Athletics

Dontrelle Willis joins A's broadcast team on NBC Sports California

Dontrelle Willis joins A's broadcast team on NBC Sports California

Editor's note: This story originally was published on July 20.

NBC Sports California is adding a high-energy and charismatic presence to their studio crew for the 2020 season with former MLB pitcher-turned-analyst Dontrelle Willis joining the team.

Willis, a two-time MLB All-Star, spent nine seasons playing in the big leagues, and found himself with a knack for an on-air presence.

“As far as the staff, you, Brodie [Brazil], Dallas [Braden], [Dave Stewart] -- it’s a well-rounded cast that just truly enjoys covering the team,” Willis told NBC Sports California. 

“So, I think it shows in your guys’ work so I just want to be the big-little brother and go out there and showcase my talents and my joy as well, but I’ve always been a fan of the way you’ve covered the team and I think fans love the way you cover the team so I’m just trying to get on board and hop on and get a title like everybody else.”

Willis, 38, is a Bay Area native who attended Encinal High School in Alameda. He looked up to Stewart and looks forward to working with him. He's also excited to see some of the young stars the A’s have with a bit of a closer eye.

“Obviously Frankie Montas and Jesús Luzardo is a kid that come to find out, I was one of his favorite players growing up,” Willis said.

“It’s really cool to hear those stories because you never know how far what you do reaches, but I heard at Fan Fest someone asked him who was his favorite player and he said ‘Dontrelle Willis,’ and I’m like, ‘Well hell, I’m more of a fan of him than anything,’ you know what I mean?”

“You can’t be a fan of mine when you throw harder than me,” Willis said.

For Willis, this job of covering the A’s is more than just commentating on the game. 

“I’m truly honored, I mean the whole ball club -- the Oakland A’s saved my life, so I’m truly honored to be a part of this staff and continue to watch them play baseball because they’re one of the better teams in baseball,” Willis said.

Willis spent some time beginning in 2015 working with FOX Sports as a regular studio analyst on the network’s “MLB Whiparound” where he brought his energy and knowledge with an infectious smile.  

[RELATED: Montas revels in opportunity to be A's Opening Day starter]

For his work covering the A's this season, Willis sees all the positives the team has to offer in addition to their pitching. He complimented their hitting and mentioned Marcus Semien, but wanted to give a warning.

“I tell you this much: If you don’t respect the A’s, they’re going to roll over on you," Willis said.

Stephen Piscotty hits game-tying grand slam in ninth inning vs. Giants

Stephen Piscotty hits game-tying grand slam in ninth inning vs. Giants

The 10,000-plus cardboard cutouts at Oracle Park got to witness something great Friday night. 

Following Matt Olson’s solo home run in the top of the ninth, A’s outfielder Stephen Piscotty cleared the bases with a grand slam to tie it at 7-7 against the Giants. 

Piscotty knew it was gone as soon as he hit it.

Piscotty's grand slam was off of Trevor Gott, who ended up up surrendering five runs in the inning before being removed.

According to MLB.com’s Sarah Langs, Piscotty is the 14th player in MLB history with multiple ninth-inning grand slams in a season.

Piscotty hit a walk-off grand slam against the Texas Rangers over a week ago to give the A’s a 5-1 victory. 

There’s something about grand slams and the A’s this season. 

Olson started the season off with a walk-off grand slam over the Los Angeles Angels. It was the first game in league history that went into extra innings since the new rule was implemented in the 2020 season to have a runner on second base beginning in the 10th.

There's something special there. 

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Mark Canha fills Ramón Laureano void with impressive catch vs. Giants

Mark Canha fills Ramón Laureano void with impressive catch vs. Giants

It’s not impossible, but it’ll be difficult to replace Ramón Laureano as he serves his four-game suspension for his role in the benches clearing brawl between the A's and Astros on Sunday.

However, between Chad Pinder and Mark Canha, at least defensively, the A’s should be OK.

Watch this catch by Canha on a deep fly ball hit by Evan Longoria in the bottom of the sixth of Friday night’s game against the Giants:

Canha was on the ground for a while, but appeared to be fine and was back in the game hitting moments later.

The catch was very Laureano-esque if you ask me.

Canha also has been pretty productive at the plate, collecting15 hits in 18 games this season, and he has proven he’s a diverse option in the outfield. He can even be used as the designated hitter if needed.

If that doesn’t work, there’s always Pinder who showed off his own defensive skills against the Los Angeles Angels earlier this week.

A’s manager Bob Melvin has always appreciated versatility, so knowing he has a couple options to fill that void helps.

[RELATED: Why A's will miss Laureano greatly upon suspension]

Laureano reportedly won the appealed on his original six-game suspension after he had an on-field confrontation with Astros’ hitting coach Alex Cintrón who, as Laureano admitted, made a comment about the A’s centerfielder’s mother. He served the first of his four-game suspension Friday.

Cintrón is serving his 20-game suspension for his role in the incident.