Athletics

Why A's stamina will be vital for grueling stretch of 2020 MLB season

Why A's stamina will be vital for grueling stretch of 2020 MLB season

This shortened A’s season is not a marathon. It’s a sprint.

Using baseball’s standard cliché in reverse already has jumped the shark, yet aptly describes a shortened 60-game season the coronavirus pandemic and an ill-timed labor dispute have brought upon us.

It does, however, need some clarification.

It’s not a 100-meter dash where you charge out of the blocks, run as fast possible and cross the finish in seconds with a bit of sweat on the brow.

This is a grueling 400, maybe even an 800-meter run where you go as fast as possible for longer than you should and feel like throwing up at the end.

The A’s will know that feeling well after playing 30 games in 31 days. Yeah, you read that right.

They’ll play 13 straight starting Friday night in Seattle, take a few deep breaths and chug some Gatorade on Aug. 13, and then go 17 more without respite.

Oh, and MLB demanded the A’s cut the current 30-man roster to 28 around this time next week and bring it to 26 two weeks after that.

And the A’s were worried about taxing their bullpen just over the first six games, when starters weren’t stretched out enough to go deep.

It’s all part of the job for Yusmeiro Petit, the workhorse and role model for an A’s bullpen that will shoulder a significant load even after the rotation works deeper into games.

“That’s part of the schedule, and you have to be ready for that,” Petit said. “You have to know when the off day is coming, and you have to prepare your body and your arm for a difficult stretch of games. You have to prepare well and work on recovering well after you pitch, because you will be needed again.”

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

The A’s have several position players capable of playing every day, even over tough stretches. Marcus Semien played all 162 last season. Matt Chapman played 156. Matt Olson played 162 the year before, when Semien played 159 and Stephen Piscotty and Khris Davis played 151.

There are more off days written into the schedule over 162, though long stretches do occur. A’s manager Bob Melvin will want to keep his frontline players in the lineup as much as possible, though he has enough talented depth to feel comfortable giving guys a breather when it’s required over a 60-game slate compacted into just 66 days.

[RELATED: Why A's stacked lineup hasn't come through in clutch early in season]

“We have a lot of good players and finding a lineup on a particular day sometimes will be difficult,” Melvin said. We know we can give guys days off and fill in with productive guys. One of the strengths of our team is that we feel comfortable using the entire roster.”

A's call up prospect James Kaprielian, place pitcher Jordan Weems on IL

A's call up prospect James Kaprielian, place pitcher Jordan Weems on IL

The wait is over. The A's called up highly-touted pitching prospect James Kaprielian on Tuesday and placed pitcher Jordan Weems on the 10-day IL with a strained right latissimus dorsi in a corresponding move.

Kaprielian, 26, was the No. 16 pick in the 2015 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees. The A's acquired the right-hander, along with Dustin Fowler and Jorge Mateo, from the Yankees for Sonny Gray on July 31, 2017. 

The UCLA product has dealt with injuries for much of his minor league career. He missed the entire 2017 and 2018 seasons after sustaining an elbow injury in 2016 and undergoing Tommy John surgery the following the year. But in 2019, he was back on the bump

[RELATED: A's eight-run inning vs. Mariners not as rare as expected]

Between three levels last season -- Advanced Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A -- Kaprielian went 4-3 with a 3.18 ERA. Over 68 innings, he struck out 75 batters and had a 1.10 WHIP. He appeared in 19 games, making 16 starts.

Weems, 27, has a 3.60 ERA over five innings this season.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Dave Stewart calls Astros 'cheaters,' thanks them for Ramon Laureano

Dave Stewart calls Astros 'cheaters,' thanks them for Ramon Laureano

Dave Stewart had one of the most intimidating stares in MLB history. When the A's pitcher turned NBC Sports California analyst gave you that look, it was game over. 

Stewart once again brought the heat Monday night on A's Postgame Live after Oakland's 11-1 blowout win over the Seattle Mariners. Everyone loves a good dig at the Houston Astros, and Stewart didn't hold back. 

"He's solid, he is a solid player," Stewart said of A's outfielder Ramon Laureano. "How the A's got this guy is unbelievable. And what it took to get is unbelievable in Houston. Houston, thanks once again, you cheaters."

The Houston Astros selected Laureano in the 16th round of the 2014 MLB Draft. Just three years later, Houston traded the outfielder to Oakland in November 2017 for pitcher Brandon Bailey. 

Laureano, 26, made his MLB debut the next season and has been an integral player for the A's ever since. He hit .288 with five homers and seven stolen bases in just 48 games in 2017, following it up with another .288 season last year. Laureano also added 24 long balls and swiped 13 bags. The center fielder is hitting .324 with two home runs and nine RBI through 10 games this season. 

[RELATED: A's eight-run inning vs. Mariners not as rare as expected]

Bailey, 25, made his big league debut this season for Houston out of the bullpen.

Laureano has one of the best arms in baseball, can knock the ball over the fence and steal a base for extra credit. This was one of the A's best trades in recent memory, and Stewart will remind the Astros as much as he can.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]