Athletics

With Madson, A's rolling dice on another veteran pitcher

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With Madson, A's rolling dice on another veteran pitcher

The A’s are placing a lot of faith, and committing a significant chunk of money, to two pitchers who have blazed their own unique comeback trails.

On Sunday, Oakland agreed to terms with free agent reliever Ryan Madson on a three-year, $22 million contract that is pending a physical. He joins lefty starter Rich Hill, signed Nov. 20 to a one-year $6 million deal, as key veteran additions to the A’s pitching staff.

Both are 35 years old, and both have overcome their share of adversity. Hill, a longtime reliever who’s been with nine different teams, swallowed his pride and signed on with an independent league team last summer to open up an opportunity to start again. He followed with a brief but excellent September stint in the Boston Red Sox’s rotation.

Madson’s story is even more dramatic. The one-time Phillies closer became so disillusioned with difficulties following reconstructive elbow surgery in 2012 that he eventually retired, only to make a comeback last season as a standout bullpen contributor for the World Series champion Kansas City Royals.

[Source: Ryan Madson, A's agree to three-year deal]

As detailed in a Kansas City Star story from October, Madson decided to give baseball another shot after being reinvigorated when he was asked to tutor a high school pitcher by Royals executive Jim Fregosi, Jr., who had signed Madson with the Phillies. After three full seasons spent away from the majors, Madson carved out a spot in the Royals’ bullpen in 2015 and was a huge boost to a relief corps that lost closer Greg Holland to Tommy John surgery late in the season.

Madson gradually worked his fastball back up to 96 miles per hour last season and paired it with an excellent changeup. He posted a 2.13 ERA in 68 appearances with the Royals, averaging 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings and posting an excellent 0.963 WHIP ratio (walks and hits per innings pitched).

The A’s spent aggressively to land him, as Madson was expected to command a three-year deal more in the $15 million range. Given the price tag, it figures the A’s see him as their primary eighth-inning setup man to closer Sean Doolittle, helping compensate for the trade of lefty Drew Pomeranz. The A’s previously added another power arm in Liam Hendriks, who also figures to work in the late innings, as well as lefty specialist Marc Rzepczynski.

In Hill and Madson, the A’s have shown a willingness to roll the dice on two pitchers approaching the twilight of their careers, giving them each an unlikely opportunity given the way their careers have unfolded to this point.

How both veterans fare in Green and Gold will have a big influence on the A’s fortunes in 2016.

A's vs. Mariners live stream: How to watch MLB games online, on TV

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USATSI

A's vs. Mariners live stream: How to watch MLB games online, on TV

After spending the first week of the 2020 MLB season at home, the A's (3-3) head to the Pacific Northwest for their first road trip.

The A's and Seattle Mariners (3-4) will play a four-game wrap-around series beginning Friday and concluding Monday.

Here's how you can watch the A's play the Mariners online (download the MyTeams app here!) and on NBC Sports California:

Friday, July 31

When: A's Pregame Live at 6 p.m. PT -- First pitch at 6:40 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports California
Stream: MyTeams app

Saturday, Aug. 1

When: A's Pregame Live at 5:30 p.m. PT -- First pitch at 6:10 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports California
Stream: MyTeams app

Sunday, Aug. 2

When: A's Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. PT -- First pitch at 1:10 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports California
Stream: MyTeams app

Monday, Aug. 3

When: A's Pregame Live at 5:30 p.m. PT -- First pitch at 6:10 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports California
Stream: MyTeams app

Dontrelle Willis hilariously reacts to Steve Bartman cutout at A's-Mariners

Dontrelle Willis hilariously reacts to Steve Bartman cutout at A's-Mariners

Of all the cardboard cutouts present at T-Mobile Park for the A's series in Seattle this past weekend against the Mariners, one seemed to stand out. In left field, Steve Bartman, the Chicago Cubs fan who became famous for reaching for a foul ball during an NLCS game against the Florida Marlins in 2003, a game Chicago went on to lose, was right there in the front row.

NBC Sports California analyst Dontrelle Willis was a member of that Marlins squad that went on to win the 2003 World Series, and says he and Moises Alou, the Cubs outfielder who was kept from catching the ball by Bartman, still aren't on the best of terms.

[RELATED: What you might have missed in A's gritty win over Mariners]

"Everytime I see Moises he wants to fight me," Willis quipped Sunday night on Twitter.

Willis was part of the Marlins' rotation from 2003-07, and was named the NL's Rookie of the Year in that season after going 14-6 with a 3.30 ERA.

MLB teams have had to employ cardboard cutouts of fans in lieu of the real thing, as no spectators will be permitted at games during the abbreviated 2020 season as result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Fans have to appreciate that MLB teams like the Mariners are trying to have a little fun in what has been an up-and-down season to say the least.

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