How Sean Manaea is taking on leadership role with A's, in rotation

How Sean Manaea is taking on leadership role with A's, in rotation

MESA, Ariz. -- Sean Manaea has come a long way since the AL Wild Card Game in October.

A trip overseas proved to be an escape and a well-needed adventure to discover the loss to the Rays wasn't all his fault.

It was a perfect reset to Manaea who will be taking on a different role than he was before heading into the season.

Once in the group of youngsters, he finds himself sandwiched in between the fresh-faced and experienced arms of those vying for spots in the A's starting rotation in 2020.

"[Manaea] is at a different point in his career right now too," manager Bob Melvin told reporters prior to Manaea's Cactus League debut against the Brewers on Monday. "He's not just that young, talented left-hander, he's had to make some changes along the way because of the injury -- do things a bit differently but he's excited about a full year, as are we because, like I said, numbers were fantastic last year."

Manaea's spring debut wasn't everything to be desired, and he knew that. 

He left after 1 1/2 innings giving up six hits, six runs and two home runs.

"Results-wise, I mean, six runs is six runs -- that sucks, and I don't really know what happened," Manaea told reporters after his outing. "I think, just leaving stuff down the middle and ultimately that's what I was trying not to do. I just wanted to go out there and throw my slider and get a feel for it -- and I think I accomplished that today."

Manaea said it was a good starting point to work on for a spring outing and the hits he got after throwing it were just lessons to pay attention to.

He maintained the positive attitude BoMel touched on that makes him special on the team and in the clubhouse.

Manaea said the slider moved well, and he was really happy with the movement overall. Just not location wise. 

[RELATED: Fiers gets cheers upon Cactus League pitching debut]

"For the most part -- for some of the part, it was pretty decent," he smiled. 

Talking about a spring training outing can often feel pointless, but one thing is for certain -- the laidback vibes the weather and baseball in Arizona can bring will resonate through the regular season for Manaea. 

 

A's Mark Canha will never forget the time he autographed a potato

A's Mark Canha will never forget the time he autographed a potato

MESA, Ariz. -- Imagine approaching A's Mark Canha and asking him to sign ... your potato.

Well, a fan did that on Sunday prior to the A's Cactus League game against the D-backs: 

"You never forget when you sign a potato," Canha told NBC Sports California on Monday. 

Oh ... c'mon, I had to ask him about it.

"The guy was just like 'Hey Mark, will you sign my potato?' and I was like, 'Yeah, I don't have a problem with that.'"

Canha also said it might have been the weirdest thing he's ever signed. He can add that to the collection of autographed cell phones, babies -- well, a baby's bib.

One of the most interesting parts of this potato (wow, I can't believe I just wrote that) was the fact that there are multiple signatures on it and it's stood the test of time to some degree, so that's quite impressive. 

[RELATED: A's tab Puk as top prospect over Luzardo]

"I've signed some weird stuff," he added. "Some kids want you to sign their arm."

"That [potato] had to be one of the weirdest," Canha said.

A's Bob Melvin thrilled to have difficult Opening Day starter decision

A's Bob Melvin thrilled to have difficult Opening Day starter decision

MESA, Ariz. -- The A's have a problem: Figuring out who will get the ball on Opening Day.

Yes, it's early to think about, but it's a stellar problem to have. One manager Bob Melvin is not used to.

The obvious smile on his face during the cool morning at Hohokam Stadium showed he likes knowing he has plenty of strong options.

"Literally you can throw it in a hat and pick it out, and I don't anyone would have a problem with it," Melvin told reporters Monday. 

He understands it's not an easy decision, especially this time around.

"There are a lot of things that go into picking your Opening Day starter, so we'll probably wait a little while to give you that news."

As a veteran, Mike Fiers will have a promising case for the job against the Twins on March 26. He didn't get the start over Sean Manaea for the AL Wild Card Game last postseason, but that doesn't signify much. 

Young lefties and A's top prospects A.J. Puk and Jesús Luzardo also will be part of the equation. 

Luzardo, put up sensational numbers in 2019, albeit in a small sample size. He boasted a 1.50 ERA with a 0.667 WHIP and 16 strikeouts in 12 innings, facing just 46 batters.

Puk came out of the bullpen last season as well and will vie for a spot in the starting rotation.

[RELATED: Fiers gets cheers in first appearance since Astros article]

The A's will also get a full season of Frankie Montas, who is coming off of an 80-game PED suspension in 2019. He went 9-2 with a 2.63 ERA in 2019. 

Chris Bassitt also will be thrown in the mix. He showed his diversity last season, moving to the bullpen after Blake Treinen was out with a back injury.

He could be a sixth-man option or continue a reliever slot, but either way, Melvin will put Bassitt in a position to succeed.

Regardless of who gets the ball on March 26, the A's will not be short on options.

Melvin said his bullpens have been great.