Athletics

Anderson turns focus from arm health to pitch health

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Anderson turns focus from arm health to pitch health

OAKLAND -- Brett Anderson pitched so well on Tuesday that his teammates gave him a commemorative baseball as a reward. OK, that may be an overstatement, the ball was given to him as a joke, honoring his first strikeout in a professional game since June 5. It's still a big achievement, and one he was proud to point out. "I finally struck somebody out," Anderson said. "They kind of made a joke, gave me a ball, it says congrats first K since June 5, 422 days."The ball says "woo hoo" and displays other sarcastic phrases. Anyone that follows Anderson on Twitter knows a gesture of that sort is right up his alley. On a more serious note, Anderson threw 73 pitches and felt like he made significant progress. The left-handed pitcher lasted four innings, allowing four hits and two runs. The results aren't as important as how he feels though -- and he feels good. "It's always better to worry about what my pitches are doing and how your stuff is, rather than is my elbow going to feel bad today," he said. "It's always a good thing."Anderson had Tommy John surgery on July 14, 2011. He is finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Next, he will start Sunday in Sacramento, and that is all he knows for sure. After a year of doctor visits, rehabilitation, and poking and prodding from various trainers, he is happy to be back on a more typical routine. "You feel like a normal pitcher," Anderson said. "You're back on your five days and you're getting on a routine. I'm not really worried what my arm is doing I'm worried what my pitches are doing."The A's say they'd like to see Anderson work his way up to around 100 pitches in game action before they'd consider bringing him back. That could happen in his next two starts. He could soon be joining a rotation that is already leading the American League in ERA. "I keep joking around that I don't know what's going to happen because there are so many guys pitching well in front of me," Anderson said. "Especially with (Brandon) McCarthy coming back, it's sort of an embarrassment of riches."The A's haven't entertained the idea of a six-man rotation, but Anderson said he wouldn't be opposed to it. The team will have some good, but tough decisions to make soon, McCarthy could be ready to join the rotation as soon as next week, and Anderson is right behind him. NOTES- Brandon McCarthy will throw a bullpen on Thursday, and will pitch Saturday for the Triple-A River Cats. - Coco Crisp made significant progress Wednesday as he recovers from a hamstring injury. Expect him back soon. - Cliff Pennington had a good day, he will take batting practice on the field Thursday and likely begin a rehab assignment with Sacramento on Friday. - Dallas Braden played catch on Wednesday for the first time after suffering from a groin strain.

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.