvin values the veteran beyond what the stats show.
“I think he liked being here and we wanted him back.”
QUOTABLE: “I must be a little behind this year because the guys are hitting me a little harder than they normally do. Healy took me over the batter’s eye three times in a row.” — Melvin, who throws a couple rounds of batting practice every day.
NOTEWORTHY: The A’s will hold a pair of two-inning intrasquad games Thursday at the Lew Wolff Training Complex, with both set to start at 11:40 a.m.
The San Francisco 49ers Wednesday announced that Tom Gamble is leaving the organization.
“The 49ers organization has tremendous respect and appreciation for Tom Gamble and his many years of service,” said General Manager John Lynch. “He is a class act who has helped a great deal in this transition, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him. After working together over the last month, Tom and I agreed that it would be in both of our best interests for him to pursue other opportunities. Tom is a true professional and we wish him and his family great success in the future.”
“I must thank Jed, the York family and the entire 49ers organization for the wonderful memories they provided me and my family, but it is time I move on,” said Gamble. “This past month, I have had the pleasure of working alongside John Lynch and the talented staff he has assembled. The team is in capable hands and I wish them nothing but the best.”
Gamble, who recently completed his 29th NFL season and 10th with the 49ers, returned to the team in January of 2015 as the senior personnel executive and was later named assistant general manager on July 25, 2016. He spent the 2013-14 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles as vice president of player personnel. Gamble originally joined the 49ers in 2005 and spanned eight seasons with San Francisco including two as the director of player personnel (2011-12). He oversaw both the college and pro personnel efforts of the 49ers. As the 49ers director of pro personnel from 2005-10, Gamble monitored every NFL roster with an emphasis on scouting talent of upcoming pro free agents, while also maintaining continuous depth of personnel on the team’s roster.
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