Athletics

A’s name Oakland Coliseum playing surface ‘Rickey Henderson Field’

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AP

A’s name Oakland Coliseum playing surface ‘Rickey Henderson Field’

As a tribute to former Athletic and MLB Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson, the Oakland A’s will name the field at the Oakland Coliseum “Rickey Henderson Field.” The team will dedicate Rickey Henderson Field during a special pregame ceremony on Opening Night, April 3, before the A’s play host to the Los Angeles Angels. Henderson will also serve as a Special Assistant to the President.

“Rickey Henderson is the greatest Athletic of all time. It is fitting we honor and recognize his impact on our franchise by naming our playing field after him,” said Oakland A’s President Dave Kaval. “In addition to his current role on our baseball development staff, I am also excited he will be joining us in the front office to serve as a representative of Green and Gold baseball.” 

“This is an incredible honor and I am humbled that the field I have so many incredible memories on is now named after me,” said Henderson. “I love this organization and our fans and look forward to contributing to our success for many years to come.”

The A’s will also host Rickey Henderson Day during the Saturday, July 15 game versus the Cleveland Indians. As part of this celebration, fans will receive a white Oakland jersey with “Henderson” and “24” on the back.

Tickets for Opening Night and the July 15 Rickey Henderson Day are now on sale. Fans can purchase tickets online at www.athletics.com, over the phone by calling 1-877-493-BALL (2255), or in person at the Oakland Coliseum Gate D Box Office. Fans can lock in the best seats at the lowest price by purchasing a 2017 ticket plan. Plans are available by calling 510-638-GO A's (4627).

Oakland A's media services

Astros, Angels look like A's biggest competition in new-look AL West

Astros, Angels look like A's biggest competition in new-look AL West

After a busy offseason, the AL West could look a lot different than it did a year ago. Every team in the division lost key pieces and will have to adjust to new faces in the clubhouse.

In 2018, the A's made a surprising run to the AL Wild Card game by winning 97 games. But the Astros won the division with 103 victories and are again the heavy favorites to repeat as AL West champions.

Oakland's run to another playoff berth will be challenging, as they've suffered injuries to slugger Matt Olson and top prospect Jesús Luzardo

Regardless, the A's enter 2019 with the goal of playing October baseball once again. But to do so, they'll have to outlast a remade AL West.

[RELATED: MLB Power Rankings]

Here's a breakdown of the A's competition entering the season:

The Favorite: Houston Astros

Newcomers: Michael Brantley (OF), Robinson Chirinos (C), Aledmys Diaz (SS), Wade Miley (SP)

What they lost: Dallas Keuchel (SP), Charlie Morton (SP), Tony Sipp (RP), Marwin Gonzalez (OF), Martin Maldonado (C), Evan Gattis (DH)

Despite losing Charlie Morton and possibly Dallas Keuchel in free agency, the Astros are once again a heavy favorite to win the AL West crown. Houston added left-hander Wade Miley to join Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Collin McHugh in the starting rotation, and their bullpen is still one of the best in baseball.

The Astros will also feature a deep and dynamic lineup, led by MVP candidates Alex Bregman and José Altuve. Michael Brantley and Robinson Chirinos are solid additions and the club returns Carlos Correa, George Springer, and Yuli Gurriel as well.

Until they are dethroned, the Astros are the team to beat in the AL West.

The Contender: Los Angels Angels

Newcomers: Trevor Cahill (SP), Matt Harvey (SP), Cody Allen (RP), Justin Bour (1B), Jonathan Lucroy (C)

What they lost: Garrett Richards (SP), Jose Alvarez (RP), Blake Parker (RP)

The Angels believe they have addressed their starting pitching issues by signing Matt Harvey and former A's pitcher Trevor Cahill. The two veteran right-handers will join Andrew Heaney, Tyler Skaggs, and Jaime Barria in the rotation.

Los Angeles also improved its bullpen by signing former Indians closer Cody Allen. The 30-year-old struggled last season but put together four straight impressive years before that.

The Angels lineup should be productive with Mike Trout, Justin Upton, Albert Pujols, Justin Bour, and Kole Calhoun doing most of the damage. If they find a way to get consistent pitching, they could challenge for a Wild Card spot, if not the division title.

Stock falling: Texas Rangers

Newcomers: Lance Lynn (SP), Jesse Chavez (RP), Shawn Kelley (RP), Shelby Miller (SP), Hunter Pence (OF)

What they lost: Adrián Beltré (3B), Jurickson Profar (INF), Robinson Chirinos (C), Matt Moore (SP), Alex Claudio (RP)

The Rangers could be in for a long season. After winning just 67 games a year ago, Texas lost Adrián Beltré to retirement and Jurickson Profar to the A's.

The Rangers' pitching staff was the biggest problem last season, finishing with a combined ERA of 4.93. That ranked 28th out of MLB's 30 teams. Texas did add starters Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller, as well as relievers Jesse Chavez and former Athletic Shawn Kelley.

The Rangers may be slightly better than last year, but it will be a massive surprise if they end up anywhere near .500.

Roster overhaul: Seattle Mariners

Newcomers: Yusei Kikuchi (SP), Hunter Strickland (RP), Cory Gearrin (RP), Edwin Encarnación (DH), Mallex Smith (OF), Jay Bruce (OF), Domingo Santana (OF), Tim Beckham (SS)

What they lost: Edwin Diaz (RP), James Paxton (SP), Nelson Cruz (DH), Robinson Cano (2B), Jean Segura (SS), Juan Nicasio (RP), Alex Colome (RP), Mike Zunino (C), Ben Gamel (OF)

Despite winning 89 games last year, the Mariners completely overhauled their roster with an eye on the future. Seattle cut ties with stars like Edwin Diaz, James Paxton, Nelson Cruz, and Robinson Cano.

The Mariners did add highly-touted Japanese pitcher Yusei Kikuchi and former Giants closer Hunter Strickland, both of whom pitched well against the A's last week in Tokyo. Seattle's lineup was also productive in the season-opening series against Oakland.

While the Mariners are a long shot to contend, they certainly have talent and could surprise teams in the AL West.

Matt Olson optimistic A's can fill void at first base in his absence

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USATSI

Matt Olson optimistic A's can fill void at first base in his absence

OAKLAND – It really was a freak injury. One swing of the bat, a seemingly inconsequential foul ball.

But during Thursday's loss to the Seattle Mariners in Tokyo, Matt Olson knew right away something was wrong.

"I generally have a pretty high pain tolerance," the A's first baseman said Sunday. "I couldn't grip the bat when I came back (to the dugout) so I knew something was up."

It turned out Olson had fractured the hamate bone in his right hand. He underwent hamate excision surgery Friday in Los Angeles, and will be out indefinitely.

"It sucks," Olson admitted. "The timing of it is good and bad. Good because I get five or six days here to get ahead, but it sucks because it's the beginning of the year and you work all offseason to get to this point."

A's manager Bob Melvin added: "There are certain guys who you feel like are a little more replaceable than others. He's a tough one. ... He makes everybody in the infield better. All you've got to do is get it over in his direction. He's got a wide wingspan and he picks everything out of the dirt.

"It's tough not having him out there, but that's why we have a Mark Canha, a (Jurickson) Profar, and a Chad Pinder. It gives somebody else an opportunity."

Olson was not given a timetable for his return, but he noted a wide variance in other players with the same injury, anywhere from four to eight weeks. While he's obviously disappointed, he believes the team can survive without him.

"We've got guys -- Canha, Pinder, (Franklin) Barreto, and Profar -- all of those guys are very established and have good at-bats," Olson said. "They're guys who are going to get more at-bats because of it. I don't think it's a bad thing. It sucks for me, but I'm glad these guys are going to get a little more regular playing time."

[RELATED: A's have options at first base in light of Olson injury]

Although he hasn't missed any games yet, Olson joked he has already experienced the effects of sporting a cast on his right hand in his everyday life.

"I had to go to the store today to get stuff for my apartment. I got a ton of stuff. Then I got to the apartment complex, and thought I was going to have to make like five trips because I can only carry things with one hand," he laughed.

As Olson adjusts to life with just one functional hand, the A's must adjust to life without Olson's powerful bat in the lineup and his slick glove in the field. In both cases, it will be a difficult process.