Athletics

Henderson touched by field dedication: 'My heart and soul is forever Oakland'

Henderson touched by field dedication: 'My heart and soul is forever Oakland'

OAKLAND — Rickey Henderson’s ties to the Coliseum run deep, and they go back further than the time the Oakland product wore an A’s uniform.

“I used to come to the ballpark, a lot of time I didn’t have the money to buy a ticket,” he recalled. “Somehow we would find a way to get into the ballpark.”

The A’s are making a renewed effort to honor their legends from the past, and the first major step in that came Monday night when the A’s dedicated the playing surface at the Coliseum as Rickey Henderson Field.

Henderson attended a pregame ceremony before the Opening Night game against the Los Angeles Angels, and he took part in a news conference sitting alongside A’s president Dave Kaval, who he credited for welcoming former A’s players with open arms back into the fold.

He reminisced about his time coming to A’s games as a kid. As it turns out, the major leagues’ all-time stolen base king was putting his speed to use at an early age.

“I probably was stealing my way in as a kid,” he said with a smile. “They used to have the bleachers out there, they used to just have a fence. So we would find a way to get underneath the fence or hop the fence and then during game time, we would sneak in and see the ballgame.”

Did he ever get caught?

“No, I think I was too fast. The kids behind me, they got caught.”

Henderson will serve as a special assistant to Kaval, but he’ll also continue his role as a roving minor league instructor and he’ll occasionally accompany the big league team. Kaval, who hosts open office hours on Tuesdays for fans to drop by to share their ideas, credited a fan with the idea of naming the field after someone. Right away, Henderson popped into Kaval’s head.

“It’s the least we can do to honor such an amazing person,” Kaval said, “not only in baseball — really, an American treasure — but also in this community of Oakland.”

After a video tribute to Henderson on the JumboTron, the Hall of Fame left fielder entered the field through the center field gate to a loud ovation.

“My heart and soul is forever Oakland,” he told the crowd during a speech he gave from in front of the pitcher’s mound.

Then Henderson went down the line of A’s players lined up on the third-base line and high-fived each and every one of them.

During his news conference, he said he hopes he can help in the efforts to get more kids playing baseball again in Oakland.

“First of all, we’ve got find a way to build ballparks,” he said. “I think when I was coming up we had a lot more ballparks. … Today, I think the families, both the mother and the father, have to work. They don’t have the time.

“I know a lot of kids wanna play baseball, but they feel they don’t have nowhere to go. It’s costing too much to get on a traveling team to play. So they give up on baseball and go play football or basketball.”

Henderson also had thoughts to share when asked about the Raiders leaving Oakland for Las Vegas.

“I’m a Raider season ticket holder, so that hurt my heart,” he said. “ … I think the fans were behind them 100 percent. For them to leave once, then come back and leave again, I think it’s hurting us a lot more. I’m really disappointed the city and the Raiders didn’t get together and work out a deal for us to keep the team here.” As for getting the Coliseum field named after him, Henderson said the honor touched him deeply.

“When I was growing up in Oakland as a kid, playing in the parks around the ballpark, I had no idea this chance would ever come,” he said. “… This is just a special moment.”

 

With playoffs looming, Brett Anderson shows A's a glimmer of hope

With playoffs looming, Brett Anderson shows A's a glimmer of hope

OAKLAND -- In what is now a 10-game season for the Oakland Athletics, every game not started by Mike Fiers, Edwin Jackson or Bull J. Pen is essentially a mini-referendum on how manager Bob Melvin decides to set his postseason pitching rotation.
 
Or, to use Melvin’s words after the A’s 10-0 dance party over the Los Angeles Angels Tuesday, “We’re obviously going to need than just the two guys, so yeah, I guess you can put it that way.”
 
And then he knocked on the dry wall he was leaning against in the A’s clubhouse to ward off bad juju. The A’s aren’t a playoff team yet, and superstitious old goat that he is, Melvin never leaves anything available for hexing.
 
“That is,” he said, “if we get in.”
 
Enter Brett Anderson, throwing nothing but sliders and sinkers and becoming the first A’s starter in almost a month to reach, let alone get an out, in the seventh inning. In limiting the Angels to three harmless singles and forcing them to pound 12 ground-ball outs, Anderson left an impression that both he and his manager hopes can linger awhile, if only to minimize the temptation to bullpen a playoff game.
 
Knock dry-wall.
 
“It was good to be a reason we were winning instead of a reason we were losing,” Anderson said, referencing his skittish start in Baltimore against the laughable Orioles a week ago. “Tonight, it was pretty much just having early control and quick outs.”
 
And a six-run fourth inning doesn’t hurt, either. Two two-run doubles by Jed Lowrie and Stephen Piscotty jumped Angels starter Felix Pena, followed up an inning later by Piscotty’s three-run homer off Parker Bridwell, gave Anderson all the cover he could have wanted, and the rest was him showing Melvin that he can be a trustworthy part of a playoff rotation.
 
Knock dry-wall.
 
“It’s been hard (to extend starters into a third swing through the opposition order) the way we’re set up,” Melvin said, “but Brett was just so efficient tonight. I think he threw two breaking balls the whole night, and I thought he had a pretty good one in the bullpen.”
 
Pitching coach Scott Emerson thought it might have been three, and Anderson barely remembers any. But the two pitches Anderson did favor were more than plenty to stop the trickle of blood caused by a three-game losing streak and the refusals of either the New York Yankees or Tampa Bay Rays to lose when the A’s need them to do so the most.
 
As it was, the A’s whittled one unit off their magic number for clinching a playoff by taking matters into their own hands, and moved back to four behind Houston, which lost to Seattle. Thus, the earliest they can clinch their place in October would be Saturday, and that presumes that the Rays will ever lose again, which in their present state may simply be too much to conceive.
 
So let’s just say that the A’s will have to do what must be done without the kindnesses of the strangers closest to them in the standings. Let’s also say that the most important of the 10 important games left will be the ones in which either Anderson (this coming Monday in Seattle and Sunday in Los Angeles) or Trevor Cahill (Friday against Minnesota and Wednesday in Seattle) start. I mean, bullpenning is a kicky little way to get through a day here or there, but the playoffs are a difficult time to go experimental. Besides, the wild card game is essentially a bullpenning game anyway if the starter struggles early.
 
And with that last reference to the postseason, we take our nightly leave of Oakland, where Bob Melvin is frantically knocking on his desk, which is made of actual wood rather than mere dry-wall. He is nothing is not devoted to his superstitions.

Stephen Piscotty drives in five, A's crush Angels to snap losing streak

Stephen Piscotty drives in five, A's crush Angels to snap losing streak

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- Stephen Piscotty hit a three-run homer and matched his career high with five RBIs, and the Oakland Athletics beat the Los Angeles Angels 10-0 on Wednesday night to snap a three-game losing streak.

Oakland moved within four games of first-place Houston in the AL West and stayed 2 1/2 behind the New York Yankees for the top wild card. The A's are 5 1/2 games ahead of streaking Tampa Bay for the second wild card with 10 to play.

Jed Lowrie and Piscotty each hit a two-run double in a six-run fourth inning to back Brett Anderson (4-5).

Ramon Laureano added an RBI single and a sacrifice fly for the A's, who had lost four of five.

Anderson pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up three hits with three strikeouts and no walks. Three relievers finished the four-hitter as Oakland's 14th shutout of the season took just 2 hours, 23 minutes.

Anderson delivered the longest outing by an A's starter in 26 games, becoming the first to go more than six innings during that stretch - which has included manager Bob Melvin starting games with a reliever who works just one inning before giving way to a regular starter. The 25 straight games with a starter going six or fewer innings was the second-longest in franchise history.

The left-hander made his second start since coming off the disabled list and taking the loss last Thursday in Baltimore, where he lasted only 3 1/3 innings. He has walked one or fewer batters in each of his past 10 starts, with just five free passes over 54 2/3 innings during that stretch.

Anderson retired his first eight batters and got through the second inning on five pitches.

Angels starter Felix Pena (3-5) was done after the fourth, allowing six runs on six hits with three strikeouts and a walk. The right-hander retired his first nine batters.

Los Angeles shortstop Sherman Johnson made his major league debut in the sixth for the Angels, who were shut out for the 10th time.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Angels: RF Kole Calhoun, who was 0 for 5 with three strikeouts a night earlier, had the day off. ... Rookie 2B and utilityman David Fletcher, who exited Sunday's game against Seattle in the first inning with a strained left hamstring, missed a second straight game and won't be rushed back.

Athletics: RHP Trevor Cahill, scratched from his scheduled Saturday start at Tampa Bay with a strain in his upper back before getting trigger-point injections, threw a 35-pitch bullpen and could start this weekend against the Twins if everything feels right Thursday. "We'll see how he feels tomorrow. If he feels good tomorrow, then we'll probably slot him in some point in time on the weekend," Melvin said. ... LHP Sean Manaea had arthroscopic shoulder surgery performed by Dr. Neil ElAttrache in Los Angeles that included posterior labral repair. The A's said Manaea will begin his rehab program Monday in Arizona.

UP NEXT:
Angels: RHP Matt Shoemaker (2-1, 3.98 ERA) makes his fifth start of the season after returning Sept. 3 from a strained right forearm. He is 6-2 with a 3.61 ERA in 13 career appearances (12 starts) against the A's.

Athletics: RHP Edwin Jackson (5-3, 3.17) beat the Angels in a 7-0 A's road win on Aug. 11.