Athletics

A's possible future waterfront park aims to maintain Oakland's culture

A's possible future waterfront park aims to maintain Oakland's culture

OAKLAND -- Before we piled into the van in front of the A's offices at Jack London Square, team president Dave Kaval led the small group of local reporters into his own office.

When you pass the two corner chairs decorated with emoji throw pillows, you can see where the franchise's future home could be: A picturesque waterfront ballpark at Howard Terminal.

As we made the very short drive to a massive parking lot filled with trucks, shipping containers and cranes dirtied with time, you get a feel of the Oakland that Kaval doesn't want to erase. Over the bumps, Kaval joked with us "this would, of course, be paved," for an easier drive. But the culture didn't hide from what he, and many others, hope will be built.

Kaval pointed to the maps that the A's provided of the 55-acre lot between the square and Schnitzer Steel, as his ever-present enthusiasm peaked through his reflective sunglasses. A place that, despite the transportation worries, the A's know will be more accessible than they realize.

For starters, the ferry would add more stops on its route. It glided by us as we stepped on the water's edge. There also will be three BART stops near the location. 

It's also 2019, so technology will have people able to escape the on-foot travel and put it toward scooters. Kaval also mentioned that, in the future, there could be specific lanes designated for such means of mobility.

I asked Kaval if there were any surprises or bumps in the road that he came across during the entire process that still has a ways to go. Getting to the ballpark was something that stood out.

"There's been a lot on the transportation," Kaval told reporters. "One thing I really appreciate is the City of Oakland has been very thoughtful about the impact of this facility, on the transportation grid, on the downtown plan, on the residents that are here, and I think they're holding us and everyone involved in this project to a high standard.

"But I think that would be good because I think in the end, it'll create a better project where you can get in and out better, where the types of infrastructure are actually developed in the appropriate way."

Kaval said that sometimes when these types of projects are put together, they think it's complete, only to come to the realization something was missed.

"We want to have it easy to get in and out of the ballpark because that's good for our fans," he added.

[RELATED: Photos of plans for A's Howard Terminal ballpark, Coliseum site project]

And he's thinking about the players, too, of course. So much so that there's a plan in place for a committee to add input to the project. Possibly former and current players. Dallas Braden and Dave Stewart's names were casually mentioned.

"Everything from the areas where they are, like the locker room, but also how people are experiencing baseball and how close are fans, all these types of aspects that may have not been considered in the past," Kaval said. "I think relying on our players who are at every game, leaning on their expertise, is very important."

So, we have a better visual as to where this area is, and how the A's view it. We even stood at the possible place for the ballpark entrance, and it has the hope of being a beautiful view.

But will A's fans get the real thing? Not the "what could be's" and illustrations.

So far, it's looking pretty good, but the next steps are crucial ones. 

The California Environmental Quality Act is one of the next items on the agenda. Come March/April, the city council has to vote and see if the impact report is one that would work, and that's after stakeholders offer input. It's possible a litigation period will be involved, but if that's the case, following that, the A's could break ground.

"We are hoping the end of 2020," Kaval said. 

Still, he's made it aware that anything is possible throughout the rest of the process.

Kaval tackled everything you could think of during the tour, from fans in sun exposure in the bleachers to how the ball itself could play on the field, and he even said he's open to changes once the stadium is done.

[RELATED: A's haven't been shut out in nearly 100 consecutive games]

But one thing Kaval will not change is the essence that is Oakland. So the cranes might stay. They would receive a bit of a facelift, of course, but get used to them.

"Anyone watching on TV would know, 'Hey, we're in Oakland,' and that's a really cool thing."

Sean Manaea considering wearing mask in starts during 2020 MLB season

Sean Manaea considering wearing mask in starts during 2020 MLB season

With baseball activities picking back up over the weekend, we've seen most players wearing a mask during drills at ballparks around the country.

A's starter Sean Manaea is considering taking the precautionary measure a step further.

While speaking with media in Oakland on Sunday, the left-handed pitcher admitted he's considering wearing a mask during his starts this season.

While Major League Baseball isn't forcing players to wear a mask while playing, Manaea's action would go a long way to protecting himself and his A's teammates.

Masks have become a hot-button subject around the country, but baseball players know that they are walking a fine line between playing the 2020 MLB season and having it canceled because too many players contracted the coronavirus.

Even with the season cut down from 162 to 60 games, the A's have high expectations this year, and Manaea's presence on the field will go a long way to determining if they can achieve their goal of winning the World Series or if they will fall short again.

[RELATED: Diekmans appreciate Melvin's message to A's]

Manaea, 28, is expected to be one of the leaders of the A's rotation, along with veteran Mike Fiers. Last season, Manaea pitched in only five games after recovering from left shoulder surgery. But in those five starts, he was dominant, to the tune of a 1.21 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 29 2/3 innings.

The A's need that version of Manaea this season, and if it means wearing a mask during his start, it's a move he's willing to consider.

Jake Diekman's wife appreciates Bob Melvin's message to A's players

Jake Diekman's wife appreciates Bob Melvin's message to A's players

A's reliever Jake Diekman is considered a high-risk player for the 2020 MLB season, but as of now, he has no plans to opt out.

So that means his teammates need to be extra cautious regarding the coronavirus. If one of them contracts the virus, they could pass it to Diekman. That outcome could end up being very bad.

Since the age of 11, Diekman has had ulcerative colitis, a disease that affects the colon. In 2016, Diekman underwent surgery to remove his colon. A year later, he had a second procedure where doctors used his small intestines to create a "J-Pouch," a replacement colon.

No one understands the risk to Diekman more than A's manager Bob Melvin.

During a Zoom conference call with A's reporters Saturday, Melvin mentioned that he plans to address his team Sunday about taking the coronavirus precautions as seriously as possible.

“How important it is to try to stay in as much of a bubble as we possibly can,” Melvin said, according to The San Francisco Chronicle's Matt Kawahara. “It is literally like it is in real life, understanding that you’re doing this for the person next to you, too.

"You’re staying healthy for not only yourself and your family but your teammates and their families.”

Melvin will be sure to mention Diekman.

“His name will come up as well, that it’s very important to take this seriously,” Melvin said, according to Kawahara.

Melvin's comments made their way to Amanda Diekman, Jake's wife.

[RELATED: Diekman dominated TikTok during stoppage]

Melvin is widely loved by his players, and this is another example of why. He cares about all the guys.

The A's acquired Diekman last July from the Kansas City Royals, and re-signed him to a two-year contract this offseason. The 34-year-old is expected to be a key piece of Melvin's bullpen this season.