Gutierrez: New faces in new places pace A's win

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Gutierrez: New faces in new places pace A's win

June 10, 2011GUTIERREZ ARCHIVE
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Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.comAnd now, playing the role of Fantasy Island's Mr. Roarke, new A's interim manager Bob Melvin.Smiles, everyone. Smiles.Or did you not catch the shot of the A's congratulating themselves after their most satisfying victory of the season? Smiles, indeed..GUTIERREZ: A's Insider gallery -- Smiles all around in Chicago
And a huge sigh of relief. Are you ready for this nugget, courtesy of A's historian David Feldman? The A's became the first team since 1900 to snap a losing streak of 10 or more games by winning a game after trailing by two-or-more runs with two out and no one on base in their last at-bat.Facing an 0-and-2 count with two out in the ninth inning, the A's entire team deserves credit for the spirit-lifting comeback victory. The spotlight, though, deserves to shine on three of the new guys, and an older guy batting in a new spot in the lineup.- "Moonlight" Graham Godfrey was shaky at first, giving up a two-out, two-run home run to Paul Konerko before loading the bases and escaping further damage. He was charged with three more runs in the fifth inning and only went 4 13 innings, but the rookie right-hander, making his major league debut, kept things from spiraling totally out of control. He battled after his 36-pitch first inning.- Jemile Weeks showed every dimension of his exciting game. His defense was showcased on a bare-handed pick-up of a grounder up the middle and cross-body throw out of Carlos Quentin in the second. The pop in his bat was exhibited in his third-inning triple. And his wheels were on display when he beat out an infield single in the fourth.- Scott Sizemore had the game-winning hit, meeting White Sox closer Sergio Santos' 95-mph heater on 1-and-0 head on and driving it to the left-center wall for a bases-clearing double. It was Sizemore's third hit of the night.- Cliff Pennington looks a lot more comfortable in the No. 2 hole than he ever did hitting ninth. Al he did was go three for five with a pair of doubles and two runs scored. To be fair, the fired Bob Geren toyed with the idea of moving Pennington here, but it was Melvin who puled the trigger.

Madson focused on his pitching, not his role in A's bullpen

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Madson focused on his pitching, not his role in A's bullpen

MESA, Ariz. — Ryan Madson goes about his business getting ready for the season, without much clarity on what his bullpen role will be and hardly wringing his hands over the mystery.

A’s manager Bob Melvin has four veteran relievers with closer experience to choose from to be his ninth-inning man. He said Saturday morning he likely won’t announce that decision until the Bay Bridge Series that leads into Opening Day.

Madson, who rang up 30 saves as Oakland’s primary closer last season, prepares the same during the spring regardless of what inning he might pitch. He sees the numerous closer options as being a benefit for whoever ultimately gets picked for the ninth.

“If I’m doing it and I don’t get it done, there’s guys that will,” Madson said. “It’s not just a one-man show, so that takes the pressure off actually. People would think maybe it adds pressure — you gotta do good so you can have it. To me, it does the exact opposite. That helps me, knowing the more guys you’ve got that can do the job, the easier that job becomes.”

It wouldn’t be a shock if Melvin goes with the 36-year-old Madson as closer to begin the season. He’s the incumbent, and, though he had a 7.50 spring ERA before throwing a scoreless inning Saturday, no one among the trio of John Axford, Santiago Casilla and Sean Doolittle has made an emphatic statement for the job with their Cactus League performance. Axford’s 5.06 ERA is the lowest of those four.

From his comments so far this spring, Melvin seems inclined to use Ryan Dull as an escape artist to enter with men on base, a situation that he excelled in last season.

Regardless of how Melvin lines up his bullpen for the regular season, he’s said that he’s likely to utilize multiple guys in save situations depending on who’s available and who needs rest on a given day.

At this time last year, Madson was assumed to be the eighth-inning setup man with Doolittle handling closer duties. Melvin wound up flip-flopping them for the start of the regular season, and Madson got off to a strong start and remained the closer for most of the year. In his first extended ninth-inning duty since 2011, he notched his second 30-save season but also had seven blown saves, tied for second most in the American League.

“The emotions are different” in the ninth inning, Madson said. “They’re heightened, and so I had to adjust that way. … As long as I can navigate those emotions and put them in the right place, I usually do well when I can do that.”

Entering the second year of a three-year $22 million contract, Madson said he likes the way he’s rounding into form on the mound despite less-than-glittering numbers.

“When I have good angle on the ball, good deception and good movement, then I get outs and I get ground balls,” he said. “I get strikeouts with the changeup. So if I focus on that, everything else falls in where it needs to.”

Cueto toys with young prospect in Giants minor league game

Cueto toys with young prospect in Giants minor league game

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — There is no way to really ramp up the intensity when an All-Star pitcher makes an appearance in minor league camp, so Johnny Cueto instead found a way to have a bit more fun. 

While getting his work in against A-ball hitters, Cueto had a prolonged, smile-filled battle with 19-year-old Jasrado Chisholm, one of the Diamondbacks’ top prospects. The sequence between Cueto and the shortstop from the Bahamas: 

  • Cueto just missed with a two-strike inside fastball, so he went right back to the same spot, freezing Chisholm, who smiled and nodded at Cueto, who laughed back. 
  • The next time up, Chisholm took two vicious hacks, trying to crank a homer onto Hayden Road. He missed both breaking balls by about a foot. 
  •  Before the third pitch, Cueto yelled something at Chisholm and smiled. “I was telling him to keep his eye on the ball,” Cueto said. “Because every time he was swinging, he was taking his eye off the ball.”
  •  The advice worked. Chisholm hung in on the third pitch, lining a single to left-center. Cueto laughed and pointed his glove at the teenager. He promptly picked him off of first base. “He probably doesn’t know I have a quick move,” he said. “I was having fun with a kid who wanted to actually hit against me.”

Nobody has more fun than Cueto, even on a sun-baked minor league field. He capped his day by standing in for an at-bat of his own, and he stood and watched as a young Diamondback struck him out.

The work on the mound was just what was needed: 7 innings, 85 pitches, 10 strikeouts, 0 runs. Cueto, who missed the opening weeks of camp, is ready for the season.

“I feel strong,” he said. “I feel really good."