Athletics

A's spring training Day 9: Alcantara trying to add new wrinkle

A's spring training Day 9: Alcantara trying to add new wrinkle

MESA, Ariz. — Right-hander Raul Alcantara, who could factor in as a starting or long relief option for the A’s, is experimenting with a split-finger fastball this spring.

Alcantara, who made five late-season starts last season in his first big league call-up, threw the pitch for the first time to hitters Tuesday, so he’s still in the infant stages with it. The A’s would like Alcantara to develop a solid third pitch to go with his fastball and changeup, though he does dabble with a curve and cutter too.

“In general, we’re looking for a ball that’s gonna dive, something where the bottom’s gonna fall out,” Oakland bullpen coach Scott Emerson said.

Alcantara, 24, faces crowded competition for the No. 5 starter spot with Jesse Hahn, Andrew Triggs and Paul Blackburn among those also going for it. Claiming the last spot in a seven-man bullpen is a possibility, though the A’s could surely utilize a second left-hander to go along with Sean Doolittle.

Making Alcantara’s case more interesting is that he’s out of minor league options, meaning he would need to make it through waivers unclaimed before the A’s could send him down.

Alcantara throws a hard changeup that clocked 86-87 miles per hour last season. Ideally, Emerson said his splitter would settle in the low 80’s.

Speaking through interpreter Juan Dorado, Alcantara said he’s gradually getting a feel for the new pitch.

“Obviously it’s a little more difficult on the hitters to know that there’s a different pitch,” he said. “They’re used to me throwing a fastball, a cutter and a change, and now implementing a split would just help me out to show them something different.”

CAMP BATTLE: Lefty Ross Detwiler, who re-signed with Oakland in the winter on a minor league deal, offers depth as a potential swing man who can start or relieve. Detwiler went 2-4 with a 6.14 ERA in nine games (seven starts) last season for the A’s. Those numbers look ugly in a short sample size, but Melvin values the veteran beyond what the stats show.

“I think he liked being here and we wanted him back.”

QUOTABLE: “I must be a little behind this year because the guys are hitting me a little harder than they normally do. Healy took me over the batter’s eye three times in a row.” — Melvin, who throws a couple rounds of batting practice every day.

NOTEWORTHY: The A’s will hold a pair of two-inning intrasquad games Thursday at the Lew Wolff Training Complex, with both set to start at 11:40 a.m.

Kyler Murray recreates iconic Bo Jackson photo, and A's properly react

kylerimprint.jpg
Kyler Murray / Twitter

Kyler Murray recreates iconic Bo Jackson photo, and A's properly react

Imagine being compared to Bo Jackson.

Yes -- the Bo Jackson.

The legend who dominated in both Major League Baseball and the National Football League. He was selected by the Royals in the 1986 MLB Draft and in the same year was the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. No big deal.

Bo played for the Royals, White Sox and Angels across eight seasons, earning All-Star honors in 1989, and he even was in MVP talks. In the NFL, he spent four seasons on the Raiders and even led the league three different times in longest rushing attempts.

How can you mimic that? Well, you can't, but you can pose like Bo. Just ask Kyler Murray.

He was the ninth overall pick by the A’s in this year’s MLB Draft and now is the starting quarterback at Oklahoma after backing up Baker Mayfield last year. So, the correlation is rather similar, but check out the young dual athlete pose like the legendary Jackson to mirror an iconic photo:

It's like looking at a reflection, right?

The A's had some fun with it, too, bringing recently crowned AL Manager of the Year Bob Melvin into the conversation about their young prospect.

Because, after all, BoMel knows ...

Did Nathan Eovaldi's playoff heroics put him out of A's price range?

Did Nathan Eovaldi's playoff heroics put him out of A's price range?

No free agent made himself more money this postseason than right-hander Nathan Eovaldi.

The 28-year-old had a respectable regular season, going 6-7 with a 3.81 ERA and 1.13 WHIP between the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox. His career numbers also are just decent: 44-53, 4.16 ERA, 1.35 WHIP.

But in 22 1/3 innings this postseason, Eovaldi allowed just four earned runs for an ERA of 1.61, helping the Red Sox win a World Series title.

Eovaldi's playoff heroics turned him into one of the hottest commodities of the offseason. He earned just $2 million in each of the last two seasons, but he's now projected to land a multiyear contract at around $15 million per season.

The A's obviously need starting pitching help -- executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane already has said as much. But spending big bucks on a sexy free agent target isn't exactly their MO.

Eovaldi would have been a shrewd signing for around $8 million per year, but $15 million is a pretty steep price to pay off one great month. Before this season, Eovaldi hadn't recorded an ERA under 4 since 2013. His high WHIP and low swing-and-miss rate also are concerns.

For the type of money Eovaldi is expected to get, the A's would be better off pursuing top-end starters such as Patrick Corbin and Dallas Keuchel, both of whom are expected to earn around $20 million per year. And really, what's an extra $5 million at that point?

Otherwise, Oakland probably should use that $15 million to sign multiple pitchers, including their own free agents.

Editor's note: This week across the NBC Sports Regional Networks, we'll be taking an in-depth look at some of the top free agents in baseball. Thursday is dedicated to free agent pitcher Nathan Eovaldi.

Will Phillies be in the mix for Nate Eovaldi?
How Eovaldi set himself up for big payday
How does Eovaldi fit the White Sox?
Will Giants take risk with Eovaldi?