Athletics

Athletics extend protective netting to far ends of dugouts

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Athletics extend protective netting to far ends of dugouts

OAKLAND — The Oakland Athletics will expand protective netting between the stands and the playing field to the far ends of both dugouts ahead of the 2018 season.

The netting will be a similar green color as the grass on the field to reduce the visual distraction to fans in attendance and those watching on television, the team said Tuesday. The A's will also expand the netting at the team's spring training ballpark in Mesa, Arizona.

Team President Dave Kaval said the extra safety measures are consistent with recommendations from Major League Baseball.

"We are committed to delivering a great experience while also ensuring the safety of our fans,” Kaval said. “The additional netting coverage is in line with the safety recommendations by Major League Baseball.”

Boston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Colorado, Detroit, the New York Yankees, Milwaukee, Minnesota, San Diego, Seattle and Toronto are among teams to announce expanded netting this year.

By the end of last season, Atlanta, Houston, Kansas City, Minnesota, the New York Mets, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Texas and Washington had netting that reached the far ends of the dugouts.

Evaluating A's arbitration in 2018 MLB offseason: Liam Hendriks

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Evaluating A's arbitration in 2018 MLB offseason: Liam Hendriks

(Over the next week, we will be examining each of the A's arbitration-eligible players to determine whether they will return in 2019.)

It was a roller coaster season for Liam Hendriks in 2018. After being designated for assignment in June, the right-hander returned to the A's for a stellar September and ended up starting the American League Wild Card Game at Yankee Stadium.

Hendriks, 29, finished the season 0-1 with a 4.13 ERA, but in September he allowed just two runs in 13 innings for an ERA of 1.38. By the end of the year, he had raised his fastball velocity to 96 mph on a consistent basis and was a completely different pitcher.

Hendriks earned $1.9 million for the season and is projected to get $2.1 million in arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors.

Why he might be a bargain

If Hendriks can maintain the stuff he displayed in September, he can be a valuable member of the A's bullpen moving forward. With Jeurys Familia, Fernando Rodney, Shawn Kelley, and Cory Gearrin all unlikely to return, Hendriks should have an opportunity to pitch significant innings. It remains to be seen whether Oakland utilizes an opener in any games next season, but Hendriks has proven capable of filling that role as well. That type of versatility could make him worth a $2.1 million salary.

Why he might be too pricey

You could certainly argue that $2.1 million is too much for a journeyman reliever like Hendriks. While he pitched well in September, that's a pretty small sample size for a fairly significant price tag, and Hendriks did struggle early in the season. The A's have a strong bullpen even if they do lose some of their veteran relievers, including Hendriks. Blake Treinen, Lou Trivino, J.B. Wendelken, Yusmeiro Petit, and Ryan Buchter should all return, so Hendriks may not be not absolutely essential.

Verdict

This one could go either way. We'll say that Hendriks showed enough in September to earn another season with the A's. Between his improved velocity and versatility as a pitcher, he can be a valuable member of the Oakland bullpen. If the A's do continue to experiment with using an opener, Hendriks was their best pitcher in that role and should continue to be a good option. They can also use him later in the game as a setup man for Treinen. Most importantly, you can never have too much pitching depth.

A's third baseman Matt Chapman undergoes left thumb surgery

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A's third baseman Matt Chapman undergoes left thumb surgery

The A's announced that 25-year-old third baseman Matt Chapman underwent successful left thumb surgery Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Dr. Steven Shin performed an ulnar sided sesamoid bone excision and expects Chapman to make a full recovery to be ready for the start of spring training.

The thumb issue had bothered Chapman last spring training and at times during the season. Despite that, he slashed .278/.356/.508 with 24 home runs, 42 doubles, and 68 RBI.

Chapman was also one of the best defensive players in baseball, leading MLB with 29 defensive runs saved. His 8.2 WAR ranked seventh in the league.

Chapman was a first-round draft pick of the A's in 2014. He has played two major league seasons, batting .263 for his career.