Athletics

A's say they deferred Coliseum rent payment for lack of use during coronavirus

A's say they deferred Coliseum rent payment for lack of use during coronavirus

The A's deferred a $1.2 million rent payment due to the Oakland Coliseum last month because they couldn't use the stadium, the team said in a statement Tuesday.

The payment was due April 1 as part of the team's annual agreement to use the Coliseum. In a statement provided to NBC Sports California, the A's said the Coliseum Authority "has been unable to make the Coliseum available for use by the A's" and that the team deferred payment as a result.

"The A’s sent notice to the JPA in March stating the Club is in support of these public health efforts and would defer annual rent payment, given the building was not available for use by the organization, per provisions in the contract," the statement read. "The A's look forward to when the City and County feel it is safe to lift current directives, and the A's are granted access to the facility to play baseball."

Henry Gardener, the Coliseum Authority's interim executive director, said earlier Tuesday that A's executives claimed the team had "no ability to pay."

“They said because they haven’t used it, they were not able to generate revenue and they have no ability to pay,” Gardner told Bay Area News Group's David DeBolt on Tuesday.

Oakland banned events of 1,000-plus people on March 11, and MLB first delayed the start of the 2020 regular season and canceled spring training a day later due to the coronavirus pandemic. The A's said in a statement to NBC Sports California that the City of Oakland Alameda County have kept the Coliseum available as a potential surge location for COVID-19 patients. That, combined with state and local bans on mass gatherings, made the Coliseum unavailable for use, the team said.

In a letter obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser, the A's told the Coliseum Authority would invoke the force majeure provision of the 10-year lease the team signed in 2014 and defer the rental payment.

The city and county still have $55 million in unpaid debt from renovations when the Raiders returned to Oakland in 1995, according to DeBolt. DeBolt reported the stadium authority is "tied up in a legal battle" with the Warriors over $48 million in unpaid debt on Oracle Arena. The Warriors were in the midst of their first season in San Francisco when the NBA season was suspended, while the Raiders are set to play their first season in Las Vegas.

The A's had planned to build a new ballpark at Oakland's Howard Terminal by 2023, and the team officially agreed to purchase Alameda County's shares of the Coliseum in December. In March, the A's requested fast-track environmental certification of the site from California Gov. Gavin Newsom under state Assembly Bill 734. A group of shipping, trucking and steel companies filed a lawsuit on March 17 opposing the team's submission, and state officials' focus on the coronavirus pandemic likely will push back the team's timeline.

NBC Sports California's Jon Williams contributed to this report.

A's add 17-year-old Robert Puason, five others to complete 60-man pool

A's add 17-year-old Robert Puason, five others to complete 60-man pool

The A’s announced the addition of six players to the 60-man player pool on Wednesday ahead of MLB Summer Camp.

Infielder Eric Campbell has been added to the group who will report to Oakland at the Coliseum.

Campbell hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2016 with the New York Mets, when he only hit .173 with nine RBI.

Right-handed pitchers Wandisson Charles and Miguel Romero, outfielders Luis Barrera and Brayan Buelvas and infielder Robert Puason will report to the A’s alternate site. 

Puason, 17, showed a lot of promise practicing in the A’s facility and has speed and fluidity in his defensive capabilities. 

The pool is now set at 60 players.

[RELATED: Projecting A's roster following initial player pool release]

Baseball started feeling back to normal when the A’s traded infielder Jorge Mateo on Tuesday to the San Diego Padres for a player to be named later.

The A’s have started to arrive for workouts, which begin on July 4 at the Coliseum and the alternate site.

Jesús Luzardo: Everything you need to know on A's top pitcher prospect

Jesús Luzardo: Everything you need to know on A's top pitcher prospect

Who is A’s pitcher Jesús Luzardo?

A possible top-15 fantasy pitcher in 2020? Sure.

An AL Rookie of the Year candidate? Definitely.

But the 22-year-old lefty is so much more than that. 

Before the A’s

The Washington Nationals drafted the talented pitcher in the third round in 2016 out of Stoneman Douglas High School. Luzardo underwent Tommy John surgery around the time of the draft, but the Nats are known to take a chance on a guy despite the surgery.

Not a bad decision at all. 

The A's acquired Luzardo, Sheldon Neuse and Blake Treinen in 2017 from the Nationals in a trade for Ryan Madson and fan-favorite Sean Doolittle. Since then, he has been considered one of the best prospects in baseball.

With the A’s

During his stint last season with Triple-A Las Vegas, he boasted a 3.19 ERA with 1.19 WHIP and 34 strikeouts in 31 innings while pitching in a hitter’s haven in the PCL.

In 12 innings of relief after he was promoted to the A’s in 2019, Luzardo tallied a 1.50 ERA with 16 strikeouts in 12 innings. His spring training numbers would make you blush also, but I don’t want you filling my comments with the nonsense that “those numbers don’t count.”

Eh … I’ll do it anyway. 

In 8 1/3 innings of Cactus League play this year, he struck out 13 batters. See? That was worth bringing up. 

Oh, and he has only allowed six hits since his MLB debut after facing 58 batters in the regular season and playoffs.

His background

Luzardo is the first Peruvian-born player to play in Major League Baseball. He's also Venezuelan. 


Not a contact guy

On the mound, Luzardo is usually wearing his prescription Oakley glasses while he pitches and decides to forego contact lenses.

“My glasses are kind of like a routine for me,” he told NBC Sports California's Brodie Brazil. “When I pitch or throw without them, it’s kind of just weird. It’s more of a comfort thing.”

Hey, don’t mess with what works.

[RELATED: A's position battles heading into Summer Camp]

Now for the important stuff ... 

Luzardo’s (very proud) mom Monica, says that believe it or not, he’s very shy, but he has a big heart and is a hard worker.

I could see that. 

“His favorite Disney movie when he was young was ‘Mulan,’ ” she said. He also loves to fish and also is an excellent baker. His specialty? Tres Leches Cake, which is a Venezuelan dessert.