Tokyo Diary -- First workout


Tokyo Diary -- First workout

EDITOR'S NOTE: Kate Longworth is Tokyo-bound with the A's! Although it's not her standard practice to let strangers read her diary, she invites you to go behind the scenes with the A's up-and-coming players. Log on throughout the day for Kate's journal posts from Japan, and tune in nightly for her A's reports on SportsNet Central and NBC Bay Area. Whether the players are in the Tokyo Dome taking BP or trying exotic sushi, you can explore the streets of one of the most fascinating cities -- Comcast SportsNet is your ticket to Tokyo!
Tokyo Diary
Saturday, March 24, 2012

Saturday morning marked the Athletics' first workout at the Tokyo Dome. As we entered the Dome, after passing through security, we had to one by one, be let in to the facility through a pressurized door -- as to not offset the pressure inside, much like the MetroDome.Taking the field here, was incredible. The turf is in impeccable shape and the Dome, to me just looked like a thing of beauty. You hear so many stories about watching games here, how it is an experience like no other. And although there was just a handful of media members on the field when I first saw it, I could quickly envision what it's going to be like starting tomorrow, and I can't wait!And neither can the players. The team is currently in the visitor's clubhouse but will be moving over to the home clubhouse for some of the games next week. It's tighter spaces here than back at the Coliseum, but the players don't seem to mind one bit.Many of them brought along their own cameras and video cameras to capture the moment. A half hour before team stretch, most of the players were already out on the field taking it all in.The relievers found the bullpen placement's behind home plate in a closed in room. So while a pitcher is warming up, facing his bullpen catcher, he can't see the action on the field. But Brian Fuentes quickly explained to the younger guys that there will be a TV in there so they'll know exactly what's going on.I overheard the outfielders discussing the Dome, jokingly concerned that it'll be tough to track a fly ball because the Dome and lights literally are the color of a baseball. Some of the players compared the Dome to Tropicana, but quicklyaknowledged it'll be a scene like no other when the fans are here.As the players took the field for the workout, we put amic on Jerry Blevins, and working along sideMLB Productions whomic'd Jonny Gomes. We'll be featuring this footage ofTokyoDome through the players' eyes on our Japan Special on CSN California."PlayersReact to a New Culture"I hung out in the dugout with the players as they came onto the field before stretching. We all commented on how unique the sunk-in dugout is with two rows of benches, and then two little seats above the steps for the manager and bench coach.And after we got over the new digs, we all recapped the first night in Tokyo. Luckily for the fans wanting to see good baseball from the A's, the players got sleep. I, however, did not. My body woke up at 6 am after a restless five hours of sleep -- maybe it thought I had to attend our3 pm newsroom meeting back home? Without Starbucks in me and minimal sleep over the last few days, I am guessing my internal clock will catch up, but right now the excitement keeps me going.And the players are sharing that same excitement. Tonight they have a free night, and many can't wait to go try some sushi and take in some of the culture."Money Matters"One thing that concerns the players is how much money they are spending. We're all still trying to figure out the Yen translation into US dollars. I've been told a roughguestimate is to drop the last two numbers and you will know a ballpark price range.For example, the soup I had last night was written in the menu at 1,094... so yes, I had a 10 bowl of soup!Wes Timmons was sitting with me when we learned of this shortcut translation...when we started talking money, he joked "it's fun, kind of like we're playing with Monopoly money because you don't really know what you're spending."After, we learned the Yen amount in US dollars."Ok, so I definitely should have eaten more at breakfast," Wes told me, moments after bragging about his great meal. "Apparently I spent 27 for the egg and toast I got at the buffet."It's humbling to see the minor league journeyman watching his dime. After all, he substitute teaches in the offseason to help makes ends meet for his wife and two kids... slightly different than some of the millions of dollars his teammates make each year."On Deck"Tonight we have a "Night on the Town with the Athletics." We will be dining with Brandon Allen, Josh Reddick and CollinCowgill and then hitting up a Karaoke spot. Rumor is Allen is pretty incredible. I am guessing more players will be stopping by as well, so I will send updates American Idol style on Twitter!

New Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna takes jab at A's during media event


New Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna takes jab at A's during media event

While expressing his happiness to be with his new team, Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna took a swipe at the A’s during a media function in St. Louis on Sunday.

Ozuna’s name, you’ll remember, swirled in trade rumors earlier this offseason that he might be dealt from the Miami Marlins to Oakland. Instead, the two-time All-Star was traded to St. Louis, making him one of several big-name players Miami has shipped off as it looks to slash payroll.

While attending the Cardinals’ Winter Warm-Up event to preview this season, Ozuna was asked what it was like being dealt to a team that’s more focused on winning right away as opposed to the rebuilding Marlins.

“I feel happy about that,” Ozuna responded. “First thing when I heard they were trying to trade me to the Oakland A’s, I say … (long pause) Well, I say ‘God, please leave me over here.’ Then I heard they trade me to the Cardinals, I say ‘OK, thanks.’”


Well, it’s not the first time such an insult has been hurled the A’s way, whether directly or indirectly. Last winter, it came out that Matt Holliday — who spent part of 2009 with Oakland — had a no-trade clause included in his contract with the Yankees that prohibited him from being traded only to the A’s.

Is it surprising to hear Ozuna volunteer his thoughts about the A’s in a public forum? Perhaps.

Is it a shock that he’d feel that way in the first place? Definitely not.

It’s no secret the A’s reputation is one of a team that’s always looking to trade its best veteran players rather than spend the money to sign them long term. It’s also common knowledge that they play in an outdated ballpark that’s considered the worst in the majors.

No question, those are the dominant thoughts of players on the other 29 teams when they think of the A’s. And there’s no quick fix to that. National perception is tough to alter.

“Why doesn’t ownership just start spending more money on payroll?” you might ask. “That’s the best way to change perception.”

No arguments there, but we know from the past that isn’t going to happen. Clearly, majority owner John Fisher isn’t going to spend more freely on payroll — especially with the A’s being cut off from MLB’s revenue sharing system — unless he sees the potential for other forms of revenue to stream in.

It all points back to the critical need for the A’s to identify a ballpark site and begin construction on a new home. That will send a message around the majors that a plan is in motion, that better days are ahead.

Until then, the A’s can expect to absorb the occasional jab like that delivered by Ozuna. On the bright side for Oakland fans, they might have just identified Public Enemy No. 2, a player who can slot in right behind Holliday as their favorite opponent to vilify.

A's, Khris Davis avoid arbitration, but is this a long-term union?


A's, Khris Davis avoid arbitration, but is this a long-term union?

The A’s took care of a big piece of business with their top run producer, signing slugger Khris Davis to a one-year contract Wednesday and avoiding arbitration.

FanRag’s Jon Heyman reported the sides settled on a $10.5 million salary. That’s more than double the $5 million Davis made last season in his first trip through the arbitration process, but a huge raise was expected after Davis put up more monster numbers in his second year with Oakland.

His 43 home runs in 2017 ranked second in the American League and he was third in RBI with 110. Consider that Davis is the only major leaguer to crack the 40-homer mark in each of the past two seasons, and only Giancarlo Stanton has more total homers during that span (86 to Davis’ 85).

That obviously makes the 30-year-old Davis a valuable commodity.

“Back to back 40-homer years in this ballpark. You guys don’t talk about it enough,” A’s executive VP of baseball operations Billy Beane said in October. “When we acquired him (in a trade from Milwaukee) we knew we got a guy with a lot of power. I think we were thinking a 30-homer guy. The fact he’s gone 40 back-to-back is pretty amazing. He fits in perfectly here. I think having that big bat that Khris brings helps guys like (Matt) Olson and (Matt) Chapman.”

So it’s clear the A’s value Davis, and that’s why he hasn’t been traded thus far, as many around the game speculated he might be this winter. But where do things go moving forward?

He’ll be eligible for arbitration one more time next winter before he’s able to test free agency heading into the 2020 season. If you’re an A’s fan, you know where this is going. If July hits and the A’s are floundering in the standings, Davis no doubt will be a trade candidate. He’d have appeal as a proven slugger who would remain under team control for 2019.

But Davis is a rare breed. He loves playing in Oakland and doesn’t hide that fact. The pitcher-friendly Coliseum has done nothing to suppress his power. In fact, he’s thrived. His 26 home runs at the Coliseum in 2017 fell one short of Jason Giambi’s Oakland record for homers by a home player.

It would seem he’d be open to a long-term extension, and the sides reportedly have held past discussions about one. The A’s have designs on signing some of their younger core players to extensions. But you’d have to rank it as a surprise were they to actually complete an extension with Davis, given the money he would command.

More than likely, Beane and his staff will evaluate the team through the first half of the upcoming season, weigh the pros and cons of dealing him, and if he stays, enter through this arbitration process again next winter, knowing that he’ll command even more bucks on another one-year deal.

An ‘X’ factor is how Davis adjusts to his shift from left field to designated hitter. He told NBC Sports California in November that he prefers the outfield but will fill whatever role is best for the team.

The feeling here is that he’ll put up the same numbers that fans have grown accustomed to, and the ball will be in the A’s court as to how long he remains in green and gold.