Athletics

What makes Matt Chapman is so confident in self, A's for 2020 season

What makes Matt Chapman is so confident in self, A's for 2020 season

OAKLAND -- There was a sense of confidence among A's players and manager Bob Melvin as they trickled into media day.

BoMel said it was the most excited he has been about the team since he has been with the A's, and it's no different for two-time Platinum Glove Award winner Matt Chapman, but he had to embrace the tough ending to 2019 first.

"We were really sad, and then for a while, it was pretty quiet," Chapman told NBC Sports California at the end of January. "But then, we all kind of turned the page a little bit and started appreciating everything accomplished -- and we were getting excited for next year."

Chappy made it clear the one-and-done post-season experience the team faced over the past two years is not going to become a trend. He is adamant there will not be a repeat of that in 2020.

"We're going to take it to the next level," he said. 

And it'll begin with the young arms, he went on.

"I think it starts with all of our young pitching that is getting more mature," Chapman added.

Top left-handed pitching prospects A.J. Puk and Jesús Luzardo likely will be a part of that starting rotation this upcoming season.

Luzardo, although limited to a small sample size, posted a 1.50 ERA and 0.667 WHIP over six games and 46 batters faced in 2019. Puk, who also made his highly-anticipated MLB debut last season, came out of the bullpen and in 11 1/3 innings posted a 3.18 ERA with 13 strikeouts.

Oakland will also get a full season of Frankie Montas, who missed a chunk of time in 2019 after violating MLB's Joint Drug Agreement for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

Veteran Mike Fiers and Sean Manaea are set to join the starting rotation as well.

"It's like the first time we've had a set rotation, and it's guys we really trust, guys that have been tested," Chapman said. "We've had rotations, but we've always had guys go down, or this or that, it's like -- we have a five-man rotation with [Chris] Bassitt in there as well as a sixth, or a bullpen guy, whatever we need."

"They all have insane stuff," Chapman added. 

Chapman included the defensive and offensive game as two additional things for the team to have confidence in.

"Our pitching is only getting better, and I think our hitters are only going to get more polished, we're just going to be more mature -- we have more experience," he said. "The more at-bats you can give those guys, the better. The bullpen is only going to get better."

[RELATED: Fiers feels 'ahead of schedule,' despite distractions

"I think we're just a really, really good young, well-rounded team."

It was also something new and exciting for Chappy to be able to look around the clubhouse and recognize most of the players this time around.

"I just have the confidence in our whole team -- we know what to expect," Chapman said. "Instead of starting from scratch, we can kind of just build on what we have, the momentum."

A's minor league coach Webster Garrison tests positive for coronavirus

athleticsfanautographspringtrainingap.jpg
AP

A's minor league coach Webster Garrison tests positive for coronavirus

The coronavirus has touched the A's organization.

A's minor league coach Webster Garrison has contracted COVID-19 and is on a ventilator, his fiancé Nikki Trudeaux said in a social media post Friday.

On Saturday, Trudeaux posted an update on Garrison's condition, stating that he hasn't suffered any setbacks.

The A's issued a statement to MLB.com's Martin Gallegos regarding Garrison:

“We want to extend our sincerest thoughts and prayers to our colleague for a speedy recovery. We are committed to providing him and his family with support and care. Every person on our team plays a critical role to our success and we look forward to his return to the field when he is healthy.

“During this pandemic, the health and safety of our players, employees, and community is our top priority. We are in this together and will get through this together. We are following MLB suggested protocols, CDC guidelines, and local public health recommendations for care. Finally, out of respect for this individual's privacy, at this time, we will not comment further regarding his situation.”

Last season, Garrison served as the manager for the A's High-A affiliate in Stockton, and is expected to coach one of the A's rookie-level teams in Arizona this season, The San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser reported.

The 54-year-old Garrison was selected in the second round of the 1983 MLB Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays.

Garrison, a first baseman and second baseman, signed with the A's organization on two separate occasions (1991 and 1996), and appeared in five big league games in 1996.

Former Astro Evan Gattis takes shot at Mike Fiers, lazily backtracks

Former Astro Evan Gattis takes shot at Mike Fiers, lazily backtracks

A's starter Mike Fiers caused a storm this offseason when he blew the whistle on the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal.

Fiers, who played for the Astros during their 2017 World Series-winning season in which they used technology to steal signs, has been almost universally praised as a hero for bringing the scandal to light.

But one of his former teammates apparently isn't happy Fiers pulled back the curtain on the Astros' trash-can banging ways.

After Gattis' posting caused a stir, the former Astro backtracked, claiming he has no ill-will toward Fiers.

It was a weird attempt at a flex from Gattis, who, even with the help of trash cans and technology, hit just .097 with a .129 slugging percentage on offspeed pitches in 2017.

Oof.

[RELATED: Fiers details mentality behind two career no-hitters]

Gattis isn't the only former player to call out Fiers for his whistleblowing, as both Pedro Martinez and David Ortiz criticized the A's right-hander for the way in which he went about it.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow both were fired after MLB suspended for a season for their role in the rampant cheating.

The season currently is delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. But when the season does begin, the first meeting between Fiers and his old mates will be one for the books.