Athletics

A's have 'dry-erase board' game in Detroit

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A's have 'dry-erase board' game in Detroit

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DETROIT -- The A's rolled into the Motor City on Tuesday and then got run over. The beginning of the team's critical 10-game road trip through Detroit, New York, and Texas couldn't have started much worse, as the Tigers' offense tore chunks out of the A's pitching, handing them a 12-2 loss, their most lopsided defeat this season. "It just got out of hand," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "I can't think of too many games that just got out of hand on us. You've just got to move on. It's just one game."The A's scored first, but had trouble piling on, even after Tigers' starting pitcher Max Scherzer was lifted from the game after just two innings as a result of right shoulder fatigue.Entering Tuesday, Scherzer was 10-1 with a 2.53 ERA in his last 14 starts. He leads the American League with 224 strikeouts. Only needing to face him for two innings should have been a big break for the A's hitters; it wasn't. The Tigers' bullpen stifled Oakland for seven innings of one-run ball."Scherzer comes out and now they've got a lefty, we've got all of our lefties in the game," Melvin said of his batting order that had five left-handed hitters and two switch hitters. "When you have a lineup with a lot of lefties at that point, it is what it is." With Scherzer out and the 6-0 A.J. Griffin on the mound, the A's chances looked pretty good early on, but the young righty had trouble with the long ball against the Tigers. He allowed a career-high three homers and five earned runs. The struggles were uncharacteristic of Griffin, who had allowed just one homer in his last seven starts. "I just wasn't executing pitches the way I usually do," Griffin said. "I wasn't pounding down in the zone, leaving pitches up, and they capitalized on it." "We're used to seeing him painting all the time and mixing his pitches," Melvin added, "He was just off today. It's the first time we've seen him like that."Griffin was bounced from the game after four and two-thirds innings. He gave up a moonshot to Miguel Cabrera on a hanging curveball in the third inning, and a line drive two-run homer to Prince Fielder in the fifth inning that gave the Tigers a 5-1 lead. "They are all really good hitters," Griffin said. "They are a big league team just like any big league team. They seemed to be pretty locked in today; they had some success. That's just how it goes sometimes." Cabrera added a grand slam in the eight inning off Jesse Chavez to blow the game wide open. It was Cabrera's 40th home run of the season. The Comerica Park crowd erupted in M-V-P chants as he rounded the bases. Chavez was then ejected from the game for hitting Fielder on a 1-2 pitch, which enraged the A's skipper. "He's not trying to hit him there on a 1-2 count; you've got to pitch that guy in, that's ridiculous," Melvin said. "There's no way he is trying to hit him there."The A's had several chances to do some damage but couldn't. They stranded 10 runners, six of them the result of Stephen Drew going 0 for 3 with two strikeouts with runners on base. "My night was kind of frustrating," Drew said. "Moss got some key hits and put me in a good situation, I just didn't get the job done. It was frustrating. I wish I could have done better." Josh Reddick scored both of the A's runs after reaching on a single in the first inning and a double in the seventh inning. He came around to score on a Brandon Moss RBI hit in the first, and scored in the seventh on a Yoenis Cespedes hit down the left field line that was interfered with by a fan. On the play, Cespedes stumbled out of the batter's box after rolling his right ankle and was initially awarded second base, but then told to go back to first base. Melvin argued the call to no avail. After the game Cespedes' ankle was heavily wrapped but he insisted he was alright. When asked if he'd be able to play on Wednesday he responded in perfect English. "Everyday." Coco Crisp left the game in the fourth inning after experiencing complications with his lingering eye infections. Chris Carter pinch hit for him and grounded into an inning-ending double play with runners on the corners. In the clubhouse after the game Crisp's eyes looked very red and puffy. "He just wasn't seeing the ball 100 percent," Melvin said of taking Crisp out of the game. "I certainly don't want to put anybody in a bad position, it just made sense to me. Your eyes are very important if you aren't seeing the spin on the ball there can be some danger involved." The A's 10-run loss to the Tigers is the worst they've suffered all season. They lost 10-1 in Baltimore on April 28. Even after the lopsided defeat the A's insist they are ready to turn the page. "It's a dry erase board," Griffin said. "We're going to wipe this one clean and come to the yard with a new day tomorrow and play the best baseball we can." Inge-ury Alert:Brandon Inge returned to the A's clubhouse just prior to first pitch. He had a clubhouse stall set up before the game but didn't want to detract attention from the team so he didn't meet with the media. He will be with the team again on Wednesday. Inge's season-ending shoulder surgery was performed last Thursday in Detroit by Dr. Stephen Lemos, who is the Tigers' orthopedic surgeon. Inge wants to dress and travel with the team as soon as he is recovered enough from the surgery.

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.