DETROIT -- As the Oakland A's and Detroit Tigers get set to clash in the American League Division Series there is an interesting sub-plot. A's manager Bob Melvin, 50, actually played for Tigers manager Jim Leyland, 67, in Detroit's 1981 Instructional League.Melvin was drafted by the Tigers in the first round with the second overall pick of the 1981 amateur draft. That's how he first came in contact with Leyland. Here are the transcripts from Leyland and Melvin as they explain their history together. Jim Leyland: "Well I just remember Bob was an excellent catcher. He was like all of us, there was a question mark whether he was going to hit or not. But he was always a very bright student of the game. You could see that right from the get-go. He's done a wonderful, wonderful job."Bob Melvin: "There were so many things you could learn from as a young player, and then as far as playing for Jim Leyland, that was a short period of time in '81 in Instructional League. He got the White Sox coaching job I think during it. But it didn't take you long to be around Jim Leyland to realize the impact that he has around players."We were there in Instructional League, that's winter ball stuff. I remember losing three or four games in a row to start. And he came in, had a little tirade -- in Instructional League -- that got my attention very quickly. Some of the points were made that because this is winter ball doesn't mean we go out and there without the intensity to win and learned a lot in a very short period of time with Jim Leyland. One of the great managers of all time."
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 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.
No doubt. So touching. We are reaching out to family so we can replace their collection. https://t.co/Gwk48heAyR— Dave Kaval (@DaveKaval) October 15, 2017
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.
If you'd like to donate baseball memorabilia to our pal Loren, please send items to the address below and we’ll make sure they get to him. pic.twitter.com/xI3ZwWWfNA— A's, But Spooky 🌳🐘🎃 (@Athletics) October 16, 2017