A's spring training Day 19: Manaea's command deserts him vs Indians

A's spring training Day 19: Manaea's command deserts him vs Indians

MESA, Ariz. — So good was Sean Manaea’s changeup in his first spring start that Giants superstar Buster Posey was singing its praises.

In Saturday’s second start, Manaea simply didn’t have a feel for the pitch. The A’s lefty got knocked around for five runs (four earned) in 1 2/3 innings and the A’s absorbed a 15-5 drubbing from the Cleveland Indians at Hohokam Stadium.

Such is the nature of early spring, when a pitcher’s command can desert him from one outing to the next without explanation.

“I just wasn’t throwing it for a strike,” Manaea said. “It’s something I’ve got to work on, something that needs to be executed a lot better than it was today. It’s what I guess spring training (is about), working out all those kinks and hopefully by the season be ready to go.”

The A’s as a team will take a mulligan on this one.

Seven pitchers got clobbered for 19 hits, and Oakland capped a forgettable afternoon by committing two errors.

Manaea was dialed in against San Francisco to the point that Posey commented to A’s infielder Ryon Healy about how tough his changeup was. Not the case Saturday, when Manaea said he felt out of whack mechanically with the pitch. He also had trouble spotting the fastball, and that led to him falling behind in counts. But manager Bob Melvin simply chalked it up as a bad day.

“Usually he’s so good at locating, especially with his fastball and changeup,” Melvin said. “He got behind in counts, but he’s not a guy that I’m worried too much about.”

NOTEWORTHY: Some clarity came Saturday regarding Santiago Casilla’s status for the World Baseball Classic. The official Twitter account of the Dominican Republic national team said that neither Casilla nor Giants pitcher Johnny Cueto would pitch in the first round of the tournament, which begins Monday.

Casilla, delayed from reporting to A’s camp because of visa issues, is scheduled to arrive Sunday, and Melvin said he would have more information regarding Casilla’s status in the morning.

In other bullpen news, Ryan Madson will pitch in his first game Tuesday after being scratched Thursday with arm soreness. Sean Doolittle will throw off the mound Sunday and face hitters after that.

PROSPECT WATCH: With Matt Chapman held out of the lineup because of a cracked toe nail, Renato Nunez drew a start at third and hit a two-run homer. He also barreled up a couple of other balls. Chad Pinder, who like Nunez got his first call-up in September, started at shortstop and also homered.

“He and Pinder both took advantage of an opportunity, kind of a rare start for those guys,” Melvin said. “These are big games for them. It’s prime time for them, and both had good games today.”

FAMILIAR FACE: Former “Big Three” lefty Mark Mulder wandered through the clubhouse before the game.

Travis Banwart, an ex-Oakland minor leaguer, pitched one inning for Cleveland and gave up the long ball to Pinder.

ODDS AND ENDS: Khris Davis, who came in 1-for-10 in exhibitions, singled to right in the first inning to drive in his first run of the spring. … Right-hander Josh Smith took the brunt of the damage on the mound, getting tagged for five runs in two-thirds of an inning.


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.