Athletics

Dave Stewart confident in A's rotation filled with 'future superstars'

Dave Stewart confident in A's rotation filled with 'future superstars'

The A's vocalized how confident they are in their rotation prior to Wednesday's spring training report date.

That confidence stretches beyond the coaching staff and all the way to former A's pitcher Dave Stewart.

Stewart, now an analyst with NBC Sports California, sees bright spots in the young arms for the 2020 season.

"I do like the rotation that we could possibly be seeing in the upcoming year," Stewart told NBC Sports California back in December. "It'll be pretty dominant if the kids that pitch in the rotation that we think are."

Stew mentioned the combination of lefty power arms in A.J. Puk, Sean Manaea, and Jesús Luzardo. Adding right-handers Mike Fiers and Frankie Montas, has the A's pitching squad looking very promising.

"In my opinion, that now brings your rotation that's respectable, and will probably be, if you really look at the rotation, assuming that they're going to be successful," Stewart added.

Stewart admitted, despite the exciting times ahead with this group, "today's baseball" isn't something he's used to -- especially with piggy-back starters. He's asked often if any of the pitchers on the staff remind him of his younger self. 

"Today's brand of baseball is way different from my brand of baseball, so there are no reminders of me," he laughed.

Stewart, who recently had his No. 34 jersey retired by the A's, is often around the team to offer advice on anything they might need.

"We have to be careful of innings pitched because most of the kids that are coming to the big leagues, at this point in time, they have not logged major league innings," Stewart said. "They haven't pitched 100, 175 innings in a season."

You always have to look to the future organizationally. And how you can best keep these kids healthy so that a year from now, two years from now, three years from now, they've adapted and now they've become mainstays."

The 6-foot-7 Puk underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2018, and by the looks of it from his throwing sessions on Wednesday, he fortunately looks healthy and strong. He came out of the bullpen last season during his 10 games in the bigs, but is slated to be a starter this season.

[RELATED: A's couldn't be more excited about pitching this year]

Despite a few setbacks, Luzardo made his highly anticipated debut in 2019 and was sensational, finishing his short campaign with a 1.50 ERA and 0.67 WHIP over 12 innings. The A's also will get a full season of Frankie Montas after missing a chunk of time last year due to a PED-related suspension

"It'll be a rotation that has depth from one through five, capabilities of winning on any given day, because all those kids, they're, in my opinion, future superstars as starting pitchers," Stewart said.

Brett Anderson offers hilarious reason why A's can't cheat like Astros

Brett Anderson offers hilarious reason why A's can't cheat like Astros

The Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal has enveloped baseball this offseason.

As spring training prepares to get underway, marquee players from every team have been teeing off on the 2017 World Series champions, who used technology to steal signs and alert hitters to what pitches were coming by banging a trash can. 

With the Astros taking fire as the black sheep of baseball, it's fair to wonder what other MLB teams either are toeing the line or crossing it when it comes to sign stealing. But if you're wondering if the A's might have a similar system to the one the Astros used, former Athletic Brett Anderson is here to pop your bubble.

“I know the A’s weren’t cheating,” Anderson told The Athletic. “Because, one, I don’t know if they could afford it. And to relay from f---ing 300 yards away in the video room? What were we going to do, get some vendor to throw some popcorn up in the air, or something? It’s too f---ing far to relay something.

“The lights go out, it’s a curveball,” Anderson said. “If there’s a sewage backup, it’s a fastball.”

Honestly ... fair point.

[RELATED: A's Piscotty carried mother's torch by trying to defeat ALS]

The Astros will be a topic of conversation all season and no one really knows how each team and opposing fan base will react when Houston comes to their park.

The A's will host the Astros at the Coliseum in the second series of the season, a three-game set from March 30-April 1. 

Stephen Piscotty carrying mother's torch by raising funds, awareness for ALS

Stephen Piscotty carrying mother's torch by raising funds, awareness for ALS

MESA, Ariz. – Gretchen Piscotty was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in May 2017, with the debilitating disease progressing far faster than doctors expected. ALS has no known cause and no known cure, a neurodegenerative disease that eventually causes the loss of mobility, muscle control and the ability to breathe.

The Piscotty family did not go through this difficult time in private. Gretchen and the Piscotty family opened their doors to share this tragic tale, amplifying it with Stephen Piscotty’s status as a major-league baseball player.

The Pleasanton native was playing for the St. Louis Cardinals when his mother was diagnosed. He requested and was granted a trade to his hometown A’s to be closer to his mom during this time of need, when the Piscotty family and their close friends rallied to help a mother of three and a woman who supported so many for so long.

“My mom, when she was sick, was doing a lot of interviews where people were coming into the home, which was a bit uncomfortable considering the situation,” Stephen Piscotty said Tuesday. “She did that not because she enjoyed it but to help spread the word in hopes that others wouldn’t have to suffer.”

The Piscotty family has continued that effort since her passing on May 7, 2018, by creating the ALS CURE Project, a charitable organization created to help fight and eventually beat this terrible disease.

“We’re just trying to carry the torch with this charity,” Piscotty said, “and our efforts to raise funds and awareness.”

Stephen’s father Mike spearheads the effort and runs the organization, which is expanding its fundraising efforts.

“He had a bit of an ‘ah-ha’ moment where he decided what he wanted to do immersed himself in community and terminology,” Piscotty said. “It’s incredible to see how much he has soaked in. My job is to help and promote and use my platform as best I can. We’re doing a good job as a team, and he’s working on the nuts and the bolts and I’m here to champion it whenever possible.”

[RELATED: What makes Chappy so confident in self, A's for 2020 season]

That time is now, with the first in a series of ALS CURE events coming up Friday at the Brandon Crawford Charity Golf Tournament in Phoenix. The Giants shortstop also grew up in Pleasanton as a star baseball player and, although their paths didn’t cross much back then, Crawford and Piscotty have become friends in recent years. Their fathers know each other, creating a link that prompted the Crawfords to donate proceeds of the event to the ALS CURE Project.

“I’ve gotten to know him quite a bit over the past few years playing against him,” Piscotty said. They’ve been so gracious putting on this tournament for us, really. It has been great.”

The Piscottys will host their inaugural ALS CURE Project Golf Tournament on May 18 at Orinda Country Club, and the Athletics will host an annual ALS Awareness Day at Oakland Coliseum on May 24 when they play the Los Angeles Angels. Funds raised during that game will benefit the Piscottys’ organization.

“It’s great to see the involvement from so many in and around baseball,” Stephen Piscotty said. “Our story, like so many others, has touched a lot of people without the disease in their family. We’re trying to bring more awareness to a very rare disease.

“We feel like we need to push in that regard because it really is devastating. It feels very underfunded in regard to a research community that could create a drastic impact with the proper resources.”

For more information: alscure.net.
To donate:https://www.gofundme.com/f/piscottyals2019
To sign up for the ALS Cure Project golf tournament:https://alscure.ejoinme.org/MyEvents/ALSCUREProject1stAnnualGolfTournament/SponsorshipsandRegistrations/tabid/1129471/Default.aspx