Athletics

New Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna takes jab at A's during media event

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AP

New Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna takes jab at A's during media event

While expressing his happiness to be with his new team, Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna took a swipe at the A’s during a media function in St. Louis on Sunday.

Ozuna’s name, you’ll remember, swirled in trade rumors earlier this offseason that he might be dealt from the Miami Marlins to Oakland. Instead, the two-time All-Star was traded to St. Louis, making him one of several big-name players Miami has shipped off as it looks to slash payroll.

While attending the Cardinals’ Winter Warm-Up event to preview this season, Ozuna was asked what it was like being dealt to a team that’s more focused on winning right away as opposed to the rebuilding Marlins.

“I feel happy about that,” Ozuna responded. “First thing when I heard they were trying to trade me to the Oakland A’s, I say … (long pause) Well, I say ‘God, please leave me over here.’ Then I heard they trade me to the Cardinals, I say ‘OK, thanks.’”

Ouch.

Well, it’s not the first time such an insult has been hurled the A’s way, whether directly or indirectly. Last winter, it came out that Matt Holliday — who spent part of 2009 with Oakland — had a no-trade clause included in his contract with the Yankees that prohibited him from being traded only to the A’s.

Is it surprising to hear Ozuna volunteer his thoughts about the A’s in a public forum? Perhaps.

Is it a shock that he’d feel that way in the first place? Definitely not.

It’s no secret the A’s reputation is one of a team that’s always looking to trade its best veteran players rather than spend the money to sign them long term. It’s also common knowledge that they play in an outdated ballpark that’s considered the worst in the majors.

No question, those are the dominant thoughts of players on the other 29 teams when they think of the A’s. And there’s no quick fix to that. National perception is tough to alter.

“Why doesn’t ownership just start spending more money on payroll?” you might ask. “That’s the best way to change perception.”

No arguments there, but we know from the past that isn’t going to happen. Clearly, majority owner John Fisher isn’t going to spend more freely on payroll — especially with the A’s being cut off from MLB’s revenue sharing system — unless he sees the potential for other forms of revenue to stream in.

It all points back to the critical need for the A’s to identify a ballpark site and begin construction on a new home. That will send a message around the majors that a plan is in motion, that better days are ahead.

Until then, the A’s can expect to absorb the occasional jab like that delivered by Ozuna. On the bright side for Oakland fans, they might have just identified Public Enemy No. 2, a player who can slot in right behind Holliday as their favorite opponent to vilify.

Why A's wild-card loss to Rays still stings Sean Manaea months later

Why A's wild-card loss to Rays still stings Sean Manaea months later

OAKLAND -- "Yeah, that was -- that was tough -- it was really tough. That sucked."

It was as if it were yesterday.

Sean Manaea was sitting in the A's clubhouse which was filled with chaos and yet hauntingly quiet. The starting pitcher had a plate of food in front of him -- pasta and steak. It was untouched. He was staring off into space.

It was Oct. 2, 2019, and Oakland had just lost 5-1 to the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Wild Card Game, in front of a record-breaking crowd of 54,005. The A's pitcher received starter responsibilities over a possible Mike Fiers. 

That's where the finger-pointing began. But Manaea blamed himself. 

He was credited with the loss. In two innings of playoff ball, he gave up four hits and three home runs.

"At that point in time, I really felt like everything was on me, so I was just wearing the brunt of that and just feeling really down on myself and then -- I was very sad and very upset," Manaea told NBC Sports California at A's Media Day on Friday. 

After a while, Manaea got away from it all, realizing that the weight of the loss was not all on him even though he started that day.

"Honestly, I'm really happy that kind of happened, he said. "I'm not happy that we lost, but that experience, that whole 'learning how to deal with that,' how to deal with a situation where there's that many people there and in a playoff game.

"Just being there and knowing I could have done way worse and I'm still here, I'm still kicking, just valuable information."

The A's didn't help Manaea in the cause. In 33 at-bats, the team accumulated just eight hits and eight total bases with one RBI. 

Manaea appears to possess one of those -- what I like to call -- resting smiley faces. Always happy. He shifted a bit when I brought up the wild-card game, but just as he said, he bounced back to his normal, happy self. 

"Honestly, I think it just spring-boarded me into how I feel now which is as confident as I'll ever be."

That confidence shows.

Nobody blamed Manaea for the loss. Not A's manager Bob Melvin, not his teammates. Not even Mike Fiers, who some argued should have started that day. 

Nobody.

Now, he doesn't blame himself, either. 

[RELATED: Matt Chapman discusses where he ranks among elite 3B]

Manaea heads into the 2020 season as part of a promising starting pitching rotation including Fiers. Top prospects A.J. Puk and Jesus Luzardo could join them, and the A's should get a full season of Frankie Montas after he was suspended for 80 games in 2019.

One of the team's main goals is to avoid the one-and-done game scenario the wild-card matchup brings. That way, Manaea can hopefully enjoy his steak and pasta in peace. 

Matt Chapman Q&A: A's star discusses life in MLB, favorite actor

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USATSI

Matt Chapman Q&A: A's star discusses life in MLB, favorite actor

Matt Chapman was drafted by Oakland in 2014 and has been with the A’s since mid-2017. You’d think by now, we’d have a pretty good grasp on who the multi-platinum third baseman actually is. However this past weekend at A's FanFest, we got to learn more about the real “Chappy."
 
NBC Sports California: Number one piece of tech in your backpack for road trips?
Matt Chapman: The number one piece of tech that I make sure is on every flight and trip is our giant team speaker that goes on the bus and on the plane. I’ve been the DJ for the last two or three years, but I’m always willing to give up the reigns.
 
Most important aspect of a good walk-up song?
It gets you fired up.
 
Something you need to get done in the on-deck circle?
Make my bat feel light, I use one big donut.
 
Best thing to tell a teammate after they made an error?
Nothing. You should always let your teammate know you are there for them, and everything, but if I made an error and somebody came up to me, I would be like - get away.
 
Team potluck dinner, what does Matt Chapman bring?
I wish I could bring fish tacos. That’s one of my favorite foods. I just don’t know if I’d be able to cook them.
 
Which teammate gives the best interviews?
Liam [Hendriks], because of his accent.
 
Teammate who you think hates interviews the most?
Probably Marcus [Semien].
 
Teammate you’d be a fan of, if they weren’t your teammate?
I’d probably say [Matt] Olson because of how good he is. I’m sure if [Mark] Canha wasn’t on my team I’d probably be pissed when he flipped his bat, but since he’s on our team, actually I love it. Ramon [Laureano], I’d love his defense and arm, and the emotion he shows… that guy’s a badass.
 
Song that you know all the words to?
“Neighbors” by J. Cole.
 
Are audiobooks considered reading?
No.
 
Tougher sport to play tonight, if you had to: football or hockey?
Ice hockey, because I couldn’t tell you the last time I’ve been ice skating. But football would be scarier. I’d probably rather play hockey, I’d feel more comfortable there. And football, I feel like I would die.
 
What matters most to you, launch angle, spin rate or exit velocity?
Exit velocity. If you’re hitting the ball hard, good things are going to happen. If you’re so concerned about launch angle, you start trying to get under the ball more and more. If you’re trying to hit the ball hard, you’re right where you need to be.
 
We’ll give you a free trip this weekend: Napa, Tahoe, or Monterey?
I’m going to Tahoe. Beautiful in summer or winter.
 
Theme park ride that you go visit first?
If I was at Six Flags, and the park opened, I would probably run to Goliath. That big one with the drop, big and fast roller coaster. When I was a little kid, I could ride those forever. Now I might get a headache. 
 
Favorite person or account that you follow on social media?
I don’t have Instagram. But I will say on Twitter, Brett Anderson makes me laugh, a lot. Dallas Braden makes me laugh a lot too. He’s funny.
 
The best actor in your lifetime so far is Tom Hanks, agree or disagree?
Disagree. Christian Bale, that’s my favorite actor.

[RELATED: Why BoMel is excited to see young A's catchers this season]
 
A-F, grade your use of emojis.
Probably like a C, right in the middle
 
Any car could be in your driveway tonight, what would it be?
An S 63 AMG Mercedes.  It’s a nice car.  It’s a dream car, maybe one day.  Even though I have a Tahoe that I’m pretty attached to.