Journeyman Chris Smith's unique run with A's comes to an end


Journeyman Chris Smith's unique run with A's comes to an end

The next chapter of Chris Smith’s long and winding baseball career will unfold outside of Oakland.

The pitcher was outrighted off the A’s 40-man roster and chose to become a free agent.

Smith’s stats in an A’s uniform won’t jump off the page, but the 36-year-old journeyman made an impact over his two years in the organization, serving as an example of perseverance and positive energy for the much younger pitchers on the staff.

He spent six years away from the majors before catching on with the A’s in 2016 and appearing in 13 games out of the bullpen. That time away saw him pitch for two indy league teams and even enroll at UC Riverside and serve as an undergraduate coach with the Highlanders when it appeared his playing days were done.

It’s no surprise, then, that Smith wore a huge grin as he approached a start at Safeco Field this past July, making him the oldest pitcher in A’s history to be making his first career major league start. The right-hander was solid over his first three starts, allowing seven earned runs over 19 innings and providing some reinforcement for an injury-plagued and inconsistent starting staff. He’d encounter rockier times in both a starting and relieving role for the rest of the season, finishing with an 0-4 record and 6.79 ERA in 14 games (9 starts).

Smith’s big league debut came back in 2008 with Boston. That’s also the season he recorded his only career victory to date.

The A’s have numerous younger pitchers they will turn to next season. But they’re also expected to spend a bulk of their offseason efforts trying to fortify their pitching staff, both the rotation and bullpen, after finishing 12th in the American League with a 4.67 team ERA.

Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani cleared to begin throwing


Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani cleared to begin throwing

ANAHEIM — The Los Angeles Angels say two-way star Shohei Ohtani’s elbow ligament is continuing to heal and he has been medically cleared to begin a throwing progression.

The team said Ohtani was given a six-week evaluation Thursday by Dr. Steve Yoon at the Kerlan Jobe Institute. The Angels said they would release specifics about his progress and rehabilitation schedule at another time.

Ohtani was placed on the disabled list with an ulnar collateral ligament sprain on June 8 after complaining about tightness in his right elbow following a June 6 start against Kansas City. The Japanese sensation has since returned to the roster as a designated hitter, but his prospects to pitch remain unclear.

He is hitting .283 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs. On the mound, Ohtani won four of his first five decisions before getting injured.

Khris Davis happy in Oakland, hopes to stay with A's long term


Khris Davis happy in Oakland, hopes to stay with A's long term

For A's slugger Khris Davis, Oakland has felt like home from day one. And the numbers prove it.

Since the start of the 2016 season, when Davis was traded to the Athletics by Milwaukee, only Giancarlo Stanton has hit more home runs, in all of baseball.

Now in his third season wearing the green and gold, the 30-year-old Davis hopes to play in Oakland for years to come.

“I envision myself winning a championship in Oakland,” he said. “I think there's a lot of tradition here. It's got a rich history of championships. I feel like I could bring a championship to Oakland one day.”

It appears the A's would like to see Davis stay in Oakland as well. According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the team has had talks with his agent, Lou Nero of Octagon Baseball, about a multi-year deal.

This season, Davis is earning a team-high $10.5 million. He is under arbitration control for next year, where he would likely get a raise to around $15 million. He is slated to become a free agent after the 2019 season.

While the A's tend to stay away from long-term contracts, it would make sense to re-sign Davis for at least a few years. He has been a powerful force in the lineup the last three seasons, and shows no signs of slowing down. After crushing 42 home runs in 2016, and 43 in 2017, Davis has a chance to make it three consecutive years with 40-plus homers and 100-plus runs batted in.

“Certain guys make their teammates better, and Khris Davis is that guy for us,” said manager Bob Melvin. “He's a presence that the other team feels. He's always one swing away from a three-run homer. He just makes our lineup deeper and kind of takes the pressure off everybody else. He's been terrific since the day he got here.”

Davis has done his best to just focus on baseball, and leave the negotiations to his agent. But he has made it known that he loves playing in Oakland.

“I like the clubhouse,” he said. “We've got a great group of guys I like to be around, and just grow with them on a daily basis. I like where I'm at right now. Whatever happens, happens in the future. It's a business, but at the same time, I'm happy and I can't complain.”

“I know he's really comfortable here,” Melvin added. “There are certain places where guys just feel at home and comfortable, and this is the place for him.”