Athletics

Healthy Chris Bassitt erratic but effective in A's 6-1 win vs. Rangers

Healthy Chris Bassitt erratic but effective in A's 6-1 win vs. Rangers

OAKLAND -- It's been almost three years since Chris Bassitt had Tommy John surgery. Although he did return to the majors in 2018, the A's right-hander never quite felt fully healthy.

Until now.

"To say that this is the best I've felt would be an understatement," Bassitt said Monday night, after he threw five scoreless innings in his season debut, a 6-1 A's win over the Texas Rangers. "My [velocity] is back, everything is kind of back. To be honest with you, tonight I was not really built up, and conditioning-wise wasn't that great, but I mean, yeah, I'm back."

The 30-year-old struggled a bit with his control at the Coliseum, issuing four walks, but he allowed just two hits and struck out seven.

"Effectively wild, I guess," Bassitt said, with a laugh. "It was kind of just fill the zone up with everything and hope for the best."

A's manager Bob Melvin concurred with that assessment.

"He can be a little bit on the effectively wild side, where he walks a couple of guys, he hits a guy, he goes 3-0 on you, and comes back and strikes you out looking," Melvin said. "It's really tough to figure out where he's going to throw the ball. One's moving, one's cutting, [he has] a real slow curveball. He can kind of slow you down and speed you up.

"He's got a lot of movement, and as the game progressed, he got more and more confidence."

Bassitt hoped to begin the year in the A's rotation, but he suffered a bruised shin when he was struck by a batted ball during one of Oakland's exhibition games in Japan. He recorded an ERA of 3.27, with 16 strikeouts in 11 innings, in three minor-league starts this season.

Now, Bassitt has his first major-league win of the 2019 season. He heaped praise on catcher Josh Phegley for guiding him through Monday's outing and helping him overcome his erratic control.

"It's definitely not fun to walk that many guys because you put yourself in awkward situations a lot," Bassitt said. "But I give a lot of credit to Phegley, just because I don't think I shook one time. Not only that, it was just more so in between innings talking to him and [him] saying, 'Listen, this is what we're going to do. Trust it and let's go get 'em.' "

[RELATED: A's clear big hurdle in Howard Terminal ballpark push]

Despite keeping the Rangers off the scoreboard, Bassitt was frustrated he couldn't pitch deeper into the game to spare Oakland's bullpen. But Melvin was more than content with the outing.

"He gave us what we needed," the manager said. "He came out with a zero on the board and the lead. That's about all we could ask from him today. ...

"It was a great start for him. I know he was excited about his start and wanted to get off to a good start, and he absolutely did. So I know next time out, he'll have a lot of confidence."

Roy Steele, A's 'Voice of God' and legendary PA announcer, dies at Auburn home

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Getty Images

Roy Steele, A's 'Voice of God' and legendary PA announcer, dies at Auburn home

One does not easily earn the "Voice of God" moniker, but when it came to Roy Steele, nothing else would do. 

The long-time public address announcer for the A's passed away Thursday at his home in Auburn, leaving behind a tremendous legacy as one of the most recognizable voices in the history of the game. The A's released a team statement acknowledging his vast contributions to the history of the franchise.

"As the PA voice of the A’s for nearly four decades, his booming baritone filled the Coliseum from the Mustache Gang to Billy Ball, the Bash Brothers and Moneyball," the statement said. "Beloved by all, he touched the lives of generations of A’s fans. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones."

Steele began his tenure as the A's PA announcer starting in 1968 and remained in the position through 2005, though he did make occasional appearances during the 2007-08 season. He covered over 3,000 A's games, including six World Series and an All-Star Game. Throughout his 38 years at the helm, he only missed five days of work.

[RELATED: A's might have to delay targeted 2023 ballpark opening]

His death comes during a sad week for the Oakland franchise. On Sunday, Chester Farrow, who operated the scoreboard at the Coliseum for over 50 years, passed away at the age of 77.

Whenever MLB resumes, one would imagine both longtime employees will be honored.

A's might have to delay targeted 2023 Howard Terminal ballpark opening

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Oakland A's

A's might have to delay targeted 2023 Howard Terminal ballpark opening

The A's have publicly said they plan to open a new ballpark at Oakland's Howard Terminal ahead of the 2023 season.

Those plans could be delayed.

An A's spokesperson admitted to The San Francisco Chronicle's Scott Ostler on Thursday that the team "might have to push back" their targeted opening date. Ostler wrote that "growing political and logistical hurdles," "[coronavirus]-related delays" and a recent federal court ruling could endanger the 2023 target, as could a recent federal court ruling. 

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Oakland's ban on transporting coal through the city in a two-to-one ruling Tuesday. The Sierra Club told Bay Area News Group that there are plans to file another appeal, as they and community leaders have argued that coal dust would add to West Oakland's polluted air. Howard Terminal, which already requires environmental certification before the A's can ever begin construction, is fewer than two miles downwind from the site where Utah coal companies planned to transport coal prior to the city's now-struck-down ban.

[RELATED: Why Braden vehemently opposes MLB's proposal to players]

A's owner John Fisher, who Forbes currently estimates has a net worth of $2.1 billion, announced in a letter to fans Tuesday that the team would cease paying minor leaguers a weekly $400 stipend starting in June and that the team had "implemented a significant temporary furlough of staff positions, and reduced compensation for staff members who are not furloughed."

The A's previously said in a statement to NBC Sports California earlier this month that they deferred their annual $1.25 million rent payment for use of the Oakland Coliseum because the Coliseum Authority "has been unable to make the Coliseum available for use by the A's" during the coronavirus pandemic." Henry Gardener, the Coliseum Authority's interim executive director, told Bay Area News Group that the A's told the stadium authority they "had no ability to pay."