Melvin thrilled with A's infield defensive makeover

Oakland adds Lawrie, Semien, Davis and versatile Zobrist to mix

Melvin thrilled with A's infield defensive makeover

MESA, Ariz. -- Evaluating and maximizing defensive efficiency has increasingly been a focus for every front office. It was yet again a homework project for the A's this offseason, and they came away feeling confident in their potential for plus marks.

"We really shored up what was a deficiency for us last year," said manager Bob Melvin. "That's what we're seeing right now. [Brett] Lawrie is as active over at third base as anyone, Marcus [Semien] is making plays every day, [Eric] Sogard does his thing, Ike Davis is a good defender at first. It's a very good infield defense."

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Crisp not optimistic about being ready for Opening Day

A's left fielder continues to battle sore right elbow

Crisp not optimistic about being ready for Opening Day

MESA, Ariz. -- A's left fielder Coco Crisp can't guarantee his availability for Opening Day.

The veteran, who has battled lingering right elbow soreness nearly all spring, went 0-for-3 with a walk in an intrasquad game on the Minor League side Tuesday and did not sound overly encouraged.

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Lyle Spencer

Vogt embraces opportunity to start for new-look A's

After Oakland's busy offseason, backstop gets chance to lead youth movement

Vogt embraces opportunity to start for new-look A's

MESA, Ariz. -- From a distance Stephen Vogt watched Billy Beane's wild winter adventure -- nine trades, 27 players involved -- with a vested interest, keeping tabs on incoming and outgoing A's teammates.

When the latest Oakland renovation was complete, Vogt was the projected No. 1 catcher with just 49 Major League starts behind the plate on his resume, 40 of those in 2013 with the A's.

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Lyle Spencer is a national reporter and columnist for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @LyleMSpencer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lawrie's big blasts back Pomeranz's strong audition

A's move to 13-1 at Hohokam Stadium; Lefty tosses six scoreless frames

Lawrie's big blasts back Pomeranz's strong audition

MESA, Ariz. -- A's third baseman Brett Lawrie launched a pair of homers and collected four RBIs in Monday's 11-2 victory over the Rockies at Hohokam Stadium, as Oakland's offense continued to roll. Oakland is now 13-1 at its new spring home.

Lawrie has four home runs in his last eight games.

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Zobrist's work ethic doesn't go unnoticed

Veteran among rare breed of players who can man almost any position

Zobrist's work ethic doesn't go unnoticed

The A's not only added depth at seven positions when acquiring Ben Zobrist, the ultimate prize for a club that oozes versatility, but a No. 3 hitter to replace Josh Donaldson, leaving them abuzz over the switch-hitting Zobrist's potential impact on both sides of the ball.

"You know you're not going to lose anything, and you'll maybe even gain something, when you plug him in at each position," said infield coach Mike Gallego. "And he can hit? It's almost unfair."

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pomeranz sails through start vs. former teammates

Lefty K's six in six scoreless frames, works on improving changeup

Pomeranz sails through start vs. former teammates

MESA, Ariz. -- Drew Pomeranz, already viewed as the frontrunner for the fifth spot in the A's rotation, showed why Monday, mowing down his former Rockies team with ease in an 11-2 victory.

The lefty compiled a spring-high six scoreless innings, allowed only two hits and walked one with six strikeouts, bouncing back from a forgettable outing five days prior that was hindered by hip tightness.

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

Graveman's hot spring providing unexpected return from big deal

Acquired as part of Donaldson deal, righty forces way into rotation

Graveman's hot spring providing unexpected return from big deal

MESA -- This may be one of those Billy Beane deals in which at first you go: "Oh, no!" And then later, calmed down and corrected you go: "Oh, I see."

How could the vice president/general manager of the Oakland Athletics possibly trade a player of the caliber of Josh Donaldson? One very good answer to that question was on the mound at Hohokam Stadium Sunday, pitching for the A's and building a big league future.

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Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bassitt falls out of rotation race, optioned to Triple-A Nashville

Bassitt falls out of rotation race, optioned to Triple-A Nashville

MESA, Ariz. -- Right-hander Chris Bassitt, whose bid for a starting rotation spot was spoiled by a handful of spotty outings this spring, was optioned with outfielder Alex Hassan to Triple-A Nashville on Sunday.

"It was going to be somebody, and as far as depth goes, we always want one or two guys ready to go, and that's the message we gave Chris," said manager Bob Melvin. "We did go over some things we thought he needed to work on. He was a little disappointed in his performance, but we certainly know what he has to offer. My guess is he will be a factor at some point for us this year."

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Reddick experiences no issues in Minor League game

Outfielder goes hitless in four plate appearances in return from right oblique strain

Reddick experiences no issues in Minor League game

MESA, Ariz. -- A's outfielder Josh Reddick, back in game action Saturday for the first time since suffering a right oblique strain, went hitless in four plate appearances on the Minor League side, but experienced no issues.

"No hits, but that wasn't the important thing," said Reddick. "I went out there and felt like I got all the bases covered -- swing and miss, check swings, hit the ball hard a couple times, walked, stole a base."

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Graveman dominates in scoreless start against Brewers

Righty tosses 6 1/3 shutout innings, allowing three hits

Graveman dominates in scoreless start against Brewers

MESA, Ariz. -- A's right-hander Kendall Graveman continued to dominate Cactus League opposition Sunday, stringing together 6 1/3 scoreless innings against the Brewers in a 7-0 victory for Oakland at Hohokam Stadium.

Graveman, in line to start the A's fourth game of the regular season, faced just two over the minimum in his time on the mound. He allowed only three hits, the first of which didn't come until the fifth, when Gerardo Parra notched a two-out single. Logan Schafer was responsible for the second, a bunt single, but was promptly picked off first base by A's catcher Josh Phegley.

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kazmir's outstanding start backed by offensive surge

Lefty holds White Sox hitless through four; Burns tallies four base knocks

Kazmir's outstanding start backed by offensive surge

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Billy Burns' four hits topped a 15-hit attack in a 10-4 Oakland victory over the White Sox at Camelback Ranch. Saturday's start against the A's for Jose Quintana looked much like some of his Major League-high 39 no-decisions since 2012, as the left-hander pitched brilliantly over six innings against Scott Kazmir, only to leave trailing by two runs.

But the White Sox rallied for three in the sixth before Quintana was officially removed, scoring two on Alexei Ramirez's single and then taking the lead on Geovany Soto's two-out double. Quintana fanned five over six innings without issuing a walk. Only one of his two runs allowed were earned.

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Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. Chris Gabel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

'Winning is important' for Melvin, even in spring

Kazmir lowers ERA to 0.75; Crisp expected to return to lineup Tuesday

'Winning is important' for Melvin, even in spring

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The A's entered Saturday with a Major League-best 17-9 record this spring, which, of course, will mean nothing in a week.

Well, maybe not nothing.

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Chris Gabel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Utility man Ladendorf contends for Opening Day spot

With Reddick possibly headed to DL, A's may have room on roster for 27-year-old

Utility man Ladendorf contends for Opening Day spot

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- "He's really opened some eyes."

For a player yet to establish himself in the Major Leagues, those are five of the best words to hear as Spring Training winds down. For A's super-utility man Tyler Ladendorf, he's heard them more than once this spring from manager Bob Melvin.

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Chris Gabel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Clippard to fill in for Doolittle as A's closer

Clippard to fill in for Doolittle as A's closer

MESA, Ariz. -- The goggle-wearing, funky-throwing Tyler Clippard will assume the role of interim A's closer in place of the injured Sean Doolittle at season's start.

A's manager Bob Melvin made the announcement, expected for weeks, on Friday morning.

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Canha establishing knack for clutch, late-inning hits

Walk-off homer against Rangers latest of Rule 5 Draft pick's big moments

Canha establishing knack for clutch, late-inning hits

MESA, Ariz. -- Mark Canha has firmly established his knack for the big, late-inning hit. Just two days after clinching the go-ahead run with a two-run homer against the Brewers, the A's slugger provided a walk-off win over the Rangers, courtesy of a three-run shot.

"Big shocker there, right?" said manager Bob Melvin, grinning. "It was just whether he was going to hit it to right or to left."

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Jane Lee is the Oakland Athletics beat reporter for MLB.com. She has been covering the club since January 2010.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Despite progress, Reddick not expected for Opening Day

Outfielder scheduled to play in Minor League game Sunday

Despite progress, Reddick not expected for Opening Day

MESA, Ariz. -- A's outfielder Josh Reddick is not expected to be ready for Opening Day, though making steady progress in his rehab from a right oblique strain.

Reddick is tentatively scheduled to be back in a game Sunday, though on the Minor League side, and the belief is he'll need more time to accumulate enough at-bats ahead of his return.

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Canha's walk-off three-run homer rallies A's past Rangers

Left fielder/first baseman drills his fourth homer of the spring

Canha's walk-off three-run homer rallies A's past Rangers

MESA, Ariz. -- Mark Canha hit a three-run, walk-off homer against Rangers reliever Phil Klein in the ninth inning of Friday's game at Hohokam Stadium, sending Oakland to a 7-6 victory.

Max Muncy singled and Stephen Vogt walked ahead of Canha's one-out homer, his fourth long ball of the spring.

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bean brings his message of inclusion to A's

Often confused with Oakland GM Beane, the duo played together at Triple-A

Bean brings his message of inclusion to A's

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Often mistaken for one another, Billy Beane and Billy Bean found themselves in the same clubhouse Thursday, just as they did 27 years ago when playing in the outfield together for Triple-A Toledo.

"We also had a guy named Pete Rice playing in the outfield, so we had a 'Rice and Beans' outfield," said a smiling Bean.

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sogard's tiebreaking triple carries A's past Giants

Chavez works 3 2/3 innings while Butler delivers two-run double

Sogard's tiebreaking triple carries A's past Giants

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Eric Sogard's two-run triple snapped a sixth-inning tie and led the A's to a 6-4 Cactus League victory over the Giants on Thursday night.

San Francisco, the reigning World Series champions, fell to a Major League-worst 6-19 this spring. The Giants have dropped nine of their last 11 games.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Chavez shows ability to work out of jams

A's righty struggles to put away Giants but is happy with where he's at

Chavez shows ability to work out of jams

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Back on the bump against the Giants on Thursday night after vacating camp for a day to welcome his third daughter, Dannie Rae, into the world, right-hander Jesse Chavez was thrown right into traffic, weaving his way in and out of several jams.

"That's what we're looking for right now, too," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "We talk about how guys respond when guys are on base. He did reasonably well with that."

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Butler brings his quest for a World Series title to Bay Area

Butler brings his quest for a World Series title to Bay Area

Last season ended oh so close for Billy Butler, as his Royals team came up 90 feet short of tying the Giants in Game 7 of the World Series.

Now, Butler's ready for a new season in a new place, as he begins his first season in Oakland.

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Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Bernie Pleskoff

Pleskoff: Slugger Canha offers A's power bat

Pleskoff: Slugger Canha offers A's power bat

Selecting a player in the December Rule 5 Draft at the end of the Winter Meetings is really a low risk/high reward proposition. The price is $50,000 to obtain a player left unprotected by another team. There is a catch, however. The selected player must remain on his new team's Major League roster the entire season or be offered back to his original team for half the purchase price, $25,000, if he clears waivers.

The Miami Marlins did not protect first baseman Mark Canha this past winter. As a result, the Colorado Rockies selected Canha with the second overall pick in the Rule 5 Draft. With his power potential and the perceived lack of first base depth in the organization, Colorado seemed like a perfect place for Canha to play. His bat would find Coors Field a welcome playground. However, the Rockies traded Canha to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for pitcher Austin House and cash. If Canha makes the big leagues in 2015, it will likely be with Oakland and not Miami or Colorado.

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Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gray finds trouble against hot-hitting Brewers

A's Opening Day starter allows six runs; Oakland rallies in ninth for tie

Gray finds trouble against hot-hitting Brewers

PHOENIX -- Carlos Gomez hit a leadoff home run and logged RBIs in each of the first three innings as the Brewers knocked around A's Opening Day starter Sonny Gray on Wednesday at Maryvale Baseball Park. The game ended in a 9-9 tie after Oakland rallied for four runs in the ninth.

Gray was touched for six earned runs on eight hits and three walks in only 2 2/3 innings, but he wasn't the only pitcher roughed up in the early going. Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson pitched five innings and surrendered four runs (one earned) on six hits, including Ike Davis' long two-run home run in the third inning. Those runs and one more came in the third after Brewers second baseman Luis Sardinas was charged with a costly error.

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

A's hope Crisp will be ready by Opening Day

Outfielder received cortisone shot to alleviate pain in injured right elbow

A's hope Crisp will be ready by Opening Day

MESA, Ariz. -- The A's aren't so much concerned about Coco Crisp's spring at-bat totals as they are his health, which is why they remain optimistic he'll be regular-season ready even if he continues to be held out of Spring Training games.

Crisp was a late scratch from Tuesday's matchup with the Cubs because of ongoing right elbow soreness, and it was later revealed that he received a cortisone shot to alleviate the pain, which will keep him out of game action through the week.

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

A's not concerned about down start by Gray

Opening Day starter allowed six runs over 2 2/3 innings against Brewers

A's not concerned about down start by Gray

PHOENIX -- Sonny Gray was knocked around by the Brewers on Wednesday, but the A's Opening Day starter was told to forget about the outing as quickly as he left it.

"You know what? Guy's got a lot of energy, he's very serious about what he does," said manager Bob Melvin, "and every now and then he's going to have a bad outing. I've never seen him get hit around, so we'll move on to the next one with him."

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Red-hot Ike benefits from consistent approach

A's first baseman hopes to carry performance into regular season

Red-hot Ike benefits from consistent approach

PHOENIX -- Ike Davis has a confession to make.

"I'm not going to hit .700 in the season," he said. "You can write that down."

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

While not at full strength, A's happy with bullpen

Oakland expects Clippard, Otero to step up with Doolittle (injured), Cook (optioned) out

While not at full strength, A's happy with bullpen

PHOENIX -- The A's bullpen, though different in makeup, remains a great strength.

The club will begin the regular season without the injured Sean Doolittle and the demoted Ryan Cook, yet top to bottom, the bullpen is loaded with assets, starting with presumed fill-in closer Tyler Clippard. Manager Bob Melvin is expected to make an official announcement on that soon.

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

A's option reliever Cook to Triple-A

Melvin expects All-Star righty to sort through mechanical issues

A's option reliever Cook to Triple-A

MESA, Ariz. -- Ryan Cook will look to continue sorting through mechanical issues, just not with the big league club. The struggling A's reliever was optioned to Triple-A Nashville on Tuesday, one day after he endured another rocky outing.

"We just felt like he needed a break from this, to go down and work things out," said manager Bob Melvin. "Sometimes something like that can rejuvenate you. It certainly wasn't fun for anybody, especially him. He was shocked and I don't blame him, but we expect him to be back here. We really do.

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.