Athletics

Anderson encouraged by return to mound

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Anderson encouraged by return to mound

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OAKLAND -- Brett Anderson took the mound for the first time since straining his right oblique on September 19 in Detroit. The injury occurred 12 days ago and he is already throwing from a mound. That is a good sign that Anderson could be ready to pitch in the American League Wild Card game if the A's end up there. That game would take place on Friday. Anderson, 24, has been playing long toss but taking the mound gives the A's a better way to gauge how ready he is. "My arm felt good, my body feels good, my legs and core are strong," Anderson said. "As long as this oblique is fine tomorrow I should be good to go."
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The A's have reason to be confident in Anderson's ability to pitch. He hasn't been out that long and he went 4-0 in his first four starts after missing 14 months with "Tommy John" surgery on his left elbow. Anderson is 4-2 with a 2.57 ERA, 25 strikeouts and just seven walks in six starts this season. He is the most experienced pitcher in the starting rotation. If anything, the oblique kept his arm rested. "My arm hasn't felt this good in forever," Anderson said. "We'll see how my oblique feels tomorrow, do some treatment and go from there."Anderson has started 68 games in his career. The rest of the pitchers currently in the A's starting rotation have 108 starts combined. Dan Straily would be on turn to start on Friday, but the A's have a day off on Thursday so they could elect to go with Tommy Milone. Throwing Anderson out there could be a risky move. "There's always that possibility but we just don't want to get ahead of ourselves," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We certainly don't want to push a guy if we feel like there's some lingering soreness in the area. To this point there isn't, but you never know how he is going to feel tomorrow.""That's not up to me but I felt good today," Anderson said. "My stuff was good, big day tomorrow."The night Anderson strained his right oblique he said it would be a good story if he could pitch in the one-game playoff. He wants to make sure the team knows he is an option. Anderson has never pitched in the postseason before and understands it's an opportunity that doesn't come around too often. "I've never been to the playoffs and you try to push it and do everything you can to help your team get there and hopefully win some games once you do get there," Anderson said. "But you don't want to hurt it where next thing you know you are out, or you have to have surgery or something crazy like that." So far Anderson has cleared another hurdle toward returning. All they can do now is wait and see how his oblique bounces back from the throwing session.

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach

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AP

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach

OAKLANDThe Oakland A’s named Matt Williams as third base coach on Bob Melvin’s coaching staff for the 2018 season, the club announced today.

Williams spent five seasons on the Arizona Diamondbacks coaching staff as first base coach (2010) and third base coach (2011-13, 16) and also managed the Washington Nationals for two seasons.  He was named National League Manager of the Year by the BBWAA in his first season as manager in 2014, guiding the Nationals to a 96-66 record and an NL East title.  He went 83-79 in 2015 for a 179-145 (.552) record in two seasons as manager.

Williams played 17 seasons in the majors with San Francisco (1987-96), Cleveland (1997) and Arizona (1998-2003).  He was a .268 career hitter with 378 home runs and 1218 RBI in 1866 games.  Williams was a five-time All-Star and won four Gold Gloves as a third baseman.

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Ryon Healy trade has domino effect

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AP

Ryon Healy trade has domino effect

The A’s wasted no time making their first major move of the offseason, and it has a domino effect on how their 2018 lineup will take shape.

The trade of young slugger Ryon Healy to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday paves the way for left fielder Khris Davis to start getting heavy at-bats as the designated hitter, the spot left vacant by Healy.

It also points to another move the A’s want to pull off — acquiring a right-handed hitting corner outfielder who presumably can eat up those defensive innings that Davis spends as the DH.

It’s a series of moves that isn’t all that surprising given the A’s roster makeup right now. Healy, who hit .282 with 38 homers in 221 games over his first two big league seasons, is capable of playing either first or third base. But Matt Olson and Matt Chapman secured those spots, respectively, with their solid showings as rookies last season.

“We’ve obviously talked a lot since the end of the season about adding to the bullpen,” A’s general manager David Forst said on a conference call Wednesday night. “At the same time, with the emergence of Matt and Matt, on the corners, maybe Ryon needed to be somebody we might have to move ...”

It makes sense for Oakland to find a way to shift Davis from being the everyday left fielder while still keeping his 40-homer bat in the lineup. Opponents have routinely taken extra bases the past two seasons on Davis’ throwing arm, and whether they add a newcomer to play left or shift Joyce or someone else there, chances are they can benefit from better defense in left.

The A’s also feel they got an important chip back from Seattle to help bolster a bullpen that ranked 13th in the American League last season with a 4.57 ERA. They received right-hander Emilio Pagan (along with minor league shortstop Alexander Campos), and figure that the 26-year-old Pagan is someone the A’s have pegged to be an immediate contributor in their ‘pen.

A 10th round draft pick in 2013, Pagan made his big league debut in 2017 and posted a 3.22 ERA over 34 games spread over four stints with Seattle. He endured a rocky first couple of outings but, after being called up for good in the second half, eventually worked his way into a late-inning setup role. Pagan struck out 56 and walked just eight in 50 1/3 innings, numbers that surely popped out to Oakland’s front office.

He’ll likely be called upon in middle relief to help set the table for Chris Hatcher and closer Blake Treinen, as the bullpen currently looks.

Campos, just 17, spent this past season in the Dominican Summer League, and Forst said the A’s were eyeing Campos last summer when they eventually traded Yonder Alonso to the Mariners. Oakland wound up getting center fielder Boog Powell back in that deal.

Did the A’s rake in enough for Healy? As with all trades, it will take time to judge. But it’s fair to say that Healy’s departure will be felt in a clubhouse that is characterized by the emergence of many young position players, and he was a part of that group. In fact, when Healy was called up in July 2016 — knocking Danny Valencia out as the regular third baseman — he became the first of several promising position-player prospects to establish himself in Oakland’s lineup.

He rented a house in the East Bay and eventually took in Chapman, Olson and Chad Pinder as roommates. There’s a fiery side to Healy’s on-field personality that was a positive for the A’s, and watching him play Oakland as a member of an AL West rival will make for entertaining theatre.

Another storyline is how Davis takes to being a regular DH. Forst praised Davis’ approach to his game and doesn’t anticipate any problems, adding that the A’s still want to get Davis some time in the outfield.