Athletics

Anderson pitches through pain in postseason win

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Anderson pitches through pain in postseason win

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- After making six innings of shutout ball look easy, Brett Anderson admitted that his right oblique was still hurting him during the game. That news may come as surprise to the Tigers hitters who stepped into the batter's box against him. Anderson allowed just two hits and struck out six batters in a win-or-go-home game. A mere 20 days ago the young lefty strained his right oblique and was thought to be lost for the season.
PRATT'S INSTANT REPLAY: A's stave off elimination
Anderson, 24, hit 93-MPH on the radar gun and had command of his biting slider. He battled through the pain to win his first postseason start and keep the A's alive in the American League Division Series."It was just kind of dull and annoying," Anderson said of his right oblique. "It wasn't like I'd throw one pitch and it would throb or pull. It was just kind of there. You have to deal with it and go out and compete."Anderson fired off 80 pitches, 45 of which were strikes. He may have been fighting through some pain but he really settled into a groove late in the game as he retired nine of the last 10 hitters he faced. After he completed the top of the sixth by striking out Miguel Cabrera, much to the delight of the sold-out crowd, A's manager Melvin broke the news that he was done for the night."There was a long discussion with him because he wasn't aware there was a pitch count with him," Melvin said. "Earlier in the game I don't think he felt as good as he did later in the game. But 19,20 days off, we weren't looking for any more than that." Anderson did his best to plead his case. He wanted to stay in the game but trusted his manager's decision. "I told him I could go," Anderson said. "Not knowing how today was going to play out, 80 pitches was enough and I had confidence in our bullpen and they did the job." "Annoying" pain aside, Anderson said his start in Game Three against the Tigers was the most fun he has ever had on the mound. He plans to show up on Wednesday and do his treatment like normal in hopes of getting prepared to make another start. He credited the raucous Oakland Coliseum crowd for helping make his first postseason start memorable. Anderson induced 10 ground ball outs and only one fly out. That one ball that was hit in the air was a rocket off the bat of Prince Fielder to leadoff the second inning, that center fielder Coco Crisp made a highlight reel catch on to keep it inside the park. "You don't ever expect a guy to rob a home run for you," Anderson said. "When he hit it I was hoping it wasn't going to leave the yard, at that point for a double. Then I see him fly through the air and make the catch."
RATTO: Coco Crisp -- From goat to hero
The catch by Crisp was as soothing as a liberal smattering of icy hot. The defense made several nice plays behind Anderson including a double play to end the third. He did himself several favors as well. He struck out Austin Jackson and Omar Infante swinging in seven total pitches to start the game, and got Cabrera on one pitch to end the first."You don't really know how the game is going to go until you end up there on the mound," Anderson said. "I was fairly sharp the first two hitters and got some strikeouts and kind of set the tone a little bit."After working through the nerves, he was able to focus on Detroit's hitters. Battling with the Tigers lineup ended up being a welcome distraction. "You aren't worried about your oblique when you are facing a Triple Crown Winner or Prince Fielder or whoever is in their lineup," Anderson said. The A's will have to hope Anderson's effort brings them some momentum. They won't be able to get him back out on the mound unless they win their next two games and survive elimination at the hands of the Tigers.

New Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna takes jab at A's during media event

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AP

New Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna takes jab at A's during media event

While expressing his happiness to be with his new team, Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna took a swipe at the A’s during a media function in St. Louis on Sunday.

Ozuna’s name, you’ll remember, swirled in trade rumors earlier this offseason that he might be dealt from the Miami Marlins to Oakland. Instead, the two-time All-Star was traded to St. Louis, making him one of several big-name players Miami has shipped off as it looks to slash payroll.

While attending the Cardinals’ Winter Warm-Up event to preview this season, Ozuna was asked what it was like being dealt to a team that’s more focused on winning right away as opposed to the rebuilding Marlins.

“I feel happy about that,” Ozuna responded. “First thing when I heard they were trying to trade me to the Oakland A’s, I say … (long pause) Well, I say ‘God, please leave me over here.’ Then I heard they trade me to the Cardinals, I say ‘OK, thanks.’”

Ouch.

Well, it’s not the first time such an insult has been hurled the A’s way, whether directly or indirectly. Last winter, it came out that Matt Holliday — who spent part of 2009 with Oakland — had a no-trade clause included in his contract with the Yankees that prohibited him from being traded only to the A’s.

Is it surprising to hear Ozuna volunteer his thoughts about the A’s in a public forum? Perhaps.

Is it a shock that he’d feel that way in the first place? Definitely not.

It’s no secret the A’s reputation is one of a team that’s always looking to trade its best veteran players rather than spend the money to sign them long term. It’s also common knowledge that they play in an outdated ballpark that’s considered the worst in the majors.

No question, those are the dominant thoughts of players on the other 29 teams when they think of the A’s. And there’s no quick fix to that. National perception is tough to alter.

“Why doesn’t ownership just start spending more money on payroll?” you might ask. “That’s the best way to change perception.”

No arguments there, but we know from the past that isn’t going to happen. Clearly, majority owner John Fisher isn’t going to spend more freely on payroll — especially with the A’s being cut off from MLB’s revenue sharing system — unless he sees the potential for other forms of revenue to stream in.

It all points back to the critical need for the A’s to identify a ballpark site and begin construction on a new home. That will send a message around the majors that a plan is in motion, that better days are ahead.

Until then, the A’s can expect to absorb the occasional jab like that delivered by Ozuna. On the bright side for Oakland fans, they might have just identified Public Enemy No. 2, a player who can slot in right behind Holliday as their favorite opponent to vilify.

A's, Khris Davis avoid arbitration, but is this a long-term union?

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USATSI

A's, Khris Davis avoid arbitration, but is this a long-term union?

The A’s took care of a big piece of business with their top run producer, signing slugger Khris Davis to a one-year contract Wednesday and avoiding arbitration.

FanRag’s Jon Heyman reported the sides settled on a $10.5 million salary. That’s more than double the $5 million Davis made last season in his first trip through the arbitration process, but a huge raise was expected after Davis put up more monster numbers in his second year with Oakland.

His 43 home runs in 2017 ranked second in the American League and he was third in RBI with 110. Consider that Davis is the only major leaguer to crack the 40-homer mark in each of the past two seasons, and only Giancarlo Stanton has more total homers during that span (86 to Davis’ 85).

That obviously makes the 30-year-old Davis a valuable commodity.

“Back to back 40-homer years in this ballpark. You guys don’t talk about it enough,” A’s executive VP of baseball operations Billy Beane said in October. “When we acquired him (in a trade from Milwaukee) we knew we got a guy with a lot of power. I think we were thinking a 30-homer guy. The fact he’s gone 40 back-to-back is pretty amazing. He fits in perfectly here. I think having that big bat that Khris brings helps guys like (Matt) Olson and (Matt) Chapman.”

So it’s clear the A’s value Davis, and that’s why he hasn’t been traded thus far, as many around the game speculated he might be this winter. But where do things go moving forward?

He’ll be eligible for arbitration one more time next winter before he’s able to test free agency heading into the 2020 season. If you’re an A’s fan, you know where this is going. If July hits and the A’s are floundering in the standings, Davis no doubt will be a trade candidate. He’d have appeal as a proven slugger who would remain under team control for 2019.

But Davis is a rare breed. He loves playing in Oakland and doesn’t hide that fact. The pitcher-friendly Coliseum has done nothing to suppress his power. In fact, he’s thrived. His 26 home runs at the Coliseum in 2017 fell one short of Jason Giambi’s Oakland record for homers by a home player.

It would seem he’d be open to a long-term extension, and the sides reportedly have held past discussions about one. The A’s have designs on signing some of their younger core players to extensions. But you’d have to rank it as a surprise were they to actually complete an extension with Davis, given the money he would command.

More than likely, Beane and his staff will evaluate the team through the first half of the upcoming season, weigh the pros and cons of dealing him, and if he stays, enter through this arbitration process again next winter, knowing that he’ll command even more bucks on another one-year deal.

An ‘X’ factor is how Davis adjusts to his shift from left field to designated hitter. He told NBC Sports California in November that he prefers the outfield but will fill whatever role is best for the team.

The feeling here is that he’ll put up the same numbers that fans have grown accustomed to, and the ball will be in the A’s court as to how long he remains in green and gold.