Athletics

A's acquire starter Mike Fiers from the Tigers

A's acquire starter Mike Fiers from the Tigers

In need of starting pitching, the A's have acquired veteran Mike Fiers from the Detroit Tigers.

The teams announced the deal on Monday morning. The A's will send two players to be named later or cash considerations to the Tigers.

To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, the A's designated left-handed pitcher Jeremy Bleich for assignment.

In 21 starts this season, Fiers is 7-6 with a 3.48 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 119 innings pitched. The 33-year-old has issued only 26 walks this season.

The acquisition of Fiers comes a day after the A's traded for reliever Shawn Kelley.

Since June 16, the A's are 33-10 and have climbed up the American League standings. They have overtaken the Mariners for the second AL Wild Card spot and sit 2.5 games behind the Yankees for the first Widl Card spot. In the AL West, the A's have moved to within four games of the defending World Series champion Astros.

The A's will be Fiers' fourth major league team. He's spent time with the Brewers, Astros and Tigers.

A's Khris Davis explains how he fools fans with fake Foot Locker career

A's Khris Davis explains how he fools fans with fake Foot Locker career

Khris Davis agreed to a two-year, $33.5 million extension with the A's on Thursday, an experience very few of us can relate to.

However, Davis is a very relatable guy, at least when it comes to his desire -- or lack thereof -- to discuss his work outside of it.

It turns out that Davis isn't the least bit alone among MLB players when it comes to disguising their true profession. As ESPN's Eddie Matz wrote Thursday, pro baseball players tend to get creative when coming up with fake careers to tell inquiring fans, hotel concierges, and anyone else who might ask what they do for a living at an inopportune time.

Construction worker. Financial advisor. Blimp folder?

Like I said, creative.

Davis keeps his faux career a little more realistic, and one that he can speak on if need be.

"I tell them I work at Foot Locker," Davis informed. "I wouldn't pick a profession that I don't know anything about. I know a little something about shoes. Usually if I use that story, I'm on vacation or somewhere I don't want to be known. Nobody really cares about a shoe salesman, so the conversation doesn't last long."

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Considering the lucrative extension Davis signed, he should be able to afford plenty more vacations.

And more shoes.

How A's J.B. Wendelken overcame Tommy John surgery to become bullpen fixture

How A's J.B. Wendelken overcame Tommy John surgery to become bullpen fixture

OAKLAND – Back in 2016, J.B. Wendelken was just trying to establish himself as a consistent relief pitcher at any level of baseball. 

The Savannah, Georgia native made his MLB debut with the A's that May, but struggled in eight appearances out of the bullpen. He allowed 14 earned runs in just 12 1/3 innings.

Wendelken wasn't much better in Triple-A, registering a 4.11 ERA and 1.61 WHIP in 46 innings for the Nashville Sounds. As it turned out, there was a reason for his struggles: He needed Tommy John surgery.

"It was very tough to stay positive because I knew something wasn't right," Wendelken recently told NBC Sports California. "Every day you go out there, it was something else – some ache, some pain. You knew something wasn't right but I did my best at the time. ... Deciding to do surgery was actually the best decision of my life."

Wendelken missed the entire 2017 season as he recovered from the procedure. He admitted the rehab process was difficult, and often lonely, but he had help staying positive.

"Family. My lovely wife. Everybody kept me on track," Wendelken said. " ... I had some bumpy times coming down that rehab road, but overall, just overcoming that situation, it's eye-opening that you still have family there behind you no matter how low your lows are."

When Wendelken returned to the mound in 2018, he was a brand-new pitcher. The young right-hander was throwing his fastball with precision in the mid-to-high 90s, while also locating his curveball and changeup with pinpoint accuracy. 

"It was life-changing after surgery," he said. "I felt stronger and my confidence was up. ... It was a change for me with the feeling of how healthy I really was and that I could pitch here."

Even Wendelken couldn't have imagined how well he would pitch for the A's last season. In 16 2/3 innings, he allowed just one run, translating to a 0.54 ERA. He notched 14 strikeouts against five walks, and quickly became a trusted member of Oakland's bullpen.

"He was on the playoff roster for a reason," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "It all came together for him after his surgery to where the (velocity) was back and the command was back. His mechanics are as good as they've ever been."

"I definitely outdid my own expectations," Wendelken added. "My goal coming into last year was just to play for myself, try to enjoy the game again, and get back into it. I think I did that well with how I carried myself and went about my business."

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This season, Wendelken has picked up right where he left off, striking out 14 batters in 12 1/3 innings while walking just two. His 3.65 ERA is a little deceiving based on a stellar 0.81 WHIP and 2.65 FIP, which actually is better than last year.

"We expected him to be in this type of role based on what we saw last year," Melvin said. "A lot of guys have compared him to Lou Trivino's ascent. He's got a little bit to do before he gets to that level, but he's pitched himself into a role now where we're using him typically in plus games and, a lot of times, more than one inning."

Now 26 years old, Wendelken's patience and determination have paid off. He is firmly entrenched in the A's bullpen as one of the team's most reliable arms.

And he’s only just getting started.