Athletics

Tigers know how to test Anderson's health

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Tigers know how to test Anderson's health

OAKLAND -- Just 20 days after straining his right oblique the Oakland Athletics insist that Brett Anderson is completely healthy. Why would they send him out to the mound if he wasn't? The Detroit Tigers might be a bit more skeptical and they will have a clever way to see just how healthy Anderson is. On Sept. 19, the day Anderson injured his right oblique, Detroit started the third inning by laying back-to-back bunt singles down the first-base line. Anderson, who falls off the mound to the third base side, had trouble getting back into position to field the bunts and ended up leaving the game four batters later. The A's insist that if the Tigers try that approach again they will be ready. "We're prepared for that," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Whether it's him or someone else we're prepared." The A's are facing elimination with Anderson on the mound and when he's healthy they have to like their odds. There are some interesting variables in play with the 24-year-old lefty on the mound. It will be his first game action since suffering a Grade 2 oblique strain. It is also Anderson's first ever postseason experience. He may have looked healthy in his bullpen sessions, but it is impossible to simulate the adrenaline rush he will get when taking the mound in front of a sellout crowd. One minor tweak of the oblique and the A's season could be in jeopardy. "He was cleared on all fronts," Melvin said. "We wouldn't throw him out there if we weren't comfortable with his health. That means fielding his position, doing whatever he has to do." "My bullpens have been strong," Anderson said on Monday. "I took some time off with my oblique, so my arm feels good." Usually it's Anderson's left arm that has people worried. He missed 14 months after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2011. The fact that he was forced to miss time with the oblique injury just six starts after his return to the mound might have been a blessing in disguise, because it forced him to rest his surgically repaired left elbow. Anderson is 6-2 with a 2.57 ERA in six starts since returning. He went 4-0 in his first four starts with the A's after Tommy John. The A's have been able to successfully gauge his readiness based on bullpen sessions this season. "We've looked at this thing pretty hard and we feel like we are in a good position with him and he feels good," Melvin said. "The training staff feels good about it. It's like a normal start." Except it's in the playoffs. "I'm sure there will be adrenaline rushing, and it will be fun to pitch here," Anderson said. "A postseason game in Oakland, there hasn't been one in a while so I am excited."

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach

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AP

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach

OAKLANDThe Oakland A’s named Matt Williams as third base coach on Bob Melvin’s coaching staff for the 2018 season, the club announced today.

Williams spent five seasons on the Arizona Diamondbacks coaching staff as first base coach (2010) and third base coach (2011-13, 16) and also managed the Washington Nationals for two seasons.  He was named National League Manager of the Year by the BBWAA in his first season as manager in 2014, guiding the Nationals to a 96-66 record and an NL East title.  He went 83-79 in 2015 for a 179-145 (.552) record in two seasons as manager.

Williams played 17 seasons in the majors with San Francisco (1987-96), Cleveland (1997) and Arizona (1998-2003).  He was a .268 career hitter with 378 home runs and 1218 RBI in 1866 games.  Williams was a five-time All-Star and won four Gold Gloves as a third baseman.

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Ryon Healy trade has domino effect

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AP

Ryon Healy trade has domino effect

The A’s wasted no time making their first major move of the offseason, and it has a domino effect on how their 2018 lineup will take shape.

The trade of young slugger Ryon Healy to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday paves the way for left fielder Khris Davis to start getting heavy at-bats as the designated hitter, the spot left vacant by Healy.

It also points to another move the A’s want to pull off — acquiring a right-handed hitting corner outfielder who presumably can eat up those defensive innings that Davis spends as the DH.

It’s a series of moves that isn’t all that surprising given the A’s roster makeup right now. Healy, who hit .282 with 38 homers in 221 games over his first two big league seasons, is capable of playing either first or third base. But Matt Olson and Matt Chapman secured those spots, respectively, with their solid showings as rookies last season.

“We’ve obviously talked a lot since the end of the season about adding to the bullpen,” A’s general manager David Forst said on a conference call Wednesday night. “At the same time, with the emergence of Matt and Matt, on the corners, maybe Ryon needed to be somebody we might have to move ...”

It makes sense for Oakland to find a way to shift Davis from being the everyday left fielder while still keeping his 40-homer bat in the lineup. Opponents have routinely taken extra bases the past two seasons on Davis’ throwing arm, and whether they add a newcomer to play left or shift Joyce or someone else there, chances are they can benefit from better defense in left.

The A’s also feel they got an important chip back from Seattle to help bolster a bullpen that ranked 13th in the American League last season with a 4.57 ERA. They received right-hander Emilio Pagan (along with minor league shortstop Alexander Campos), and figure that the 26-year-old Pagan is someone the A’s have pegged to be an immediate contributor in their ‘pen.

A 10th round draft pick in 2013, Pagan made his big league debut in 2017 and posted a 3.22 ERA over 34 games spread over four stints with Seattle. He endured a rocky first couple of outings but, after being called up for good in the second half, eventually worked his way into a late-inning setup role. Pagan struck out 56 and walked just eight in 50 1/3 innings, numbers that surely popped out to Oakland’s front office.

He’ll likely be called upon in middle relief to help set the table for Chris Hatcher and closer Blake Treinen, as the bullpen currently looks.

Campos, just 17, spent this past season in the Dominican Summer League, and Forst said the A’s were eyeing Campos last summer when they eventually traded Yonder Alonso to the Mariners. Oakland wound up getting center fielder Boog Powell back in that deal.

Did the A’s rake in enough for Healy? As with all trades, it will take time to judge. But it’s fair to say that Healy’s departure will be felt in a clubhouse that is characterized by the emergence of many young position players, and he was a part of that group. In fact, when Healy was called up in July 2016 — knocking Danny Valencia out as the regular third baseman — he became the first of several promising position-player prospects to establish himself in Oakland’s lineup.

He rented a house in the East Bay and eventually took in Chapman, Olson and Chad Pinder as roommates. There’s a fiery side to Healy’s on-field personality that was a positive for the A’s, and watching him play Oakland as a member of an AL West rival will make for entertaining theatre.

Another storyline is how Davis takes to being a regular DH. Forst praised Davis’ approach to his game and doesn’t anticipate any problems, adding that the A’s still want to get Davis some time in the outfield.