Athletics

Fun returns after Colon's eight shutout innings

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Fun returns after Colon's eight shutout innings

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- When people are concerned over a two-game losing streak, you know you are playing well. After losing both post-trade deadline games, naturally the fan base and the media started trying to make a connection. The A's just ignore all that and try to go out and have fun. Nothing is more fun, apparently, than eight shutout innings from Bartolo Colon, who carved through the Blue Jays lineup like a succulent Thanksgiving turkey as the A's won the game 4-1. The crafty veteran's simplified approach and laid back demeanor have become stabilizing forces in the A's starting rotation. Oakland made a lot of moves this offseason, but signing Colon, who is in the twilight of his career, to a one-year deal might have been the most underrated one. "At this point in his career he is kind of smelling the roses a little bit and kind of enjoying the ride," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "I think at this point and time he is just having as much fan as he's ever had in his career. I think that rubs off on our younger guys and has a big affect on them."Whether Colon is pitching or not, he always carries himself the same way. He is very consistent on and off the mound. Colon is 2-1 with a 2.14 ERA in his last six starts, and has walked one batter or less in his last seven. "There's nothing different," Colon said through interpreter Ariel Prieto. "I try to do the same thing every time I pitch. Just throw strikes." The A's rewarded their starting pitcher's strong effort with some much needed run support. The hits that did the most damage came from two hitters that were a combined 0-for-39 entering the day. Seth Smith who was stuck in an 0-for-18 slump drove in the first run with an RBI single. Josh Reddick who was in a career-worst 0-for-21 skid singled in his first at-bat, then cracked his 23rd homer deep to right field to give the A's a 3-0 lead in his next trip to the plate. "I know for the psyche that's big for him because he really hasn't been through a prolonged struggle this year at all," Melvin said of Reddick. "You could almost just see his spirits lift after he got the hit, and he put the best swing we've seen in a while on the home run."Reddick's homer was the A's 115th of the season -- matching their 2011 home run total. Some fatherly wisdom might have lead to the blast. "I went home last night had a long talk with Dad it seemed to work out," Reddick said. "I am glad he is here and that he was able to help. He said just be myself. His favorite line between him and my mother is, 'Be the kid in the backyard.' That's one thing that they preach about."The A's added a fourth run when Brandon Inge hit a bases loaded single in the seventh inning. His hit extended his hitting streak to an Oakland season-high 12 games. The A's win may have come at a cost though. Smith left the game after straining his left hamstring in the fifth inning. He will undergo an MRI on Friday. He said after the game that his hamstring was stiff and sore.NEWS: Smith to have MRI Friday
NOTES:- The A's will make a roster move prior to Friday's game because starting pitcher Dan Straily will be making his MLB debut. Straily leads all of professional baseball with 175 strikeouts and spent time before the game discussing his tough road to the majors in a one-on-one interview with me here. - Maybe Moneyball is back. Yoenis Cespedes drew a career-high three walks and Chris Carter who entered the game as a replacement for Smith drew his 15th walk since the All-Star break which is the second most in MLB in that span. - Cliff Pennington is expected to begin a rehab assignment in Sacramento with the River Cats on Friday.

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.