A's Insider notes: Jackson adjusts to hot corner

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A's Insider notes: Jackson adjusts to hot corner

May 23, 2011A'S PAGE A'SVIDEOPaul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.com

CoJack tested at the hot corner - He had a wry grin on his face when he said it, so he could have been joking. "I could tell you I'm super confidentbut I have to get out there," Conor Jackson said of his first career start at third base, and his fifth-ever appearance there. "I'll just go out there and be super-athletic." He merely needed to be competent. And he was more that that, actually. The Angels tested him early when Erick Aybar dropped a sacrifice bunt in front of him, and Jackson cleanly fielded it and threw him out. Jackson also deftly fielded a sharply-hit short-hop at his ankles and threw out the speedy Reggie Willits in the second. And Jackson survived a collision on the mound with first baseman Daric Barton to catch Mark Trumbo's high pop-up to end the sixth. "It's an opportunity for me," Jackson said, before the game. "I'm not going to shy away from any at-bats." For the past month, Jackson had been working with coach Mike Gallego on his fielding as the outfielder-by-trade has also played first base this season. "It's the same thing, in reverse," quipped A's manager Bob Geren. "Except, you have to throw the ball." Jackson also made two more clean plays in the ill-fated eighth, spearing hot shots from Bobby Abreu and Mark Trumbo for a pair of fielders choice outs.

Kouz improves - Jackson got the start at third because Andy LaRoche started at second, in place of Mark Ellis, who merely got the day off, and Kevin Kouzmanoff was still hindered by his right groin he strained on Saturday. "I thought it was a lot (more) serious at first," he said of the injury, which he incurred trying to beat out a ground ball at AT&T Park. "It was a relief when I woke up the next morning. That's the biggest test - how it feels the next morning." Geren said he was not "ready to use him" Monday night in the opener of the four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels, though Kouzmanoff did take batting practice and some grounders to test it out. He said he was also slowed a month ago by a similar tweak. If he's able to play Tuesday, the A's could definitely use his bat. He is 9-for-28 with three home runs in his career against Dan Haren, who is scheduled to start for the Angels. "Really?" Kouzmanoff said with a quizzical smile when I told him of his past success against Haren.Fuentes demoted? - Yes, and no. You see, it only seems as though Brian Fuentes has been the A's closer, what with his team-high nine saves. "I could use anybody," Geren said. "It's been that way, and everybody knows that." To prove his point, Geren used Fuentes in the eighth inningof a tie game. He walked Aybar, then got Bobby Abreu to hit into a fielders choice before giving way to Michael Wuertz. And oh yeah, Fuentes' man scored so he took the loss to fall to 1-7. Ouch. A day earlier, Fuentes seemed to question management's decision to use him in a non-save situation against the Giants, wondering aloud why the A's would not use fresh arms just called up. "When you're at home and it's a tie game, that's when just about every manager uses his closerthat's normal for a closer," Geren said. "When you're on the road, you don't want to do that unless you're forced to." Geren said he was limited to using either Jerry Blevins, Fautino De Los Santos or Fuentes. He chose Fuentes.
RELATED: Battle of the Bay Podcast -- Fuentes freaks
Moscoso to get the call - The move will not be made official until tomorrow, but, as expected, right-hander Guillermo Moscoso will be called up from triple-A Sacramento to start in place of the injured Tyson Ross. "He's pretty consistently throwing strikes and he's ready to go," Geren said. In eight appearances for the River Cats, including seven starts, Moscoso is 3-2 with a 4.02 ERA. He has 43 strikeouts and 13 walks, but has not gone more than six innings. A corresponding roster move will have to be made as well and the thinking is that reliever Fautino De Los Santos will be shipped back to Sacramento.Blevins DFA'd, but stays on 40-man? - To make room for Josh Outman, the A's designated for assignment Blevins, though announced the left-hander remained on the club's 40-man roster. Wait, what? According to the A's, Blevins was DFA'd "for procedural reasons. He was not optioned immediately because his optional waivers had not been secured at the time of (the) roster move." So, Blevins is expected to head to Sacramento. Got it?

A's spring training Day 8: Top pick AJ Puk attracts a crowd

A's spring training Day 8: Top pick AJ Puk attracts a crowd

MESA, Ariz. — The A’s are excited about 2016 top pick A.J. Puk, that much was apparent by the crowd the lefty attracted for his first “live” bullpen session Tuesday.

Among those watching closely were executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane, general manager David Forst, manager Bob Melvin and pitching coach Curt Young.

Puk, who shaved about 20 pounds off his 6-foot-7 frame over the winter, looked strong against a group of hitters that included touted infield prospects Franklin Barreto and Yairo Munoz.

Melvin in particular liked the way Puk, the No. 6 overall pick out of the University of Florida, worked his curve ball into the mix. That’s a pitch he hadn’t used since high school, but he dusted it off back in the fall instructional league with some encouragement from minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson, and he’s working to sharpen it this spring as a complement to his fastball, slider and changeup.

“It’s just nice to have another pitch that’s slower than my other three pitches,” Puk said before Tuesday’s workout.

“It’s a four-pitch mix,” Melvin said. “He’s really starting to distinguish between this slider and curve ball. It was quite a crowd around his cage too. When you’re a young kid you tend to notice that, but I thought he responded really well.”

Puk, 21, is rooming with shortstop Richie Martin, a teammate at Florida whom the A’s made their top pick in 2015. They also lived near each other in Tampa this offseason and worked out together.

Puk comes off very quiet upon meeting him, but Martin warns against being fooled.

“It takes him a while, but once he feels comfortable he’ll break out. You’ll see.”

Melvin was impressed with Puk’s physical shape, saying he’s fielded his position well in pitchers’ fielding drills.

CAMP BATTLE Jesse Hahn will start the A’s Cactus League opener Saturday against the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs. It’ll be a chance for Hahn to make an early impression in his bid for the fifth starter spot.

“After the year he had (in 2016), it’s important for him this year. We have to show some faith in him,” Melvin said. “He performed well for us the year before. Last year wasn’t really consistent. We’ll try to get him out there and get him off to a good start.”

Kendall Graveman will take the ball in Sunday’s spring home opener against the Angels. Sonny Gray and Sean Manaea both will pitch Monday against the Giants and Jharel Cotton and Andrew Triggs will be among the group throwing Tuesday against the Indians.

PROSPECT WATCH: Sean Murphy, the A’s third-round pick in June, has shown a very strong throwing arm early in camp. Is it any wonder Melvin, an ex-catcher, was impressed?

“The kid can throw, it’s special,” Melvin said. “We really like him.”

NOTEWORTHY: Still no word on when reliever Santiago Casilla will arrive at camp from the Dominican Republic. Melvin said he isn’t concerned at this stage, and noted that Casilla has been working out at the team’s complex in the Dominican Republic and gave a motivational talk to the younger players there.

Cousins thanks Sacramento: 'Wouldn't trade it for anything'

Cousins thanks Sacramento: 'Wouldn't trade it for anything'

The Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, prompting the All-Star big man to post a heartfelt message on his Instagram account.

Words can't even express how hard it is for me to have to leave the city of Sacramento and all of the amazing people that I have met while out here. I gave it my all for you and you gave it right back. The most amazing fans on the planet and I just want you to know that your support has meant everything to me. It's hard to believe that it was seven years ago that this young kid from Alabama showed up in Sacramento scared and not knowing a soul. As I look back upon my time here, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have met so many amazing people, many of whom went out of their way to make me feel right at home from day one. Each and every one of you have played such an important part in my life and helping me become the person I am today. I don't just consider you all as fans, you all are my family...and a couple thousand miles aren't going to change a thing. Thank you Sacramento. 
#LoyaltyisLove #sactownkingforever

Cousins, 26, averaged 27.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.3 blocks and 34.4 minutes per game for the Kings this year.

Words can't even express how hard it is for me to have to leave the city of Sacramento and all of the amazing people that I have met while out here. I gave it my all for you and you gave it right back. The most amazing fans on the planet and I just want you to know that your support has meant everything to me. It's hard to believe that it was seven years ago that this young kid from Alabama showed up in Sacramento scared and not knowing a soul. As I look back upon my time here, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have met so many amazing people, many of whom went out of their way to make me feel right at home from day one. Each and every one of you have played such an important part in my life and helping me become the person I am today. I don't just consider you all as fans, you all are my family...and a couple thousand miles aren't going to change a thing. Thank you Sacramento. #LoyaltyisLove

A post shared by DeMarcus Cousins (@boogiecousins) on