Athletics

A's vs. Rangers lineups: Sean Murphy catching Sean Manaea for first time

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AP

A's vs. Rangers lineups: Sean Murphy catching Sean Manaea for first time

Sean Manaea has pitched two games this season, both with the same battery mate. That will change Sunday for the A's left-hander. 

Rookie catcher Sean Murphy will be in the squat working with Manaea in Texas. 

The 24-year-old has been a star so far in the early part of his MLB career. Through eight games with the A's, Murphy is batting .409 with four homers and three doubles. 

Manaea has been just as impressive, too. The 27-year-old is 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA in two starts this year. 

Here are the full lineups for the A's-Rangers game, which will be broadcast on NBC Sports California and the MyTeams app. Coverage begins at 11:30 a.m. PT, with first pitch at 12:05 p.m. PT.

Oakland A's (89-60)
SS Marcus Semien
3B Matt Chapman
1B Matt Olson
CF Mark Canha 
LF Seth Brown
DH Khris Davis
2B Jurickson Profar
C Sean Murphy
RF Robbie Grossman

LHP Sean Manaea (1-0, 0.75 ERA)

Texas Rangers (74-76)
RF Shin-Soo Choo
SS Elvis Andrus
LF Willie Calhoun
2B Nick Solak
DH Rougned Odor
CF Scott Heinemen
1B Ronald Guzman
3B Isaiah Kiner-Falefa
C Jose Trevino

RHP Jonathan Hernandez (1-0, 1.93 ERA)

A's GM David Forst says bullpen improvement main priority for 2020

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USATSI

A's GM David Forst says bullpen improvement main priority for 2020

MLB's hot stove season has been lukewarm, to say the least, especially when it comes to the A's. But they need arm help, especially in the bullpen.

Last year's reliever squad sang a different tune from what we used to see. That group led all of MLB with 30 blown saves. That's something A's general manager David Forst wants to make sure doesn't happen again.

“We need to get better. We need to try and catch the Astros and get out of that one-game playoff,” Forst told MLB.com's Martin Gallegos. “We have a number of things to do, but addressing the bullpen is definitely at the top of the list.”

The AL Wild Card has been a thorn in the side of the A's over the last three seasons -- they've lost each of those last trios of appearances including a recent 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

The free agency pool for relievers not only possesses a lot of talent, but a lot of those available arms appear to be what the team goes after historically.

Daniel Hudson could be a nice fit with his experience and the way he's made an uptick in his career -- despite his age (33) that doesn't deter the A's away. But that also shows whatever has been happening toward the postseason hasn't been working for them. 

“There’s a lot of talent in our bullpen,” Forst added. “I couldn’t say how many guys we need, but we have to have the depth, both starting, and bullpen, to last over a 162-game season.”

Liam Hendriks took over at the closer role last season and was sensational. He boasted a 1.80 ERA with 124 strikeouts in 85 innings. The 2019 All-Star took the place of Blake Treinen who wasn't the same from his previous almost immortal season. And we can't go without mentioning Yusmeiro Petit who had a great campaign of his own with a 2.71ERA with a 0.807 WHIP. 

Forst added he's excited about the future the Green and Gold will bring to the table -- and fans should be as well.

[RELATED: Where A's MVP finalist Semien wants to improve in 2020]

Last season, the A's top prospects Jesús Luzardo and A.J. Puk made short appearances out of the bullpen, but look to add to the starting rotation that will have a healthy Sean Manaea and a full season from Frankie Montas. 

“We feel like we’re going to be able to contend again in 2020. We still have some work to do, but we like our team coming back.”

Where A's MVP finalist Marcus Semien wants to improve next season

Where A's MVP finalist Marcus Semien wants to improve next season

OAKLAND -- Marcus Semien enjoyed a breakout season in 2019, in just about every area. The Oakland shortstop became the first A's player to register a top-three finish in the AL MVP race since Miguel Tejada in 2002.

"It means a lot," Semien told NBC Sports California. "It was a very competitive field this year. I think that the game is changing. There are so many players who can do everything on the field -- fielding, base running, scoring runs, producing runs. I'm trying to work on every part of my game to get better, and in the second half, I really made some improvements."  

Semien, 29, set career-highs in runs, hits, home runs, doubles, RBI, walks, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and just about any other stat you can think of. The Bay Area native might have been even better defensively, where he was a Gold Glove finalist for the second straight year.

But despite all of his accomplishments, Semien believes he still has room to improve in 2020.

"I think baserunning is a big one, just getting in scoring position more for our big hitters," Semien said. "We've got great hitters in the middle of the lineup, so walking and getting hits, you want to just make sure you run the bases right. Defensively, turn more double plays, help our pitchers. We're going to have some young pitchers, so we want to make them feel as comfortable as possible."

Last offseason, Semien's most significant development involved plate discipline. He reduced his strikeout total from 131 to 102 and drew a career-high 87 walks, 26 more than the year before.

Semien also matched an A's single-season record by scoring 123 runs, fourth-most in the majors.

"Scoring runs was a big one for me," Semien said. "Solidifying myself in the leadoff spot. I've been moving around the lineup for a couple of years now and just to solidify the leadoff spot and score runs and get in a routine was great."

[RELATED: A's star Semien tells mental health journey in HEADSTRONG]

While he appreciates the individual recognition, Semien's main focus is team success. After experiencing back-to-back Wild Card Game losses, he is optimistic that the A's can make a deeper run next season.

"I think we're going to be good," he said. "We want to start off better than we did last year. I think that our rotation will be more solidified. These last two years, we've added at the (trade) deadline to get our rotation where we want it to be, where this coming season, we'll hopefully start the rotation that we like. Position players are ready. I think that we'll have everybody healthy and it'll be fun."