Athletics

A's outfielder Stephen Piscotty accepts prestigious 54th Hutch Award

A's outfielder Stephen Piscotty accepts prestigious 54th Hutch Award

“You never know when life is going to throw you a curveball, as it did a few months ago when Stephen was diagnosed with Melanoma. It was successfully removed and we’re thankful.”

Mike Piscotty accepted the 2019 Hutch Award on behalf of his son, A's outfielder Stephen Piscotty, at T-Mobile Park in Seattle, Wash. during the annual award luncheon.

Stephen was nominated in May for the prestigious honor "in part for the courage and commitment he displayed when his mother, Gretchen, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)," the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center said in a press release.

“On behalf of my son Stephen I wish to thank the Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center for this great honor," Mike said. "It’s truly an honor to be present here.”

Mike Piscotty, father of Hutch Award winner Stephen Piscotty accepts the award on his son’s behalf (photo via Fred Hutch/Robert Hood)

Stephen sent in a video to accept the award while he was on the road with the A's.

"I just wanted to say I'm very honored to be this year's Fred Hutchinson Award winner," Stephen said in the broadcast that was presented at the luncheon. "I want to thank everyone who made this possible especially those at the Fred Hutchinson Research Center -- thank you very much."

The video also showed pictures and footage of the Piscotty family including a touching tribute to his late mother, Gretchen.

"Going through some of the stuff off the field, and caring for my mom and ultimately with her passing was not an easy thing to handle, you know, going through a baseball season at the same time," the outfielder added.

"You know, the baseball field was a bit of a safe haven for me where I could kind of take my mind off those things. But it was a very challenging year-- and not just for me, but for my entire family. You know, we felt good about everything we did and supporting my mom and we had a tremendous amount of help and we were able to have lasting memories up until the day she passed."

"My dad started the ALS Cure Project and I've been doing my best to help support and promote this project and ultimately, the end goal is to find a cure and give folks hope," said Stephen.

“Stephen and I started ALS Cures last fall … to cure ALS so no one would have to suffer [my wife’s] fate," Mike added during his speech.

Mike also noted some of the research he discovered while starting the project. 

“We’ve learned there are no tests for ALS, there are no biomarkers. We’ve learned that without biomarkers we cannot measure disease progression. We’ve learned that without an understanding of the ALS disease mechanism it is impossible to come up with a cure. This is not an easy problem.”

“We need to do foundational research on disease mechanisms and biomarkers to guarantee success. The problem is there is no money in foundational research.”

This summer, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research is celebrating what would have been the 100th birthday of its namesake, baseball legend Fred "Hutch" Hutchinson. Hutch was a winning pitcher and managed three MLB teams. He was diagnosed with cancer in 1963 and passed away shortly thereafter in 1964. His brother, Dr. Bill Hutchinson, created the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center as a living memorial for Fred with the mission to cure cancer. 

This year alone, the luncheon raised close to $600K to fund research. That's in addition to the over $6.5 million raised over the last 19 years. 

[RELATED: Piscotty has emotional reunion in St. Louis]

Jim Abbott was the 2019 keynote speaker at the award ceremony. Despite being born without a right hand, Abbott had a successful big league career, which included throwing a no-hitter for the New York Yankees. 

Hutch Award keynote speaker Jim Abbott addresses the crowd of 700+ luncheon attendees (photo via Fred Hutch/Robert Hood)

“If there is one thing that I took away from my playing days, it is that so many great things can happen in this world. Let’s keep trying to make those things happen,” Abbott said in front of 700+ people in attendance.

Now you can see why Piscotty, and his family, were so deserved of such an inspiring award. 

A's remain in contract talks with Blake Treinen, GM David Forst says

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USATSI

A's remain in contract talks with Blake Treinen, GM David Forst says

MLB's annual Winter Meetings head to San Diego next week, and there already are some big-name free agents receiving big paychecks. 

It appears the moves are going quicker than they started last offseason. As for the A's, one of their priorities is their pitching -- particularly out of the bullpen.

"We will continue to be in conversations with relief pitchers," Forst said Thursday in a conference call with reporters. One of those relievers includes former Athletic Blake Treinen.

The 31-year-old was non-tendered on Monday making him a free agent, but Forst said they're keeping the option open to re-sign him.

"We'll continue that conversation, but there's obviously going to be a lot of interest in him."

Treinen leaves behind a rough season that was the complete opposite of his 2018 All-Star campaign.

In 2019, he finished with a 4.91 ERA with just 59 strikeouts in 58.2 innings. The season prior? A 0.78 ERA with a 0.83 WHIP. He also was in AL Cy Young and MVP talks.

The good news for Treinen is the free-agent market is very forgiving with relief pitchers. One bad season could be right ahead of something great. 

Along with Treinen, Forst also explained that bringing back Jake Diekman was a priority for the team, which the A's did Tuesday on a two-year contract.

[RELATED: Profar trade gives A's infield clarity]

But the A's are far from being done, and Forst mentioned it had been a while since the A's went with a bullpen of fewer than eight players. 

"I think it's an area we will continue to address if possible," Forst added.

A's Marcus Semien, Liam Hendriks deserving of MLB All-Team honors

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AP

A's Marcus Semien, Liam Hendriks deserving of MLB All-Team honors

Major League Baseball has initiated the first-ever All-MLB Team. This was put forth for fans to vote on their favorite players from the 2019 season's entirety.

This is a bit like the All-Star selections only that, in this case, it's not in the middle of the season, and with these, there are both first and second teams. Also, this team will not be broken up by leagues and players were previously nominated -- pretty cool, right?

I voted for my 2019 All-MLB Team and here are my results:

New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso put on a show at the plate this season and during the Home Run Derby. Sure, we dig the long ball, but we also appreciate a guy who shows his emotions when he does something great on the field, like setting a rookie home-run record with 53 dingers this season.

The middle-infielders as of late have become these gems filled with power, which is a characteristic we didn't see in the earlier eras of the game. 

For second base, Houston Astros star José Altuve proved once again why he is a constant force to be reckoned with. The six-time All-Star finished his 2019 campaign slashing .298/.353/.550 with 31 home runs and 74 RBI in 124 games. 

Marcus Semien was the vote at the shortstop position. While there were plenty that deserved the honors (Jorge Polanco and Xander Bogaerts should not go unmentioned), Semien was such a fascinating player this season.

Sure, there's a slight bias over here, but imagine having someone only get better as the season went on. Semien started in all 162 games this season and showed no signs of tiring, finishing with 33 homers and doubling last season's total. He was also third in AL MVP voting behind Mike Trout and Alex Bregman. 

Semien didn't receive All-Star honors this season, which is a shame. He deserves something after the show he put on.

Speaking of Bregman ... I voted for him at third base, the position that was the toughest to select across the roster.

He, Matt Chapman and Nolan Arenado each put up a phenomenal season and reminded you just why it's called the hot corner.

For Bregman, he was sensational across the board in each hitting category, finishing 2019 with a .296 average, 41 homers and a 1.015 OPS. Arenado matched Bregman's long-ball numbers with 41, but ya know -- Coors. 

And that energy is contagious.

Outfielders were easy to vote for.

Trout, Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich. I really hope you guys won't argue with me on those.

The starting pitchers, for the most part, hosted arms from the final two teams still playing October baseball. Justin Verlander earned his second Cy Young Award, posting a 2.58 ERA with 300 strikeouts in 223 innings and an MLB-leading 0.80 WHIP.

Well-deserved. 

Verlander's former teammate Gerrit Cole was behind him in Cy Young voting, leading the AL with a 2.50 ERA and MLB with 326 strikeouts and 13.8 strikeouts per nine innings.

I also voted for Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, and once again, I hope there are no arguments there. If there is, I have plenty of photos of them drenched in champagne celebrating a World Series championship to back me up.

Former A and current Cincinnati Red Sonny Gray didn't reach his 2015 heights, but he dropped his ERA drastically from his 2018 campaign, boasting a 2.87 ERA with the Redlegs. His season deserved to be recognized.

From the bullpen, A's Liam Hendriks got a vote because he not only put up the numbers but switched to closer role responsibilities and did it smoothly and masterfully.

He finished his 2019 All-Star season with a 1.80 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 85 innings with a 0.97 WHIP.

[RELATED: Hendriks shift in energy factors in success with A's]

How'd I do? Let me know.

The winners for first and second-team honors will be announced at this year's Winter Meetings in San Diego.