Cespedes sizzles in Sacramento

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Cespedes sizzles in Sacramento

SACRAMENTO -- Yoenis Cespedes' stat line tonight doesn't accurately represent how he looked at the plate. Officially he went 2 for 4. His two hits were hard-hit singles. His biggest hit, wasn't a hit at all though -- based on a strange call by the umpires. On the play in question, Cespedes smacked a screaming liner to the left field wall, but was called out at second base, because he allegedly didn't touch first base. Replays in the press box clearly showed that he touched the bag."He swinging the bat pretty good," manager Darren Bush said. "He went to all fields. He went to right, he went to left, he swung the bat really well."While the 8,729 announced fans in attendance got to see Cespedes in action, they didn't get to see Manny Ramirez. Ramirez concluded his 50-game suspension, and 10-game rehab stint Tuesday, as a result he couldn't play or be with the team during the game. Ramirez did spend the afternoon working out with the River Cats though. He will be back in action Wednesday, when the River Cats will put him on their 25-man roster.At The PlateFirst InningCespedes stepped to the plate with the bases empty, and one out. He popped up to the second baseman who was ranging toward the foul line in shallow right field.Third InningCespedes pulled a single between the third baseman and shortstop. Then with Michael Taylor batting he broke for second base. He would have had the base stolen, but Taylor cracked a single right past Cespedes, who advanced to third. Cespedes scored when Chris Carter hit a sacrifice fly to left.Fifth InningThis is how Cespedes' at-bat in the fifth reads on the gamecast: "Yoenis Cespedes grounds out. Pitcher Eric Hacker to first baseman Todd Linden."Here is what really happened: Cespedes crushed a line drive to the left field wall for a double. The Grizzlies complained to the umpires claiming that Cespedes didn't touch the first base bag. We looked at reviews in the press box and it appeared that he did indeed tough the bag. Either way, what matters most is that he made very solid contact on the ball.Seventh InningCespedes singled to right field with Luke Hughes on first. Hughes got thrown out trying to advance to third though. Cespedes looks locked in at the plate. He is hitting balls to both left and right field with decent contact.In The FieldCespedes played nine innings in left field. He didn't have one ball hit his direction.

A's spring training Day 13: Gossett part of fifth starter mix

A's spring training Day 13: Gossett part of fifth starter mix

MESA, Ariz. — An unexpected opportunity came Daniel Gossett’s way Sunday, and the young right-hander took it in stride.

When the A’s adjusted their starting rotation, Kendall Graveman got bumped to Monday and Gossett learned he’d be taking the ball to start Sunday’s Cactus League home opener against the Los Angeles Angels.

“I’m here for what they need me for,” Gossett said. “So anything they need, gimme the ball.”

He spun two scoreless innings in a game Oakland lost 5-3 at Hohokam Stadium. A nice first impression for Gossett, indeed, but the truth is A’s officials were already quite familiar with him.

A second-round pick out of Clemson in 2014, Gossett impressed at three levels of the farm system in 2016, beginning the year with Single-A Stockton and finishing it with Triple-A Nashville.

This is his first big league camp, and manager Bob Melvin even mentioned Gossett as being part of the fifth starter conversation.

“He impressed everybody in the organization last year, so when talking about that fifth spot, who knows?” Melvin said before the game.

The only blemishes on Gossett’s day were the pair of walks he issued. After walking Jefrey Marte to lead off the second, he got a lift from his catcher, as Josh Phegley fired a strike to second to nail Marte trying to steal.

“A pitcher’s best friend, I guess,” Gossett said. He went 10-6 with a 2.69 ERA across 27 starts at all three levels of the minors last year, and his 151 strikeouts led the A’s farm system. Gossett’s fastball ranges anywhere from 90-95 on the gun. He throws a changeup that gets the most swings and misses, plus a slider and curve.

Grady Fuson, an A’s special assistant to the general manager, liked the adjustments he saw with Gossett over the course of last season.

“He’s a super kid, a grinder,” Fuson said over the winter. “He’s a guy that hadn’t struck many guys out and had been very hittable in the strike zone. (In 2016), he started executing to different parts of the zone that limits the hard contact.”

CAMP BATTLE: Alejandro De Aza sparked the A’s first rally in the third Sunday with a triple, then scored on Mark Canha’s double. With Jake Smolinski sidelined currently by a shoulder issue, it’s a good time for De Aza, a non-roster invitee to camp, to make his mark. The door could be open for him to make a push to make the roster as a fifth outfielder.

“He’s an interesting guy,” Melvin said of the nine-year veteran. “He knows how to play the game, he can play all three outfield spots. We’ve seen him before when he’s given us trouble, too, with the White Sox.”

Another contender for a reserve outfield spot is Jaycob Brugman, who has yet to crack the majors but is already on the 40-man roster. He singled home a run in the seventh. Like De Aza and Smolinski, Brugman can play center field, and it stands to reason the A’s will want to carry someone who can back up Rajai Davis at that position.

NOTEWORTHY: Phegley admitted to some butterflies before getting behind the plate for his first game since July, when a right knee injury wiped out the rest of his season.

But he looked good springing up to nail Marte on the second-inning steal attempt. The A’s are counting on Phegley returning to his role as the right-handed hitting platoon partner with Stephen Vogt behind the plate.

STOCK RISING: Melvin was impressed, and entertained, by the first look he got at reliever Simon Castro on Saturday against the Chicago Cubs. Castro retired Kris Bryant to strand a runner at third, the only hitter he faced. But it was what happened before the at-bat that caught Melvin’s attention.

“When he came to the mound he was pretty vocal,” Melvin noted. “He was fired up, telling the guys ‘Let’s go!’ I haven’t heard that too many times out of pitchers, let alone in spring training. So he impressed me with his eagerness to pitch.”

FAMILIAR FACES: Campy Campaneris and Blue Moon Odom each threw out ceremonial first pitches before Sunday’s exhibition home opener, which drew a smallish crowd of 4,072.

A’s reliever, movie buff Axford makes 2017 Oscars predictions

A’s reliever, movie buff Axford makes 2017 Oscars predictions

A's reliever John Axford is not your casual movie fan. 

Axford majored in Film at Notre Dame and has a proven track record when it comes to the biggest night for movies. 

The last two years, Axford correctly predicted 17 of 24 winners for the Academy Awards. In 2014, Axford went a perfect 18-of-18 with his predictions. 

On Saturday, Axford offered 24 predictions for the 2017 Oscars. 

Axford is a clear believer in La La Land, choosing the film for eights Oscars, after winning a record-breaking seven Golden Globes. 

Will he go a perfect 24-for-24 this year?