MLB.com Columnist

Lyle Spencer

A's reconfigure infield after roster overhaul

Club looks to newcomers to fill significant roles

A's reconfigure infield after roster overhaul

MESA, Ariz. -- The Dodgers had an infield in the 1970s and early '80s -- Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell and Ron Cey -- that spent eight celebrated seasons together.

The infield of the 2014 Athletics didn't last eight months. Gone are Brandon Moss, Jed Lowrie and Josh Donaldson, the team's best player. The primary second baseman, Eric Sogard, remains in camp in an anticipated utility role.

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

Melvin, A's to ease Crisp into game action

Veteran outfielder has dealt with multiple injuries over past seasons

Melvin, A's to ease Crisp into game action

MESA, Ariz. -- The oft-injured Coco Crisp will be eased into Cactus League games, according to A's manager Bob Melvin.

"I'll probably hold him out the first few because I'm going to cut down on his workload," Melvin said Sunday.

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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.

Hassan duking it out to find home with A's

Hassan duking it out to find home with A's

MESA, Ariz. -- Alex Hassan blended right in on his first day in an A's uniform, walking twice in an intrasquad game with his new teammates.

"Two walks, fits right in here," manager Bob Melvin quipped.

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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.

Zito set to debut Thursday

Back with original team, lefty hasn't pitched in a game since 2013

Zito set to debut Thursday

MESA, Ariz. -- Barry Zito will be back in game action for the first time since 2013 on Thursday, when the A's lefty is scheduled to make his first Cactus League start in a road meeting with the Cubs.

The A's have another southpaw, Brad Mills, on tap for their Tuesday opener against the Giants at Hohokam Stadium. On Wednesday, it's the Giants' turn to host the A's in Scottsdale, Ariz., in another early spring match between the Bay rivals, with right-hander Jesse Chavez on the mound for Oakland.

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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.

Newcomer Smith excited for fresh start with A's

Newcomer Smith excited for fresh start with A's

MESA, Ariz. -- As if they don't have enough of them, the A's welcomed in another new face Saturday morning. Right-hander Chad Smith, claimed off waivers from Detroit on Thursday, arrived at Hohokam Stadium bright and early for his first day in green and gold.

Smith actually wore the colors as early as age 5, when his San Francisco-based aunt gifted him an A's shirsey. Just days ago, his mom recovered a photo of him wearing it. The timing couldn't have been more perfect.

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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.

Melvin impressed by defense in intrasquad game

Venditte among five A's pitchers to see action; club also mindful of pace-of-play rules

Melvin impressed by defense in intrasquad game

MESA, Ariz. -- The threat of rain didn't stop the A's from gathering for a four-inning intrasquad game at Fitch Park on Saturday morning. The defense greatly impressed manager Bob Melvin, but it was the umpire who stole the show.

Bullpen catcher Casey Chavez, brother of six-time A's Gold Glove winner Eric Chavez, didn't just play the part. He dressed it, too.

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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 top prospect Olson feels '100 percent' at camp

First baseman said he's at full strength after right shoulder injury

A's top prospect Olson feels '100 percent' at camp

MESA, Ariz. -- The past few months have been a bit of a whirlwind for Matt Olson, as the first baseman was named Oakland's top prospect and is also participating in his first big league camp.

However, the offseason wasn't entirely good news as Olson also had to overcome the first injury of his career in order to get to camp on time.

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

A's hold situational hitting competition at camp

A's hold situational hitting competition at camp

MESA, Ariz. -- As the A's continue to get ready for the 2015 season, they spent Friday working on situational hitting, doing so with a friendly competition.

Craig Gentry, Josh Reddick, Mark Canha, Billy Butler and Sam Fuld came out on top over Ben Zobrist, Ike Davis, Brett Lawrie, Marcus Semien and Jason Pridie.

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

Melvin excited about new infield

Oakland will likely have four new starters around the diamond in 2015

Melvin excited about new infield

MESA, Ariz. -- Odds are the Athletics will begin the 2015 season with a completely different infield than the one that began the 2014 season.

It's extremely rare that a team replaces all four infield starters, and although Melvin couldn't recall a time he'd been around a team with so much turnover in the infield, he likes the way the A's are currently constructed.

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

A's claim OF Hassan, place Griffin on 60-day DL

Oakland adds needed depth in outfield, moves recovering righty to make space

A's claim OF Hassan, place Griffin on 60-day DL

MESA, Ariz. -- Hours after manager Bob Melvin talked about the lack of outfielders the A's had in Spring Training, the team announced it had claimed outfielder Alex Hassan off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles.

"It's kind of similar where last year we had a lack of infielders, this year we have a lack of outfielders," Melvin said.

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

Change offers Canha opportunity to go home

Power-hitting OF/1B gets chance to stay in bigs

Change offers Canha opportunity to go home

MESA, Ariz. -- Mark Canha and his wife, Marci, always wanted to settle down in the Bay Area. A life in baseball, though, comes without the freedom to plan such things. So when Canha heard he had been selected by Colorado in December's Rule 5 Draft, after five seasons in Miami's organization, he again set aside that vision.

He only had to wait 10 minutes for it to become a reality, though, when he was suddenly on the phone with the A's, who had pulled off a quick trade (for right-handeder Austin House and cash) with the Rockies.

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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.

Crisp announces new iPhone game

Outfielder enters new venture as he looks to stay healthy in '15

Crisp announces new iPhone game

MESA, Ariz. -- Center fielder, fan favorite and now video game designer?

When someone thinks of Oakland's Coco Crisp, it is doubtful video games are the first thing they think about. That may be changing, however, as Crisp has launched an iPhone game, "Coco's Fro Patrol."

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

A's claim RHP Smith, place RHP Thompson on 60-day DL

A's claim RHP Smith, place RHP Thompson on 60-day DL

MESA, Ariz. -- The A's claimed right-hander Chad Smith off waivers from Detroit on Thursday, a move meant to offset the loss of another relief option, Taylor Thompson, to injury.

The right-handed Thompson was forced to bow out of the bullpen competition because of a right-shoulder strain. He was placed on the 60-day disabled list to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Smith and has been shut down indefinitely.

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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.

Chavez to join A's TV broadcast for 20 games

Six-time Gold Glove winner debuts April 24

MESA, Ariz. -- Six-time Gold Glove winner Eric Chavez will join the A's broadcast team as a color commentator for 20 telecasts this season. He debuts April 24, when the A's host the Astros.

Chavez, who is currently serving as a special assignment scout for the Yankees, with whom he played in 2011-12, will also act as a studio analyst for select "A's Pregame Live" and "A's Postgame Live" shows on Comcast SportsNet California. He follows in the footsteps of fellow former A's players who were invited in the broadcast booth for 20 games in recent years: Shooty Babbitt (2014) and Scott Hatteberg (2012-13).

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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 participate in domestic violence training

A's participate in domestic violence training

MESA, Ariz. -- A's players were among the first in Major League Baseball to undergo mandatory domestic violence training early Thursday morning.

The new course lasted nearly two hours in the A's clubhouse, and coaches and front-office members will attend one this spring, too.

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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.

Lawrie ready to bring high-octane drive to A's

Third baseman confident intensity for game will catch on quick with new club

Lawrie ready to bring high-octane drive to A's

MESA, Ariz. -- Brett Lawrie is in perpetual motion. He's exhausting to watch, even when he's sitting, with his quick-twitch muscles -- many of them bathed in ink -- always on the go. Which begs the question, how did he ever sit still in the tattoo parlor?

Lawrie says he's clocked 29 hours on his left arm, the tattooed sleeve devoted to his sister, Nicole, who passed as a young child before he was even born, and another 23 1/2 hours on his right arm, spotted with inspirational words that fuel his desire for greatness.

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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.

Sure-handed infielder Ellis retires at 37

A's mainstay finishes career with fifth-best fielding percentage for second baseman

Sure-handed infielder Ellis retires at 37

Second baseman Mark Ellis is retiring from baseball, according to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle.

The 37-year-old Ellis, a ninth-round selection of the Royals in the 1999 First-Year Player Draft, played 12 years in the Majors with the A's, Rockies, Dodgers and Cardinals. Ellis spent 8 1/2 seasons with Oakland.

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

Vogt steals show during A's team meeting

Vogt steals show during A's team meeting

MESA, Ariz. -- All is well, and wacky, in A's camp.

The club held a team meeting prior to its first-full squad workout on Wednesday morning, dominated primarily by manager Bob Melvin. But co-owner Lew Wolff also spoke, after he walked out to "Louie Louie," and so did a special guest -- brought in to explain MLB's new rules intended to hasten pace of play.

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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.

Venditte explains his superpower: Ambidextrous pitchi

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Venditte explains his superpower: Ambidextrous pitchi

A's reliever Pat Venditte is a professional right-handed pitcher. He is also a professional left-handed pitcher. Often, he does both in the same game. Welcome to the world of ambidextrous pitching.

The Minor Leaguer scored an invite to Spring Training this season and with his career 2.54 ERA and average 10 strikeouts per nine innings, it's not difficult to see why. This week, the switch-pitching Venditte went on Hot Stove to break down his baseball superpower for us mortals.

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MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Managing new faces is old hat to Melvin

Managing new faces is old hat to Melvin

MESA, Ariz. -- In the ever-changing world of the Oakland A's, Billy Butler is one of the clubhouse veterans.

After all, he signed as a free agent back on Nov. 19.

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

Twice-traded Alvarez eager to make mark with A's

Top prospect among several competing for two open bullpen spots

Twice-traded Alvarez eager to make mark with A's

MESA, Ariz. -- R.J. Alvarez is a right-handed third-round Draft pick who believes he could've been a left-handed first-round Draft pick.

"I'm always joking with my dad, telling him, 'You owe me a million dollars,'" Alvarez said. "I would've been throwing 98 in the Draft and been the 15th overall pick as a left-hander."

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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.

Gentry looks to bounce back from injury-marred 2014

A's expect speedy outfielder to be integral part of offense

Gentry looks to bounce back from injury-marred 2014

MESA, Ariz. -- The A's started and finished the 2014 season without Craig Gentry, who is eager for a second chance to introduce himself to fans after multiple injuries interrupted his first season in green and gold.

Gentry came to camp last year as one of the organization's most prized offseason acquisitions, a player the Rangers didn't want to give up until lured by an offer that included one of the A's top prospects: Michael Choice. Gentry also arrived injured, hurting his back while driving one too many hours from his offseason home in Dallas to the A's spring complex.

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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.

Face of MLB: Doolittle narrowly defeated by Bay rival Posey

A's closer floored by fans' support, creativity

Face of MLB: Doolittle narrowly defeated by Bay rival Posey

MESA, Ariz. -- The Face of MLB contest will continue on without Oakland's Sean Doolittle, who was narrowly edged by Bay rival Buster Posey -- and a bribe-heavy Giants campaign -- in the semifinals.

"Pretty good run," the bearded A's closer said Tuesday.

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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.

Chavez sets sights on A's rotation

Chavez sets sights on A's rotation

MESA, Ariz. -- Jesse Chavez brought a big appetite to camp. The A's right-hander is craving both food and success around the clock, and for one of the lightest pitchers in all of baseball, the former is crucial to the latter.

Ask around the A's clubhouse and the answer is seemingly unanimous: Chavez deserves a spot in the rotation again. The right-hander isn't so sure he's earned it, though, despite his incredible work last year.

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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 take measures to slow opponents' running game

A's take measures to slow opponents' running game

MESA, Ariz. -- The A's inability to control their opponents' running game haunted them too often last season, and no time more so than in their final game, displayed under the microscope of a national audience.

The Royals stole a postseason-record seven bases under Oakland's watch in the American League Wild Card Game, a 12-inning escapade the A's lost, 9-8. It was the continuation of an ugly regular-season trend they're ready to halt this spring.

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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.

Returning to A's was a no-brainer for Mills

Returning to A's was a no-brainer for Mills

MESA, Ariz. -- The A's got plenty bang out of the buck they spent on Brad Mills last year. The left-hander, though with the club for exactly one month before being designated for assignment and claimed by Toronto, used the time to showcase his worth as a starter and is back to do so again on a Minor League deal.

"The few weeks I had here, I threw OK, but it was just such an enjoyable experience I wanted to have again," Mills said Monday at A's Spring Training. "It just helps when I know the organization will give me a chance to start and trust me if they need me, and that's all I'm looking for."

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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.

Phegley welcomes shot to catch on with A's

Stuck behind Flowers in Chicago, backstop has good shot at backup role

Phegley welcomes shot to catch on with A's

MESA, Ariz. -- When the A's dealt Derek Norris and John Jaso in separate trades this winter, Josh Phegley automatically slid into the second spot on the catching depth chart, otherwise known as prime position for an Opening Day roster job.

Phegley's never had one of those. Former White Sox teammate Tyler Flowers was always picked over 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.

Groin issue sidelines A's rotation hopeful Nolin

Venditte continues to draw attention; Doolittle set for Face of MLB semis

Groin issue sidelines A's rotation hopeful Nolin

MESA, Ariz. -- The competition for a spot in the A's Opening Day rotation is seemingly less crowded than it was when camp opened just days ago.

A's manager Bob Melvin revealed Sunday that left-hander Sean Nolin, who underwent sports hernia surgery in the offseason, was still experiencing discomfort in the groin area when throwing from flat ground Saturday. The A's have decided to shut him down for a while, and there's no timetable for him to begin throwing again.

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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.