Bob Melvin

Relive A's most memorable Opening Day moments from past 20 seasons

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AP

Relive A's most memorable Opening Day moments from past 20 seasons

History has not been too kind to the A’s when it comes to Opening Day. Since 2000, the A’s have gone 6-14 on a day considered a holiday by many.

Not great.

A's manager Bob Melvin has been pretty open about being disappointed in not bringing home a win when the A's lost 10 straight Opening Day games from 2005-14.

But there were some interesting Opening Days during that time. 

With the upcoming regular season being pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic, let’s take a look at some of the A’s most memorable Opening Days over the past 20 years.

Ichiro

Ichiro Suzuki made his MLB debut against the A's on April 2, 2001.

He went 2-for-5 in the M's win. Later on, he would go on to win AL MVP and Rookie of the Year as the Mariners won 119 games.

He had an illustrious 19-year career with the Mariners and retired ... against the A's in Japan last March.

Yes, this isn't necessarily about the A's, but it's Ichiro. 

Moneyball year

In 2002, the A’s had Mark Mulder starting on the hill against Alex Rodriguez and the Texas Rangers.

Oakland's first baseman Scott Hatteberg would ultimately become an icon in A’s history before he was played by actor Chris Pratt in the movie “Moneyball.” This was the season the movie and book are based on.

Chad Bradford closed out an 8-3 win for the A's at the Coliseum.

2008 Opening Day in Japan and Harden

March 25, 2008, at that time, was the earliest start in MLB history. And it would begin with a two-game series in Japan with the A’s hosting the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox.

The A’s were dealt an Opening Day loss thanks to a strong Daisuke Matsuzaka outing, and a two-run double from Manny Ramirez in the top of the 10th.

But game two was special thanks to a man named Rich Harden.

This was his season. He began it all going up against Jon Lester -- and picked up a win.

In six innings, he gave up just three hits, struck out nine and walked three. 

Harden easily is one the A’s, and baseball's biggest “what if’s.”

2012 Japan series

The 2012 Opening Day was a weird one. No, this wasn’t the first time the team would open up on the road … or in this case, across the seas, but this was unique.

The A’s played the Seattle Mariners in Japan at the Tokyo Dome. They lost, 3-1 in 11 innings, but then both teams flew back to Arizona and continued spring training.

Ichiro had an Ichiro-like game with four hits.

This, of course, was part of an effort to bring international audiences to the game.

It was successful on that front, but once again, the A’s would leave with an “L" in that game.

But they had Yoenis Cespedes on their plane, so that’s a win.

[RELATED: What we'll miss most about Opening Day]

2015 Sonny Gray dazzles

Sonny Gray had a shining 2015 debut against the Rangers. Across eight frames, he gave up just one hit and struck out three.

The right-hander's dominance helped break the 10-game Opening Day losing streak.

Gray also earned his first All-Star selection that season. At the end of it all, he would boast a 2.73 ERA with a 1.082 WHIP.

How A's Bob Melvin could see MLB returning after coronavirus pause

How A's Bob Melvin could see MLB returning after coronavirus pause

After 35 plus years of working in professional baseball, A’s manager Bob Melvin has witnessed a lot.  

But nothing like what COVID-19 has presented.

“You think you see everything in the game, and this isn’t even about the game anymore,” Melvin told NBC Sports California from his home in Arizona. “It’s just a difficult time in our world, and everyone needs to be pretty disciplined in slowing the curve and get past this.”

Melvin, like his players and the rest of MLB, was amazed at how quickly professional sports - and regular life for that matter, came to a screeching halt last week.

“Towards the end of spring, you kind of saw this coming the last couple of days,” Melvin said. “Everything changed so quickly, it became a real uncomfortable feeling.“

An uncomfortable feeling that continues and intensifies with each day. Melvin keeps in touch with many players via text, but not many of the conversations revolve around baseball.

“And I think that’s the way it should be,” Melvin said. “You feel like you should try and be control of what the guys are doing right now, but you can’t.”

What’s most unfortunate from a sporting perspective, is the highly-anticipated season Oakland was due to begin in less than a week. There was a tremendous optimism witnessed around the A’s clubhouse at Spring Training. The manager is confident that positive energy will carry over to whenever the season begins.

“I do, and based on my conversations with the guys, them as well,” Melvin said. “I don’t think that changes, we had a good feeling in camp this year. Actually it was better as it went along.”

Some form of second Spring Training eventually will be necessary, especially depending on how long the coronavirus pandemic lasts. A condensed season also is highly possible, but getting close to the 100-game mark would be a nice milestone.

“Baseball is a long enough season where even half a season is quite a few games,” Melvin said. “Half a season is a complete NBA season, so we have that going for us as a sport.”

Melvin knows firsthand the important role sports will play when people are ready to resume a more normal lifestyle. He was part of the Arizona Diamondbacks organization in 2001 that went on to win the World Series.

“After 9/11 it was a badge of honor. And I’ve told our guys this via text, from time to time,” Melvin said. “We knew not only did we accomplish something as a team, but we were relief. We were entertainment for what was a difficult time in our history.”

[RELATED: Why these A's spring performances could translate to season]

The skipper knows his current players in Oakland will be up to that task.

“More than anything, the guys want to get back so they can entertain.”

Melvin also carries confidence in the coming days and weeks.

“I know the people in our country respond really well to adversity, and I expect that to be the case again.”

How A's Frankie Montas learned valuable lesson during long suspension

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USATSI

How A's Frankie Montas learned valuable lesson during long suspension

A's starter Frankie Montas had it all going his way last summer: A 9-2 record, including five consecutive wins, and a virtual ticket to the All-Star Game as of June 20.

The next day, he was suspended 80 games by MLB after testing positive for a performance enhancing drug.

In the months that followed, Montas kept himself in physical playing shape, but struggled with the mental anguish.

“I ain’t going to lie, I think I went three-and-a-half weeks without watching a baseball game,” Montas admitted. “I wasn’t there, but, supporting my boys from the house. I missed it.”

“That was a dark place for him,” Manager Bob Melvin said.  “To have to go through that and watch his team succeed, a guy that was so important to us over the course of the first half.”

It worked out that the A’s didn’t derail from the Montas suspension. Instead, they found steam from separate places starting in mid-June, and still managed to hit the 97-win mark by October. Montas says he was proud of how his teammates responded to the adversity, but the individual lesson wasn’t lost.

“I did learn a lot last year,” Montas said about being instantly removed from his job. “Being able to miss it, that woke me up. Like, you’re playing this for something. This is not just for you, but for your family and the fans. It just makes you appreciate the game a little more, and love a little more, too.”

And now the focus turns to 2020. Montas and his high-octane fastball will be part of an elite rotation like Oakland hasn’t seen in decades.

“I’ve always thrown hard, had a good arm,” Montas said. “The thing for me was to try and control it. Through my progression in the minor leagues -- I was wild, was not a guy to go out and throw strikes. I’d walk five or six people. Trying to limit walks was a big challenge for me, and stepping up my game.”

[RELATED: Montas' rise to potential A's ace not all about splitter]

Montas says there’s no personal need to prove himself and that his performance from last season is exactly where he’d like to continue.

“He’s as driven as he’s ever been, and he’s smiling every day,” Melvin said. “He’s happy to be here and the guys embrace him, they understand he made a mistake. There’s always second chances, and he’s handling himself beautifully right now.”