A's Insider notes: Pennington plays savior for A's

A's Insider notes: Pennington plays savior for A's

May 8, 2011
GUTIERREZ ARCHIVEA'S PAGE A'SVIDEO

Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.com
Our A's Insider takes a look at Oakland's 5-2 win over the Royals in Kansas City to take the first three on this road trip.

A heads-up Penny - Shortstop Cliff Pennington put a fast end to the sixth inning with a quick-thinking play and nearly saved a run in the process. On Mitch Maier's two-out single to right field, with runners at first and second, Pennington alertly cut off David DeJesus' throw and dived at an over-running Wilson Betemit at second base. He tagged him out to end the inning, a split-second after Eric Hosmer slid across home plate for the Royals' second run of the day. Pennington's tag ended the threat, the inning and was thisclose to costing Kansas City a run. The Royals had cut the A's lead to 3-2 on the play.Coco steps up - It is obvious that Coco Crisp's quad muscle is still hindering him, as evidenced by his dragging his leg. But if the A's dynamic lead off-hitting, center field-playing sparkplug has lost a step, it was one that many others in the game do not possess. He came up huge with a running basket catch of Chris Getz's fly ball in right-center in the seventh inning. Then, flipped to the right side by a left-handed reliever in the eighth, Crisp greeted Tim Collins with a two-out single up the middle on the first pitch he saw to score Mark Ellis and give the A's an insurance run.Suzuki smiles - Yes, it was Mother's Day, not Father's Day, but Kurt Suzuki continued his power surge since the birth of his daughter on April 26. His ninth-inning solo home run with two out and on a full count was his fourth long ball of the season, his third since Malia Suzuki arrived. He also has seven RBI in that span.CoJack just fine, thank you - Two days after a scary-looking collision at first base to end the A's series-opening victory, Conor Jackson was back in the lineup and producing. Jackson had three hits in his first three at-bats and drove in the A's first run with a single to right in the first inning.Pitchers own worst enemies? - The A's defense cost their pitchers in April but the pitchers themselves have made things tough on themselves of late. As pointed out by A's radio announcer Vince Cotroneo, all five of the A's errors in May have been committed by (drum roll, please) pitchers.
-- Paul Gutierrez

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