Athletics

Familiar faces tabbed to lead A's minor leaguers

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Familiar faces tabbed to lead A's minor leaguers

The minor league coaching carousel has come to a halt as the Oakland Athletics organization has all of its coaches in place for the 2013 season. The big news is the promotion of Steve Scarsone from manager of the Double-A Midland Rockhounds to manager of the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats.Scarsone replaces Darren Bush, who was promoted to Oakland to be the A's bullpen coach. For Scarsone, the promotion is a big career step as all four of the previous River Cats managers have gone on to coach or manage in the major leagues. On the surface these may not look like big moves, but the A's lean heavily on their minor league system to produce players that are ready to contribute when called upon. The coaches in the minor leagues play a crucial role for the A's big league team. Last year guys like Brandon Moss, Chris Carter, Josh Donaldson, A.J. Griffin, Dan Straily, and Evan Scribner all played important roles for the A's. Straily and Griffin both spent time under Scarsone's leadership last season."He comes every day with the same energy win or lose," Straily said of Scarsone. "He tries to instill that attitude that we are better than everyone else in each ballplayer. He's a lot like every other member that the A's have put into the coaching staff. He's positive, upbeat, and he's not a negative person." Scarsone has managed several teams in the A's organization. He led Single-A Kane County in 2009, Single-A Advanced Stockton in 2010, and Double-A Midland for the past two seasons. He also managed for two years in the Diamondbacks Minor League system. He not only has shown good leadership qualities as a manager but also is a proven teacher and instructor," A's director of player development Keith Lieppman said. "We believe he will carry on in the fine tradition of the outstanding young managers that have led the River Cats throughout their history."Former A's bullpen coach Rick Rodriguez has been named the River Cats pitching coach. He spent two years as the bullpen coach in Oakland before being replaced by Bush. Rodriguez is the longest tenured pitching coach in River Cats history. He spent 10 seasons in Sacramento. He replaces Scott Emerson, who will now be the organization's roving pitching instructor. Emerson spent two seasons as the River Cats pitching coach. Emerson coached Jarrod Parker, Straily, and Griffin last season and they all had an impact on the A's starting rotation. He is an outspoken guy with a wealth of knowledge and should fit very well in his new role. "I think it's a great opportunity for him," Straily said. "He's a well liked guy, knows what he's talking about, knows how to evaluate talent and develop it, and that's what that position is for." The job he is taking over used to belong to Gil Patterson who left for the Yankees organization. Greg Sparks returns to the River Cats for his second season as hitting coach. Aaron Nieckula will be the manager of the Midland Rockhounds after seven seasons as manager with the A's Single-A affiliates.

Ryan Christenson named bench coach as A's solidify 2018 staff

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Ryan Christenson named bench coach as A's solidify 2018 staff

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 A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

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Twitter @KatieUtehs

Young A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

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. 

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.