A's spring training Day 32: Bigger crowds could mean no tarps at Coliseum

A's spring training Day 32: Bigger crowds could mean no tarps at Coliseum

MESA, Ariz. — Removing the tarps from the third deck of the Coliseum is an idea the A’s have at least explored, according to team president Dave Kaval.

Don’t expect them to be leaving anytime soon however. Any thoughts of taking the tarps off will be a direct result of increased fan interest and ticket sales, and thus a need for third-deck seating, Kaval said.

“As someone who at one point bought tickets in the third deck and went to games when I was at business school, it’s a very fun environment,” said Kaval, who attended Stanford. “And so we’re evaluating, based on the attendance and the interest in the club, whether or not we’re going to keep them on or remove them. Right now we’re keeping them as is. Kind of the demand dictates that, but that’s not to say that couldn’t change over time.”

The tarps first were introduced in 2006 for A’s games and have been in place ever since. They’ve been the subject of much criticism from the fan base over that time. The A’s removed them from the original third deck for the 2013 American League Division Series against Detroit, though seats on Mount Davis remained covered.

BALLPARK UPDATE: Kaval said the research and behind-the-scenes work continues as the A’s weigh where to build a new ballpark in Oakland. They still are considering four sites — the current Coliseum; Howard Terminal; and two near Lake Merritt — one close to Laney College and another in the Brooklyn Basin area.

Kaval has promised an announcement for a location in the 2017 calendar year, but he wasn’t giving any more specific timetable Friday.

“We’ve been spending a lot of time obviously on the transportation and transit plans for the different locations, as well as really just soliciting community input and seeing what people in the different neighborhoods, what they think about a ballpark in that area,” Kaval said.

PROSPECT WATCH: Franklin Barreto, Matt Olson and Chad Pinder were optioned to Triple-A after Friday’s 3-2 loss to Arizona. The A’s consider all three potential future pieces, with Barreto — a middle infielder ranked as Oakland’s top prospect — in particular turning heads with a dazzling performance this spring. He hit .481 (13-for-27) in 16 games.

Olson hit .167 with two homers and five RBI. He’ll continue to see time at first base and right field. Manager Bob Melvin said Pinder will be groomed as a super-utility guy who will be tried in the outfield as well as playing all over the infield. He hit .158 with two homers and five RBI.

CAMP BATTLE: : Melvin said he envisions the battle for two open rotation spots to possibly last all the way through the Bay Bridge Series. One of the candidates, Raul Alcantara, started against the Diamondbacks and gave up two runs in 3 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out one.

“He managed it, but I don’t know that that was his best stuff today,” Melvin said.

NOTEWORTHY: Most of the A’s top relievers threw Friday — Ryan Madson, Santiago Casilla, Sean Doolittle and John Axford among them. In his second appearance, Casilla threw a scoreless inning with a strikeout and also started a double play. Melvin liked seeing Doolittle throw his slider multiple times in his scoreless inning, and the manager liked the action on the pitch. Melvin also has been impressed with young catcher Sean Murphy, who was being the plate calling pitches for Doolittle.

“I was impressed that he wasn’t afraid to make him throw his other pitches,” Melvin said of Murphy.

QUOTABLE: A’s executive VP of baseball operations Billy Beane had a little fun with Kaval’s willingness to incorporate the ideas he’s getting from fans during his public office hours.

Beane: “I’m waiting for the fan that comes in and goes, ‘Sign Mike Trout’. And Dave goes, ‘Done!’”

ODDS AND ENDS: Ryon Healy homered for the second day in a row, giving him a team-leading four this spring. His 13 RBI are tied for second in the majors. … Madson struck out three in his inning of work. Axford allowed one run in 1 1/3 innings and has issued five walks in 5 1/3 innings total.

Ex-A's outfielder/DH Harold Baines elected to Hall of Fame


Ex-A's outfielder/DH Harold Baines elected to Hall of Fame

LAS VEGAS — Against all odds, Harold Baines is heading to Cooperstown.

Baines and Lee Smith became the two newest members of the Baseball Hall of Fame Sunday when they were elected by the Today's Game Era Committee.

Baines, 59, played 22 Major League seasons, including three with the A's from 1990-92. The outfielder/DH was named an All-Star in 1991, one of six career All-Star appearances.

Baines had been eligible for the Hall of Fame since 2007 but never came close to garnering the necessary 75 percent vote on the writers' ballots. He was dropped off the Hall of Fame ballot in 2011 after receiving just a 4.8 percent vote total.

However, Baines got 12 of 16 votes (75 percent) on the Today's Game Era ballot, just enough to qualify for Cooperstown. The Today's Game Era Committee is one of four "Eras Committees" which provide an alternate route to reach the Hall of Fame, besides the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

In his 22 seasons, Baines slashed .289/.356/.465 with 384 home runs and 1,628 RBI. In three seasons with the A's, he slashed .274/.360/.431 with 39 homers and 187 RBI.

Smith, 61, pitched for eight different teams in his 18-year career, finishing with 478 saves, third-most in MLB history, and a 3.03 ERA. The seven-time All-Star was a unanimous selection by the Today's Game Era Committee, receiving 16 of 16 votes. He currently works as the Giants' minor-league pitching coach.

Lou Piniella, Albert Belle, Joe Carter, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Davey Johnson, Charlie Manuel, and George Steinbrenner were also nominated for the Hall of Fame but came up short of the required votes.

Baines and Smith will officially be enshrined in Cooperstown on July 21, 2019.

Joe Theismann tells 2018 Heisman winner Kyler Murray to pick baseball

Joe Theismann tells 2018 Heisman winner Kyler Murray to pick baseball

Will Kyler Murray stick with baseball or try his hand at football?

That's the burning question everyone wants the answer to after the A's first-round pick won the 2018 Heisman trophy on Saturday night.

Former NFL MVP and Super Bowl champion Joe Theismann has some advice for Murray on the choice: Stick with baseball.

The A's gave Murray a $4.66 million signing bonus with the understanding that he would play his junior season at Oklahoma and then focus on his baseball career. But that was before Murray took college football by storm.

Now, ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that one NFL general manager told him Murray could be a first-round pick in April's NFL Draft.

The NFL Network's Ian Rapoport believes Murray could be a second or third-round pick.

Either way, Murray is now on the radar of NFL teams and a team may use a draft pick on him.

But Murray's agent, Scott Boras, told Rapoport that Murray will honor his committment to the A's.

"Kyler Murray is a baseball player, (and) is going to show up for spring training in February for the Oakland A's," Boras said.

Boras and Theismann's comments have to be music to the A's ears. They likely don't want Murray anywhere near an NFL field.