A's Insider notebook: Ross' rockets turning heads

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A's Insider notebook: Ross' rockets turning heads

Feb. 22, 20111
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PHOENIX -- Injuries are an unwelcome reality of spring training, but when they come they're frequently shrugged off with reminders that "it's early," and that a camp injury is far superior to one suffered in the regular season.A's reliever Michael Wuertz, held out of workouts because of his sore right shoulder, was singing that very tune Tuesday -- but he'd re-arrange the notes.Icing his ailing wing as his teammates poured out of the Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Wuertz spoke excitedly -- well, for Weurtz, "excited" means with discernible facial expressions -- about the new course of action the A's are taking in their treatment of what he said is an annual issue.Last year, Wuertz explained, he tried to push through the pain, which typically dissipates late in the spring. That approach didn't work so well; the shoulder issue lingered, and Wuertz was never quite the same shutdown setup man he'd been the previous season.This year, Wuertz has been told by new head athletic trainer Nick Paparesta to simply shut it down for a spell.Duh, right? Seems more like a dose of common sense than expert medical advice. Wuertz conceded as much, adding with a smile that one might be surprised by some of the training theories he's seen and heard over seven seasons in The Show.Pararesta, however, has quickly earned the respect of Oakland's players, many of whom have been hammered by injuries over the past four years."The guys knows how to keep guys on the field," closer Andrew Bailey offered. "He's proactive. He's organized. He's always got a plan, a clear plan that you understand. He's been awesome."ROCKET ROSS
Although Josh Outman's recent bullpen sessions have created quite a buzz, one of Outman's fellow candidates for the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation has been opening some eyes, too.Tyson Ross, a former Cal and Team USA star who opened last season in the A's bullpen, command the attention of anyone within earshot during his side session Monday."I wasn't even there, but I heard about it," said catcher Kurt Suzuki. "He was blowing, like, 97-98 mph."Ross, whose upright delivery has prompted more than a few scouts to suggest arm trouble might be in his future, appears to be making slightly better use of his lower half this spring, and the results have been impressive."He's got a huge arm," Suzuki said. "He's going to be a big leaguer for a long time once he gets up here for good."CAHILL GETS THE NOD
To the surprise of nobody, A's manager Bob Geren on Tuesday announced that his Opening Day starter will be Trevor Cahill. Opening Day for Cactus League play, that is. The A's travel to nearby Mesa to take on the Cubs on Sunday, and Cahill will get the ball first at venerable HoHoKam Park.It keeps him on his one-on, two-off throwing schedule, and it keeps him in line to be Oakland's starter on Opening Day of the regular season.Geren isn't likely to announce his starting rotation for a while, but as former pitching coach Curt Young used to say at the start of every spring, anyone with handle on basic math should be able to figure it out pretty quick.The numbers point to Cahill, with lefty Dallas Braden in the No. 2 spot. Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez are throwing on the same day thus far.SHARING TIME
A common sight during the team's workout at their minor-league complex at Papago Park was that of hitters talking with pitchers and amongst each other, offering feedback and other information during live batting practice.Daric Barton, for instance, gave newcomer David DeJesus a quick mental cheat sheet before DeJesus stepped into the box against Braden. Later, Barton explained to Braden exactly how his ball was moving and when."That's actually one of the neater things about this environment," Geren said of spring training. "You see everyone just talking baseball, and really getting into it. It's a great thing to see as a manager, because players a lot of times see things that maybe the coaches don't or can't."

Mengden knocked out early in return, A's fall in Cleveland

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USATSI

Mengden knocked out early in return, A's fall in Cleveland

BOX SCORE

In his first start major-league start of 2017, Daniel Mengden couldn't make it out of the fourth inning as Cleveland beat the A's 5-3 Monday.

In just 3.1 innings, Mengden allowed seven hits, five earned runs, one walk and struck out one.

The A's got solo home runs from Yonder Alonso, Ryon Healy and Khris Davis.

Punches thrown, epic brawl ensues after Strickland hits Harper with pitch

Punches thrown, epic brawl ensues after Strickland hits Harper with pitch

SAN FRANCISCO — Pitchers never forget, and Bryce Harper didn’t either. Three years after Harper took Strickland deep in the NLDS and the two exchanged words, Strickland drilled Harper, setting off a wild, legitimate fight on the mound. 

Harper charged Strickland and tried to throw his helmet before the two started throwing haymakers. A wild brawl ensued, and Strickland had to be dragged off the field by three teammates. Both players were ejected. 

Harper came up with two outs and the Giants trailing by a pair in the eighth. The first pitch was a 98 mph heat-seaker right at Harper’s hip. Harper pointed his bat at Strickland and then tossed it down. Strickland dropped his glove and then Harper threw his helmet, which ended up going toward second base. Each player got at least one good shot in before they were swallowed up by a dogpile. 

Jeff Samardzija — coming from the bench — collided with Michael Morse, who was coming from first. Both appeared to be fine.

Harper and Strickland first crossed paths in the 2014 NLDS, when Harper homered off Strickland in Game 1 and then hit a 97 mph fastball into McCovey Cove to tie Game 4. He watched it fly and the two stared at each other as Harper rounded second. When he reached the dugout, he turned back toward the field and screamed at Strickland.