Alonso: A's 'gotta bear down' even before smallest crowd in six years

Alonso: A's 'gotta bear down' even before smallest crowd in six years

OAKLAND — It was the opponent on the mound that hurt the A’s most Monday night, first baseman Yonder Alonso insisted, not the environment inside the ballpark.

The A’s went down quietly against Tampa Bay, as Jake Odorizzi and two Rays relievers held Oakland to just two hits in a 3-2 loss before a crowd of 9,736, the smallest at the Coliseum since the 2011 season.

Not that this was particularly unusual for the A’s. Their Monday night home crowds typically are very light throughout the season. Add in the fact the A’s are in last place and the Rays are not a great box-office draw, and the ingredients were there for the smallest home turnout in six seasons.

“No excuse,” Alonso said afterward. “You’ve got to go play, do what you gotta do to win a ballgame. You’ve gotta bear down, stay focused. It’s always nice to have a packed house, no question about it. But at the end of the day, you’ve gotta go play for each other, for the crowd, and go out there and give it your all.”

The A’s were coming off a weekend sweep of a first-place Cleveland team, and two of those games drew impressive crowds. On Saturday night, when Rickey Henderson was honored in a pregame ceremony, 33,021 were on hand. Sunday afternoon’s sweep-clinching win attracted 25,509.

But Monday goes down as a defining symbol of one of the most dismal seasons of Bay Area baseball in recent memory, with both the A’s and Giants mired in last place. With the A’s failing to crack 10,000, across the Bay the Giants saw their National League-record 530-game sellout streak end against the Indians. (Of course, it’s all relative. They still drew an impressive 39,538).

A’s team officials deserve credit this season for many upgrades made to the Coliseum game-day experience as they work toward announcing a site to build a new ballpark in Oakland. It also doesn’t help the A’s cause when both them and the Giants are playing at home at the same time.

At any rate, this was the introduction to the Coliseum for new A’s reliever Blake Treinen, who surely had plenty of adrenaline flowing no matter how many people were in the stands. Acquired from the Nationals on Sunday in the deal that sent Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to Washington, Treinen popped the catcher’s mitt as high as 99 miles per hour during a scoreless eighth inning.

He consistently hit 98.

“It’s an easy 98,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “It doesn’t look like a red-line max effort-type delivery with it. It looked like he had a sharp slider. He threw a changeup. He’s got three pitches and the ball gets on you.”

Treinen was drafted by the A’s in 2011 and sent to Washington in a three-time trade before the 2013 season. He expressed enthusiasm about rejoining the organization and looked forward to a fresh start after a rough start to his season with the Nationals.

He was happy with Monday’s outing but jokingly pointed out the challenge of joining a new team mid-season.

“The hardest thing is trying to remember names,” Treinen said. “I’m used to seeing the name on the back of the jersey, not the first name. Everybody’s introducing their first name, and I’m like, ‘What’s the last name?’, trying to figure it out.

“People look different outside the uniform. I need to get flash cards with pictures and names and I’ll be good.”

Now officially in the fold, Lucroy ready to work with young A's pitchers


Now officially in the fold, Lucroy ready to work with young A's pitchers

The Oakland A's made it official: They finally got their man behind the plate. 

Oakland officially announced the signing of veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy on Monday. Lucroy's deal is reportedly worth $6.5 million, according to the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser.

Lucroy joined his new teammates for the first time in Arizona on Monday, and told reporters that he is especially excited to work with the club's young, promising pitching staff. The three returning leaders in innings pitched (Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea, Jharel Cotton) are all 27-years-old or younger, and 22-year-old top prospect A.J. Puk is pushing for a rotation spot after allowing just one run in three appearances this spring. 

"I'm looking forward to working with these guys and trying to help them get better and get better myself along the way," Lucroy told reporters. "I think that's what it's all about; taking what they do best and try to simplify their approach ... Really, just doing anything I can with them to get hitters out."

Manager Bob Melvin told reporters that he thinks Lucroy's experience will prove beneficial to his young staff.

"If we can't go out and get ourselves a [starting pitcher], that's the next best thing," Melvin told reporters on Monday. "So, he's got a lot of experience, and a great reputation for being a teriffic leader behind the plate."

Lucroy, 31, slashed .265/.345/.371 in 481 plate appearances with the Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies last season, hitting six home runs with 40 RBI, his lowest marks in those categories since his rookie season in 2010.

In order to accomodate Lucroy's signing the, the A's designated left-handed pitcher Jairo Labourt for assignment. Labourt was acquired off of waivers on Mar. 4, and Labourt's arrival prompted the eventual release of Brandon Moss one month into his Oakland reunion.

Maxwell speaks about anthem protest, but stays mum on legal issues


Maxwell speaks about anthem protest, but stays mum on legal issues

When A's catcher Bruce Maxwell knelt during the anthem last season, he was the first MLB player to do so. He knelt before each of each of Oakland's final nine games, in order to protest racial inequality and in response to President Trump's incendiary comments about NFL players kneeling, but ended the season as the only MLB player to kneel during the anthem. 

This season, he won't kneel at all, he told reporters in a statement on the first day of spring training. 

“Obviously, I didn’t take that lightly,” Maxwell told the San Francisco Chronicle prior to the release of his statement.  “That was to bring awareness to a problem and the face we do see it, we do experience and we have empathy for what’s going on. This year I don’t plan on kneeling. … And we’ll move on forward.”

While Maxwell did address his protest during the anthem, he largely did not address his offseason legal issues.

“It’s ongoing, I can’t really discuss details,” he said. “It’s something me and my lawyers are handling.”

On Oct. 28, Maxwell was arrested in Scottsdale after allegedly pointing a gun at a food-delivery person. He pleaded not guilty to felony charges of aggravated assault and disorderly conduct in November, and is set for a settlement conference on April 13 after failing to reach a plea agreement on Monday, according to the Chronicle. 

If an agreement cannot be reached, Maxwell's trial is set to begin on Aug. 9.