Norris builds momentum with 'memorable moment'

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Norris builds momentum with 'memorable moment'

OAKLAND -- Derek Norris has only thrown out five attempted base stealers this season in 33 tries. He'll have to hope the dramatic fashion in which the fifth one occurred will help turn around his season defensively. Clinging to a 3-2 lead in the ninth inning on Friday night, Norris threw out pinch runner Xavier Avery to end the game -- sort of in walk-off fashion. "You don't see too many games end like that," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It was not only exciting for him it was exciting for all of us to end the game like that."The last time the A's caught a runner stealing to end a game was April 5, 2007 when Jason Kendall threw out Erick Aybar to give the A's a 4-3 win over the Angels. After Norris made the successful throw he let out an emotional scream and walked to first base looking like Dr. Bruce Banner just before turning into the Hulk.
"I don't think I've ever got an adrenaline rush like that before," Norris said. "The crowd was great and hopefully they keep coming back and it was something that I'll remember for a while."Norris' 15.2 caught stealing percentage leaves a lot of room for improvement. Melvin thinks his struggles behind the dish have a lot to do with irregular playing time this season."When you are not playing every day at the big league level it can be tough to keep your rhythm," Melvin said. "In Triple-A they stopped running on him he was throwing the ball so well. He has the ability to do it."Norris has issues gunning down runners but he hasn't had any trouble handling the pitching staff in Kurt Suzuki's absence. A's pitchers have a 2.97 ERA with Norris behind the plate. With a rookie catcher handling a predominantly rookie staff the A's have performed surprisingly well. Both Norris and catcher George Kottaras have filled in admirably in Suzuki's absence because they have a strong support structure in place. "Both of our guys understand what we expect and Curt Young has been great about putting together a game plan for them," Melvin said. "The pitchers too are starting to get a little bit more involved where there is give and take between the pitchers and catchers." "When you have a guy like Suzuki some of the pitchers just say 'OK, whatever he puts down, we'll throw.' It's actually helped them out some in that they're probably more aware of what their strengths and weaknesses are too," Melvin added.Norris may have lost a veteran leader when Suzuki was traded, but he still has a very accomplished instructor in Melvin who was a big league catcher for 10 years. "He's meant a lot to me, ever since Day 1 of Spring Training and being traded he's treated me well," Norris said. "He's been a great influence, positive, and you really can't ask for anything more from him."With a helping hand from the skipper maybe Norris can look less like Dr. Banner and more like the incredible green beast that he morphs into.

Report: Ex-A's outfielder agrees to $13 million deal with Yankees

Report: Ex-A's outfielder agrees to $13 million deal with Yankees

XON HILL, Md. — A person familiar with the negotiations says free agent outfielder Matt Holliday and the New York Yankees have agreed to a $13 million, one-year contract.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Sunday night because the agreement had not yet been announced.

Holliday, who turns 37 next month, fits into the Yankees strategy of signing veterans to short-term deals while pivoting toward a youth movement.

A seven-time All-Star, Holliday was drafted by Colorado in 1998, traded to Oakland after the 2008 season and then dealt to St. Louis the following July. He hit .246 with 20 homers and 62 RBIs in 110 games this year, missing substantial time after his left thumb was broken when he was hit by a pitch on Aug. 11.

Holliday became a free agent when St. Louis declined his $17 million option.

Mariners sign former A's lefty reliever to $11 million deal over two years

Mariners sign former A's lefty reliever to $11 million deal over two years

The Seattle Mariners have signed free agent lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski to a two-year contract.

Rzepczynski's deal is fo $11 million over two years. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN first reported details of the contract

The Mariners also signed right-handed reliever Casey Fien on Saturday. Left-hander Dean Kiekhefer and righty Zach Lee were designated for assignment.

The 31-year-old Rzepczynski was a combined 1-0 with a 2.64 ERA in 70 games for Oakland and Washington this season. He then pitched three times in the NL playoffs for the Nationals.

Rzepczynski has made at least 70 appearances in each of the last three years. He's also pitched for Toronto, St. Louis, Cleveland and San Diego in an eight-season career.

The 33-year-old Fien was 1-1 with a 5.49 ERA in 39 games for Minnesota and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The 27-year-old Kiekhefer made his major league debut last season and pitched 26 times in relief for the Cardinals. Seattle claimed him off waivers from St. Louis last month.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.