Athletics

UVA product Sean Doolittle reacts to 'disgusting' Charlottesville rally

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USATSI

UVA product Sean Doolittle reacts to 'disgusting' Charlottesville rally

Former A's reliever Sean Doolittle, who is now with the Washington Nationals, is proud of his time at the University of Virginia. Doolittle starred for three years at UVA on the mound and as a first baseman from 2005 to 2007.

But as torch-bearing white supremacists marched in Charlottesville and on the UVA campus Friday night and throughout the day on Satuday, all Doolittle felt was disgust. 

Over five-and-a-half years with the A's, Doolittle built a reputation as an athlete who isn't afraid to speak out on social injustices and he continued to do so on Saturday.

“I hope people not from this area of the country understand that the people that were marching in and around U-Va. and Charlottesville, they’re not from there,” Doolittle said to the Washington Post before the Giants vs Nationals game on Saturday. “These aren’t people that represent the school or the community. This was a rally where people came from other parts of the state, other parts of the region. Because that area, that town, is an incredibly accepting and diverse and embracing community.

“So it’s really frustrating that they chose to go there from the outside just to march and spread their hatred. I just found out that somebody died from the car thing today. It’s past the point of hearing what they have to say, spreading his kind of hatred. Saying, ‘You will not replace us.’…You aren’t the ones at the risk of being quote-unquote replaced by some of this administration’s policies. And it’s just white fear. It’s the worst kind of hatred. It’s disgusting.”

Former Giants manager Dusty Baker, now in his second year leading the Nationals, was also asked about the marches in Charlottesville prior to Saturday's game. 

“It’s part of our society,” Baker said. “Everybody doesn’t feel the same way. It can happen anywhere in the country. That mind-set is not in Charlottesville only. It’s in different parts of our country and I’m just hoping that it doesn’t separate people to the degree that there already is some separation.”

Doolittle's time at UVA will always hold a special place in his heart. He is still close with the baseball program and visits Charlottesville every other offseason. The 30-year-old trusts the community will respond to this hatred in the right way. 

“How the state and the country is going to respond and I think it’s up to the people there, the people in that community, the people of the U-Va. community," Doolittle said. "I know they’re going to step up and they’re not going to let that kind of hatred win. So it’s just really sad.”

Ryan Christenson named bench coach as A's solidify 2018 staff

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Ryan Christenson named bench coach as A's solidify 2018 staff

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 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.