MESA, Ariz. -- A's reliever John Axford was already the last customer in the restaurant, and had been for a while, by the time Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway took the Oscars stage to present Best Picture on Sunday evening.
"I was so engaged in my phone and watching the Oscars that when I finally looked around and noticed nobody else was in the restaurant, it was closed, and I was like, 'Oh, maybe I should not be here anymore,'" Axford said. "But they said, 'No, no, no, just watch the end of it, it's fine.'"
MESA, Ariz. -- A's ace Sonny Gray will not participate in the World Baseball Classic, after he was denied insurance coverage because of his extended time on the disabled list last year.
According to A's general manager David Forst, Gray was identified as a "chronic-condition player," having spent more than 60 days on the DL last year because of two separate injuries. The provision excuses pitchers who total more than 10 innings after coming off the DL, but Gray only pitched one inning following his return.
MESA, Ariz. -- Jesse Hahn's arm looked better than his glove, which deflected a comebacker that led to two runs in the A's right-hander's Cactus League debut against the defending World Series champion Cubs on Saturday.
Hahn, competing for the last rotation spot, was tagged for three runs in Oakland's 4-3 loss, scattering four hits in 1 2/3 innings in Oakland's spring opener. He struck out two and walked one.
MESA, Ariz. -- A's right-hander Liam Hendriks has elected out of the World Baseball Classic, forgoing a trip to Tokyo with Team Australia in favor of remaining in Arizona.
Hendriks is healthy, but the prospect of making a pair of 15-hour flights within one week and having to immediately return to the mound for the A's in tiptop form proved disconcerting for the 28-year-old reliever.
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
A's prospect Chapman flashes power vs. Cubs
By Carrie Muskat
MESA, Ariz. -- The defending World Series champion Cubs displayed their trophy on the field before the game, and the sellout crowd of 14,929 at Sloan Park gave them a standing ovation as they took the field for the Cactus League opener against the Athletics.
Matt Joyce and No. 4 A's prospect Matt Chapman nearly spoiled the day as both hit home runs for the A's but Minor Leaguer Charcer Burks smacked a tie-breaking leadoff shot in the seventh to lift the Cubs to a 4-3 victory on Saturday.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Detwiler begins spring audition with A's
Lefty plans to use opt-out clause if he doesn't make roster
MESA, Ariz. -- Left-hander Ross Detwiler intends to sneak his way onto the A's roster with a strong spring showing. Otherwise, he's likely out the door.
The veteran pitcher, newly accepting of the swingman role, has a March 26 opt-out clause in his contract, and he plans to take advantage of it -- barring a dreadful Cactus League performance -- and become a free agent in search for opportunity elsewhere should he not make the team.
MESA, Ariz. -- Another season, another math problem for the Athletics: How to be last in the division in spending and remain competitive over 162 games?
That's been the perennial question for Oakland and will remain the case until it builds the new stadium the team has been seeking for more than a decade. The good news is that Billy Beane was an early adapter at this game, helping his team reach the postseason eight times in a 15-year stretch, and the formula of pitching, platoons and precocious talent still works.
Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Breaking down the Athletics' Top 30 Prospects
Pitching-heavy system features many players knocking on door
By Mike Rosenbaum
The Athletics finished last in the American League West for the second straight year in 2016, compiling a 69-93 record that was the third worst in the AL and a one-game improvement from the previous year. But the club made the most of its situation, using the non-competitive year to audition a host of rookies in the big leagues, all the while furthering the development of its top prospects.
Left-hander Sean Manaea turned in a strong rookie campaign after his debut in April, posting a 3.86 ERA with a 124-to-34 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a career-high 144 2/3 innings. Equally impressive was third baseman Ryon Healy, who, after beginning the year in Double-A, reached the big leagues in mid-July and proceeded to hit .305/.337/.524 with 13 homers and 20 doubles in 72 games. Jharel Cotton and Joey Wendle were plenty good in their own rights and were part of large group of A's September callups that included Raul Alcantara, Renato Nunez and Matt Olson.
MESA, Ariz. -- Seven years later, Mark Ellis has resumed the role of mentor to Adam Rosales, one of his many students gathering in the infield each morning for early work this spring.
Except the 33-year-old Rosales is essentially now the same age the since-retired Ellis was in 2010; and with years comes experience and veteran status -- and Ellis, in A's camp as a guest instructor, is urging him to do some of his own tutoring.
MESA, Ariz. -- Sean Murphy, the walk-on Wright State University catcher who blossomed into the A's third-round Draft pick, has a standout arm that's drawing attention in big league camp.
"The kid can throw," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It's special. We heard that coming in, but to actually see him throw to bases, it's one of those where you tell the infielder, 'If the ball looks low, give it a chance, because it's carrying,' and he threw some balls that looked like they might not make it but had that carry on them. It's an electric arm for sure."
MESA, Ariz. -- A's manager Bob Melvin wasn't quite prepared for what he saw from his hitters, who teed off some of the club's best arms during a pair of brief intrasquad games Thursday morning.
Right-handers Sonny Gray and Kendall Graveman squared off in one game, each dueling with a large handful of the team's better bats. Among the highlights was Mark Canha's two-out RBI double against Gray.
MESA, Ariz. -- A's camp has been open less than two weeks, and Kendall Graveman is already playing with pinpoint command, his manager labeling him "quite the perfectionist" after watching the right-hander throw a bullpen session recently.
"It's a testament to how hard he's working," manager Bob Melvin said. "He missed the glove one time -- and got really frustrated about missing the glove one time in his second bullpen."
MESA, Ariz. -- No longer will pitchers lob four balls to home plate. Major League Baseball is eliminating the old-fashioned intentional walk, instead electing for a dugout signal as part of ongoing efforts to improve the pace of play.
A's manager Bob Melvin, at least when considering alternative options being mulled to speed up games, is on board with the decision.
PHOENIX -- Jerry Dipoto knows that the Astros are favored to win the American League West, and if baseball analysts aren't talking about Jose Altuve's budding powerhouse, they're focused on the Rangers. Why not? They've won the AL West two years in a row.
MESA, Ariz. -- The A's are still awaiting the arrival of their newest reliever and hold out hope Santiago Casilla will be in camp "any day," manager Bob Melvin said Tuesday.
The veteran right-hander is held up in the Dominican Republic by visa paperwork that was delayed because he was a late sign, only committing to a second tour with the A's -- via a two-year, $11 million deal -- in late January.
MESA, Ariz. -- Rehabbing from Tommy John surgery is a long, arduous process that can be equal parts lonely and boring. Except A's right-hander Chris Bassitt has hardly been lonely, and only occasionally bored.
Bassitt has struck up a close friendship with rehab partner Felix Doubront, and the two A's pitchers have charted identical rehab schedules after undergoing elbow reconstruction surgery within a month of each other last year. Bassitt feels spoiled by Doubront's constant company, "because if I didn't have him," he said, "it would be really, really hard."
MESA, Ariz. -- A year ago, A's left-hander Sean Doolittle temporarily changed his Twitter handle to "BestShapeOfMyLifeGuy," after proclaiming on the first day of Spring Training that he was, in fact, in the best shape of his life.
Hyperbole or not, it's a common line players throw around excessively upon reporting to camp, and Doolittle at least laughed at himself while using it. This year, though?
MESA, Ariz. -- The Coliseum food scene is getting a makeover under the watch of new A's president Dave Kaval, who is making good on his promise to improve the fan experience and embrace the club's history while waiting for a new stadium in Oakland to take shape.
"People were not satisfied with the food experience," said Kaval, who opens his doors to fans during weekly office hours.
MESA, Ariz. -- A's second baseman Jed Lowrie is able to run again, and sleep better.
The nine-year veteran had two surgeries within a month last year. First, a multifaceted procedure to repair ligament damage and remove a bunion and cyst in his left foot. Then, an operation to resolve a deviated septum and relieve him of nasal issues that had disrupted his sleep for nearly a decade.
MESA, Ariz. -- New A's center fielder Rajai Davis couldn't put back on the uniform soon enough, reaching for the green and gold the moment he found his locker upon joining camp Thursday morning.
"He had his cap and his jersey on, and his slacks and his dress shoes," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "I said, 'Did you come in here like that?' I know he's excited about being here, and those are the type of guys we need here."