Khris Davis working hard to improve his throwing in left

Khris Davis working hard to improve his throwing in left

MESA, Ariz. — Everybody knows the impact Khris Davis makes in the middle of the A’s lineup, but this spring the left fielder is working to improve another aspect of his game.

Davis and A’s outfield coach Mike Aldrete are working regularly on improving the strength and accuracy of Davis’ throwing arm. Opposing base runners have gotten bold in taking the extra base on Davis, and while he acknowledges he’s never going to develop a cannon, he and Aldrete both believe there’s room for improvement that can make a difference throughout the season.

“We’re not looking for him to throw like Roberto Clemente,” Aldrete said. “What we’re really working on is trying to stop guys from taking extra bases.”

Davis takes the task seriously, and he’s frank in his comments about wanting to become a better outfield thrower.

“Nobody’s harder on themselves than me, and when I hear I throw like a girl, that (stuff) doesn’t feel good,” he said. “But at the same time, where I lack somewhere, I gain somewhere else. Just because I have a weak arm doesn’t mean I’m a bad left fielder. I can still cut balls off and get it in.

“It’s just a matter of minimizing bad throws.”

He’s got a good mentor in Aldrete, who played 10 years in the majors and admits that he had a weak arm in left field when he initially moved from first base with the Giants. But he made gradual improvement over time, and though Aldrete never struck fear in opponents with his arm, he says that part of his game became adequate.

“To me it’s a lot like speed,” Aldrete said. “No one’s ever going to make me a 100-meter Olympic champion. But whatever I’ve got today, if I can work on it and be faster than I am today, that’s a good thing.”

Helping Davis become a more well-rounded defender would benefit the A’s. He’s their best power hitter, one of just seven players in franchise history to notch a 40-homer season, so he needs to be a daily fixture in the middle of the order. One option would be to use Davis more at designated hitter. But the A’s want to cycle other players through the DH spot too, including Ryon Healy, who doesn’t have a regular defensive position right now but whose bat needs to be in the lineup somewhere.

If Davis improves his throwing, it might make opponents alter their scouting reports a bit, where a ball hit toward the left field line doesn’t automatically have a hitter thinking “double” out of the box.

Davis and Aldrete are putting in extra work two or three mornings a week, with Davis logging time in the batting cage on other days. As he points out, there’s a balance to strike between working on throwing and making sure he keeps his swing grooved.

“Honestly, I have to work on (throwing) a lot more than my hitting,” Davis said. “But at the same time, it’s a fine line because I don’t want to take away from my hitting, because there’s times I’ve got to work on my swing too.”

Now officially in the fold, Lucroy ready to work with young A's pitchers


Now officially in the fold, Lucroy ready to work with young A's pitchers

The Oakland A's made it official: They finally got their man behind the plate. 

Oakland officially announced the signing of veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy on Monday. Lucroy's deal is reportedly worth $6.5 million, according to the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser.

Lucroy joined his new teammates for the first time in Arizona on Monday, and told reporters that he is especially excited to work with the club's young, promising pitching staff. The three returning leaders in innings pitched (Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea, Jharel Cotton) are all 27-years-old or younger, and 22-year-old top prospect A.J. Puk is pushing for a rotation spot after allowing just one run in three appearances this spring. 

"I'm looking forward to working with these guys and trying to help them get better and get better myself along the way," Lucroy told reporters. "I think that's what it's all about; taking what they do best and try to simplify their approach ... Really, just doing anything I can with them to get hitters out."

Manager Bob Melvin told reporters that he thinks Lucroy's experience will prove beneficial to his young staff.

"If we can't go out and get ourselves a [starting pitcher], that's the next best thing," Melvin told reporters on Monday. "So, he's got a lot of experience, and a great reputation for being a teriffic leader behind the plate."

Lucroy, 31, slashed .265/.345/.371 in 481 plate appearances with the Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies last season, hitting six home runs with 40 RBI, his lowest marks in those categories since his rookie season in 2010.

In order to accomodate Lucroy's signing the, the A's designated left-handed pitcher Jairo Labourt for assignment. Labourt was acquired off of waivers on Mar. 4, and Labourt's arrival prompted the eventual release of Brandon Moss one month into his Oakland reunion.

Maxwell speaks about anthem protest, but stays mum on legal issues


Maxwell speaks about anthem protest, but stays mum on legal issues

When A's catcher Bruce Maxwell knelt during the anthem last season, he was the first MLB player to do so. He knelt before each of each of Oakland's final nine games, in order to protest racial inequality and in response to President Trump's incendiary comments about NFL players kneeling, but ended the season as the only MLB player to kneel during the anthem. 

This season, he won't kneel at all, he told reporters in a statement on the first day of spring training. 

“Obviously, I didn’t take that lightly,” Maxwell told the San Francisco Chronicle prior to the release of his statement.  “That was to bring awareness to a problem and the face we do see it, we do experience and we have empathy for what’s going on. This year I don’t plan on kneeling. … And we’ll move on forward.”

While Maxwell did address his protest during the anthem, he largely did not address his offseason legal issues.

“It’s ongoing, I can’t really discuss details,” he said. “It’s something me and my lawyers are handling.”

On Oct. 28, Maxwell was arrested in Scottsdale after allegedly pointing a gun at a food-delivery person. He pleaded not guilty to felony charges of aggravated assault and disorderly conduct in November, and is set for a settlement conference on April 13 after failing to reach a plea agreement on Monday, according to the Chronicle. 

If an agreement cannot be reached, Maxwell's trial is set to begin on Aug. 9.