A's Insider notes: Ellis one hit away from 1,000


A's Insider notes: Ellis one hit away from 1,000

Our A's Insider takes a look at the A's 11-1 loss at the hands of the visiting Minnesota Twins.

All arms on deck: When Tyson Ross left the game after just seven pitches, you knew the A's would have to go to bullpen by committee to finish things out. Sure enough, Oakland needed four relievers - David Purcey, Craig Breslow, Tyler Magnuson and Brad Ziegler - to get through it. You just have to wonder about the collateral damage in who might not be available for the A's in this weekend's Bay Bridge Series at AT&T Park.

NEWS: A's Ross leaves start after seven pitches
Purcey prevails: The left-hander replaced Ross and acquitted himself well in throwing 66 pitches and being charged with one run in 3 23 innings, despite coming out of the bullpen ice cold. His previous high pitch-count? A whopping 22 pitches. He's going to need a day or two. But he also deserves it.Poor Magnuson: The A's rookie, who made his big league debut in the rain against the Angels on Tuesday, had a nightmare inning in the eighth, after a perfect seventh. Magnuson gave up six runs on five hits, including a titanic three-run blast to Trevor Plouffe. Common sense dictated Magnuson be pulled, but really, why burn another pitcher?Speaking of Magnuson and, um, Joey Devine: The right-hander told reporters after the game he was being sent back to triple-A Sacramento. Makes sense, since he has plenty of options, was just lit up by big league hitters and he would not be available against the Giants. The A's need bullpen depth - badly - this weekend. So who's it going to be? I would not be shocked to see right-hander Joey Devine back with the A's. In 11 appearances, over 12 13 innings, Devine has yet to allow an earned run while giving up four hits, striking out 17 and walking one. Devine, as you know, last pitched in the bigs in 2008 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
RECAP: A's lose Ross, swept in short series by Twins
Call it, 999 and counting: Mark Ellis was this close to getting his 1,000th career hit in the ninth inning. But his screamer down the third-base line was deftly backhanded by Danny Valencia, who then threw to first for the game's final out.Ross re-visited: According to A's historian David Feldman, Ross is only the fourth starting pitcher since 1970 - the first since 1995 - to face just one batter and get the loss. He is also the first A's pitcher in franchise history to record such a dubious feat.

Chip Kelly: 'Zero distraction' from Colin Kaepernick last season

Chip Kelly: 'Zero distraction' from Colin Kaepernick last season

Former 49ers head coach Chip Kelly was front and center last season with the controversy that surrounded quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the 2016 season. 

Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem as a stance against racial injustice in the United States. The former 49ers quarterback first sat while the anthem played in a preseason game and then decided to kneel throughout the regular season. 

“There was zero distraction," Kelly said to the Monday Morning Quarterback. "He met with the team immediately after [his first protest]. He met with the other team leaders. He explained his position and where he was coming from." 

After Kaepernick met with his teammates, Kelly saw one focus in his signal caller -- football only. 

"Literally, that was it. Colin was focused on football. He was all about the team and trying to help us win," Kelly said. 

Kaepernick is currently a free agent after opting out of his contract this offseason. Kelly believes Kaepernick is still plenty capable of leading an NFL team. 

"Do I think he is one of the top 64 quarterbacks in the world? There is no question. Does he have the ability to play quarterback on a winning team in the NFL? There is no question," Kelly said. 

In 2016, Kaepernick played in 12 games for Kelly, starting 11 of them under center. He threw for 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. On the ground, Kaepernick added 468 yards rushing and two more scores. 

Giants Notes: Marrero gets big chance; Rollins goes home

Giants Notes: Marrero gets big chance; Rollins goes home

SAN FRANCISCO -- After more than six weeks in the desert the Giants returned to their chilly home park on Thursday, and manager Bruce Bochy wasn't ready to take some of the mystery out of heated spring races. 

Bochy said he knows who his fifth starter is, but he won't publicly announce it until Friday. Asked about the situation, general manager Bobby Evans offered only that "we're in the same camp" on who that player is. 

In the outfield, it appears Chris Marrero is a near-lock to make the roster after an eight-homer spring, but again, the Giants aren't ready to announce anything. Marrero gets another chance to prove himself Thursday. He's facing a lefty starter, which would be his role, and he's playing left field at AT&T Park for the first time. Is Bochy more interested in the defense or the at-bats against a lefty?

"Both," he said. "I want to take a look at Marrero in left field and see his at-bats. It's not so much the results, but just to see him here on this stage and in this ballpark."

Bochy was behind the cage when Marrero took BP, and while it is only BP, he put on a Madison Bumgarner-like show. 

Bochy also hopes to get Jae-Gyun Hwang into left field one of the next two nights. Hwang is headed for Triple-A when this series is over, where he'll play first, third and left. "If he continues (hitting like this) down in Sacramento, with that bat, you've got to find a spot for him," Bochy said. 

Sense a theme here? Somebody who hits from the right side is going to get a lot of time this year, and while Mac Williamson and Michael Morse are hurt, the two newcomers have a chance to make a statement. Justin Ruggiano is still in the mix, too, although it sounds like he's headed for Triple-A to get 50 or so at-bats to strengthen his shoulder. 

--- Will Smith had Tommy John surgery in Los Angeles yesterday. The procedure went without surprises, and the initial read from doctors is that Smith should be back in the big leagues next May. This far out, it's hard to be exact, though. 

--- Eduardo Nuñez said his shoulder feels great after a couple of late-camp cortisone shots and he'll start at third the next two nights. Nuñez will play four or five innings at shortstop on Saturday. If Kelby Tomlinson is optioned, Nuñez would be the backup to Brandon Crawford, along with starting at third. 

--- Jimmy Rollins was given the option of coming up here for this series and finishing his spring in Oakland, near his home. Rollins was told he would not make the team. He went back to the Tampa area, however, and he won't play in this series. 

--- Tyler Beede was out on the field early taking photos and soaking it in. Beede hasn't been to AT&T Park since shooting a cameo for "Silicon Valley." The Giants will start him Saturday, with the idea that it should knock some nerves off for his eventual debut. Beede will be joined by a bunch of minor leaguers, including Christian Arroyo, Ryder Jones, Reyes Moronta, Kyle Crick and Austin Slater. Steven Duggar would have been here, but he has a flexor injury and will miss the start of the season. 

--- Brandon Belt will hit second at the start of the year, Bochy said. Belt walked into the park with Santiago Casilla, which threw everyone off in the hallway leading up to the clubhouse. Casilla eventually kept going, all the way to the visitor's clubhouse. I talked to him briefly, and he said that it'll be a weird series for him. Casilla will pitch an inning Friday night. He deserves a big ovation.

--- Javier Lopez was my latest podcast guest. You can stream it here or download it on iTunes here. If you like the podcast, please consider leaving a rating! 

--- Finally, as part of our rebranding, my Twitter account has changed. It's still the same account, just a new name. The tweets about reliever at-bats are not going anywhere.