Athletics

Nostalgic weekend awaits Reddick in his return against A's

Nostalgic weekend awaits Reddick in his return against A's

KANSAS CITY — The A’s come right off the road and begin a 10-game homestand Friday night, and there will be some emotion tied to the storyline this weekend.

Josh Reddick, now playing right field for the Houston Astros, makes his return to the Coliseum, the ballpark he called home for 4 1/2 seasons and where he blossomed into a starting major league outfielder.

He’s expecting the series to tug at his heartstrings.

In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Reddick recalled the final home game he played at the Coliseum last season in late July, shortly before he and Rich Hill were dealt at the Aug. 1 trade deadline to the Dodgers for pitchers Jharel Cotton, Frankie Montas and Grant Holmes.

Reddick said he soaked in every last moment he could before leaving the field after that last home game against Tampa Bay.

“I sat in the dugout for probably a good 15 minutes after the game was over, the last one in there,” Reddick told the newspaper. “Kind of emotional. You cry because you've played in some emotional games there. I mean, look at what we did in '12 and '13 and even ’14.”

Reddick hit 32 homers and was a core member of the 2012 A’s team that made a mad rush to a division title in the season’s final week. Injuries ate into his next two seasons, but he was still a key man on the division-winning club of 2013 and the team that earned a Wild Card berth in 2014.

Looking beyond the stats, Reddick built a strong bond with A’s fans, particularly the die-hards in the right field bleachers who set up shop right behind him while he played defense.

“It’ll be a little different,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said before Thursday’s 3-1 loss at Kansas City. “I’ve never seen him, other than a short time in Boston, in a different uniform than ours.”

With Reddick poised to become a free agent for the first time after the 2016 season, it became apparent as the A’s fell out of contention by midseason that he likely would get traded. He hit .258 over 47 games with the Dodgers, then hit .364 in an NL Championship Series loss to the Cubs, before heading into the offseason and landing a four-year, $52 million contract with the Astros. He’s hitting .333 (9-for-27) with no homers and two RBI so far, serving as Houston’s primary right fielder but drawing one start in left.

In the Houston Chronicle story, Reddick recalled how after signing his deal with Houston, he talked to Melvin and told him that he wanted Stephen Vogt to catch his first game against the A’s so he could give Vogt a hug at home plate. As it turns out, Josh Phegley will get the start at catcher Friday against Astros lefty Dallas Keuchel, but surely Reddick will spread the love around before the game as he catches up with old friends.

But the A’s will quickly shift to the business of a 10-game homestand featuring all AL West opponents — three games against Houston, three against Texas and four against Seattle. Oakland returns home with a 5-5 record, having gone 3-3 on its first road trip to Texas and Kansas City.

One area the A’s really need to tighten up right now is their defense. They’ve committed a league-high 11 errors — five by their pitchers. Starter Jesse Hahn dropped an easy flip while covering first base Thursday night and Mark Canha dropped a catchable liner in right field.

“That kind of skews the hard work we’re doing with our guys,” Melvin said. “That’s a play we should make (in right). I can’t explain the ones on the pitching end right now. In spring training, that’s all we do is work on (pitchers’ fielding) stuff.”

Ryon Healy downplayed a moment in Thursday’s game where he had words with Royals catcher Salvador Perez after an inside pitch from Jason Vargas.

“The way the pitch took me, I kind of looked back to him like, ‘Hey, that was inside,’” Healy said afterward. “There was nothing else that I said. Salvy kind of jumped on me and it escalated form there.”

As quickly as things heated up, the situation was defused.

“I told Salvy (later in the game), ‘Hey, we’re good man,’” Healy said.

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. 

Who can we blame for epidemic of teams losing three straight elimination games?

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AP

Who can we blame for epidemic of teams losing three straight elimination games?

Fox’ Matt Vasgersian, who does his job well,  declared the New York Yankees’ American League Division Series win over Cleveland to be amazing.

It is not. Not any more.

In fact, the Yankees winning three elimination games in succession is a feat that has happened seven times in the past three years. And we can only conclude from that that they’re not making teams that can avoid the bad beat the way they used to.

The 2017 Indians joined the 2016 Indians, Warriors and Thunder, the 2015 Clippers, Capitals and Texas Rangers, the 2014 Penguins and Sharks, the 2013 Red Wings, the 2012 Reds and Cardinals, the 2011 Penguins, the 2010 Bruins and Capitals as proud laryngectomy victims – teams that needed to win only one of three (or in the Sharks’ case, four) games to advance in the playoffs (or in the Warriors’ case, win).

That’s 15 times this “amazing” thing has happened, which means that by any estimate, teams that needed to win three consecutive games to escape the icy hand of Uncle Death are now pretty much the norm in this decade.

And why, you ask? I blame Twitter. I blame global warming. I blame video games. I blame smartphones. I blame phones. I blame the new president. I blame the old president. I blame Satan. I blame participation trophies and orange slices and juice boxes. I blame the players and I blame the owners and I blame the fans and definitely those smarmy bastards in the media. They’re the worst.

I blame you. Hell, I think I blame Matt Vasgersian.

But whomever is at fault, we have here an epidemic of feet strangling their owners when everything seems their cheeriest. And unless we live in such misery-enriched times that good times are only precursors to far worse ones, there is no sensible explanation. Players’ windpipes are no smaller than they were a decade ago. The Internet is older than seven years. Close-out games are not materially more difficult than they were before 2010.

And yet winning that one extra game is suddenly like finding out your SAT test has been written totally in anagrams. In other words, when things look brightest, that’s when you know you’re totally screwed.

And if you don’t believe me, ask Terry Francona. In a few weeks maybe. Not right away. Not unless you’re keen to see how it feels to have your neck used as a bathmat.