OAKLAND -- Last time the Yankees were here they swept the A's. They didn't have to contend with Yoenis Cespedes though. Cespedes was on the disabled list with a left hand strain at the time. It is no secret the A's are a better team when Cespedes is in the lineup. The stats confirm it as well. With their Cuban-born slugger in the order they are 35-24; without him the A's are 12-20. He is hitting .288 this season and seven of his 11 home runs have come with runners on base. Could Cespedes be the difference maker? He hopes so. "I am going to try to concentrate really hard to compete with them, be part of the team and try to win," Cespedes said through interpreter Ariel Prieto. "The last time I didn't have a chance to play them. I felt bad." Cespedes said he is happy to play against the Yankees for the first time. He deemed himself almost 100 healthy after recovering from a left hand strain, left hamstring strain and a sprained left thumb this season. Injuries aside, Cespedes has been a force in the A's lineup. He is on a career-high-tying six-game hitting streak, and is batting .328 (12 for 64) with runners in scoring position. Wednesday he started in left field for the first time since July 8, when he sprained his left thumb. Aside from his health, he says he is feeling a lot better about playing left field for the A's. Playing left field has been an adjustment for Cespedes, who was a centerfielder for most of his professional career, although he did play some left field in Cuba.The A's coaching staff has found something that helps him feel comfortable in in his new position. He plays deeper than the other outfielders, which allows him to use his speed to break in on the ball, and prevents him from making bad reads that allow the ball to go over his head. "I am going to try and do the best I can in left field," Cespedes said. "I feel a lot better right now."
Ryan Christenson has worked his way up the coaching ladder in the A’s farm system, and on Thursday he was named the team’s new major league bench coach.
The announcement makes Christenson, 43, the right-hand man for manager Bob Melvin and essentially the No. 2 man in the dugout. It also settles a position that was in flux over the course of the 2017 season. Mark Kotsay began this past season as bench coach but stepped away from the team in June to be with his family after his daughter, Sienna, suffered a serious eye injury.
Kotsay is expected to remain with the big league club in some form of non-everyday role. Chip Hale finished the season as bench coach but will now switch back to third base coach, a position he originally was hired for leading into the 2017 season. Hale also coaches Oakland’s infielders.
“At some point in time we knew Ryan was going to be here,” Melvin said. “He went through all the classifications (managing in the minors). He did well with a young group. It’s a good fit bringing him in, and he’s ready for the bench coach role. He’s done a lot of managing.”
Though the bench coach works in closest tandem with a manager throughout the game, Melvin also noted the importance of having a third-base coach that thinks right along with him and is on the same page. From that standpoint, he said having Hale in that role is important.
“Chip’s so good at third, that even though I’m used to having him on the bench, it’s tough not to use him (at third),” Melvin said. “Certainly this isn’t a demotion for Chip.”
It’s the first appointment on a major league staff for Christenson, who has spent the past five seasons managing in Oakland’s farm system, starting with low Single-A and working his way up to Triple-A Nashville this season. He led Double-A Midland to back-to-back Texas League titles in 2015-16, and his teams went 391-307 (.561) over those five seasons.
The rest of Melvin’s coaching staff will return intact in 2018. That includes pitching coach Scott Emerson, who took over that role midseason after the firing of Curt Young, and hitting coach Darren Bush. Like Christenson, Emerson and Bush both were promoted from within the farm system to their eventual spots on the big league staff.
All three men have extensive history coaching the large group of young players that are establishing themselves as the A’s core, and that’s a factor worth keeping in mind when evaluating the makeup of this staff.
Emerson, who assumed Young’s duties in June, will return as pitching coach despite the A’s staff posting a 4.67 ERA, highest by an Oakland staff since 1999. A’s pitchers also surrendered an Oakland-record 210 home runs.
“Similar to Ryan, he knows everybody, what we have here and in the minor leagues,” Melvin said of Emerson. “He’s been a good fit here and continues to be a good fit.”
Bush oversaw a group of hitters that showed improvement as the season wore on, scoring the fifth-most runs in the American League after the All-Star break. The A’s set a franchise record for strikeouts – in line with the rise in whiffs throughout the majors -- but also hit the fourth-most homers in franchise history.
Melvin’s staff is rounded out by first base coach Mike Aldrete, bullpen coach Garvin Alston and assistant hitting coach/catching coach Marcus Jensen. Steve Scarsone, who filled in as interim third base coach from June through the rest of the season, will resume his duties as a traveling instructor throughout the farm system.
Young Athletics fan Loren Jade Smith is among the thousands of people affected by the Northern California wildfires. Along with his family's home, the fire storm took his most valued possession -- his A's memorabilia collection.
In his disappointment, Smith wrote a letter to the A's that has since gone viral.
After the letter was shared throughout the Twitterverse, A's President Dave Kaval said the team would reach out to Jade and his family to replace his memorabilia.
No doubt. So touching. We are reaching out to family so we can replace their collection. https://t.co/Gwk48heAyR— Dave Kaval (@DaveKaval) October 15, 2017
And since Kaval's announcement, the A's community of fans has responded with offers to send the young fan some memorabilia. The A's have even set up an address where fans can send Smith their gifts.
If you'd like to donate baseball memorabilia to our pal Loren, please send items to the address below and we’ll make sure they get to him. pic.twitter.com/xI3ZwWWfNA— A's, But Spooky 🌳🐘🎃 (@Athletics) October 16, 2017