Athletics

Q&A: A's COO Chris Giles on Coliseum upgrades, new ballpark, fan enthusiasm

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Q&A: A's COO Chris Giles on Coliseum upgrades, new ballpark, fan enthusiasm

While the A's hope to soon have a new stadium in the East Bay, they haven't forgotten about their current home.

For the third straight year, the Oakland Coliseum is getting significant upgrades. Among the new improvements for next season are theater boxes, lounge seats, and terrace tables, with more to come.

A's Chief Operating Officer Chris Giles graciously took a few minutes to chat with us about the stadium enhancements, the new ballpark, and more.

NBC Sports California: First of all, congratulations on the upgrades. What went into them and how excited are you to improve the Coliseum once again this offseason?

Chris Giles: We got a lot of good feedback on the upgrades we've done over the last two years, starting with Shibe Park Tavern and Championship Plaza, and then The Treehouse that we did last year. We really started to look holistically at the Coliseum and what our fans were asking for. We had completely sold out of all the premium experiences at the Coliseum and were really looking to build out some variety in that area. We'll be building lounge seats, theater boxes, and a brand new table terrace section as well as two new group spaces.

With all the talk about the new ballpark, how important is it to still upgrade the Coliseum and keep improving the fan experience there?

We look at the fan experience that we have at the Coliseum as really one of our top priorities. We're not abandoning the Coliseum by any means. Not only are we not abandoning it, we're continuing to invest. It's not only good for our fans, but it's good for us as a learning opportunity.

Looking at all the young talent on the A's roster and the success you had last year on the field, not to mention a new ballpark hopefully in the works, how much fun is it to be part of the organization right now?

Yeah, it's been really cool to just watch the accolades come in. The team last year was incredible and we expect it to be another exciting year. We're obviously continuing to work hard on the new ballpark efforts and we really think about this as an opportunity to really revitalize our fan base. We sold four times as many A's Access memberships this offseason as we did season tickets the year before. We're really pleased with how the fan base is responding.

That actually leads us right into our next question: You clearly are not afraid to try things that haven't been done before in baseball, or sports in general. All Access is a great example of that. How much do you look to stay ahead of the curve in that sense?

We're never afraid to try new things. We're also not reluctant to stick with things that work. We're just taking a careful look at our business. It starts by listening to our fans and understanding what they want and then being responsive to those requests.

You sent a tweet mentioning the possibility of some more upgrades coming. Any hints you can give us?

Yeah, we've got another one coming. It's probably going to be a few months until we're prepared to say anything more about it.

Fair enough. How about an update on the new ballpark?

We continue to make great progress with both sides and we're putting together a plan. We put out there that we're going to open a ballpark by 2023 and we still believe we can achieve that timing.

Homer Bailey impresses new teammates, bests Mariners in A's debut

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Homer Bailey impresses new teammates, bests Mariners in A's debut

OAKLAND -- Homer Bailey hadn't taken the mound for 13 days when he was asked to make his A's debut Wednesday afternoon at the Coliseum. No problem.

The veteran right-hander shook off some early rust before turning in a strong outing, leading Oakland to a 10-2 win over the Seattle Mariners.

"I was kind of a little rusty early and then I was able to kind of find that tempo where I wanted to be," Bailey explained Wednesday. "The way that this team fights for nine innings is outstanding, so it definitely gives you energy, and you know if you can keep it close, they're going to score runs and play great defense for nine."

Bailey allowed two runs on four hits in the second inning, but after that, he completely shut the Mariners down. The 33-year-old ended up going six innings, allowing just the two runs on seven hits, with six strikeouts and no walks.

"I thought he did really well," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "For a guy who hadn't pitched in basically two weeks, to go out there -- I wouldn't say he was rusty -- they got some hits off him early in the game, but then (he) shut it down when (he) needed to. Sometimes there are nerves with a new team and some expectations. ... I thought it was a really good start for him."

The A's acquired Bailey from the Kansas City Royals on Sunday, hoping he would bolster their starting rotation, which has been decimated by injuries and Frankie Montas' PED suspension. So far, so good.

"They're so welcoming," Bailey said of his new teammates. "Just from top to bottom, it's been a good experience so far."

Last season was a rough one for Bailey, who finished with a 1-14 record and a 6.09 ERA in Cincinnati. This year didn't start much better, as his first 12 starts with the Royals resulted in a 6.05 ERA.

But it appears that something has clicked since then. In his last seven starts, Bailey is 4-0 with a 2.85 ERA.

"It's a combination of things," Bailey said of the turnaround. "It's a team effort, it's good defense, it's a catcher being invested in what you're doing, it's communication between yourself and a pitching coach. It's a lot of things."

Bailey threw 54 of his 87 pitches for strikes, using a variety of pitches along the way. His variety impressed his new manager. 

"He's got a really good split," Melvin said. "I didn't realize how good it was. And then as the game went along, he started using his slider and curveball a little bit more. He does have a true four-pitch mix."

[RELATED: Chapman's ankle 'didn't feel right,' forces him to exit Wednesday's game]

For the season, Bailey is now 8-6 with a 4.69 ERA. If he can perform anywhere near as well as he did on Wednesday, the A's should be in good shape. It certainly helps when the offense provides 10 runs on six homers.

"That's obviously a comfort, the fact that they can score so many runs," Bailey said. "But I feel like what makes winning teams and what probably helps these guys is not just their offensive production, but they play both sides of the baseball. ... To see the way that they play both sides of the ball and the energy that they bring for the entire game is really spectacular."

Bucks' Robin Lopez wonders if A's free haircut voucher was a message

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Bucks' Robin Lopez wonders if A's free haircut voucher was a message

Robin Lopez loves his Seattle Mariners. When talking about the team, he often refers to them as an entire unit, saying "we."

The Milwaukee Bucks' center attended the A's game to watch his beloved Mariners play at RingCentral Coliseum on Wednesday. He won a voucher for 50 percent off of a hair cut, and he was trying not to take it too personally:

Lopez went to high school in Fresno, so he appeared to be happy to make the trip to see his favorite team. Unfortunately, he witnessed a rocking by the A's, who defeated Seattle 10-2 on Wednesday. But he got to hang out with Stomper, so it wasn't a complete loss.

[RELATED: Bailey gets 'energy boost' by joining A's]

The rough road trip for the Mariners hopefully will not lead to a new hair cut for Lopez -- that Sideshow Bob look has always suited him.