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First-place A's are fine working from the shadows

First-place A's are fine working from the shadows

First-place A's are fine working from the shadows

ANAHEIM -- Only the Red Sox, at 58-39, had a better record in the American League going into the All-Star break than the A's, who lead the West with a 56-39 record.

While the club was disappointed with only two All-Star Game selections -- starter Bartolo Colon and closer Grant Balfour -- the A's clearly have grown accustomed to the relative anonymity of the Bay Area with the reigning World Series champion Giants as their neighbors.

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"We don't need that," said A's rookie starter Dan Straily. "We don't lose sleep over the fact we're not the headline on ESPN."

Starter Jarrod Parker believes the A's can only benefit from their second-half success last year.

"Certain components are going to roll over and change, but the core guys are here," Parker said. "With what we've gone through, we know who we are. We had our struggles early. It's all about being confident as a group.

"We know we haven't done everything right. We can be a lot better in some aspects. We can pitch and field better. In the second half, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I think we'll start playing our best baseball."

The A's have charged to the front in the West without consistent contributions from Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick, their big guns last season. Cespedes is hitting .225 and Reddick .218.

"Different guys seem to step up every night," Straily said. "It's not about one or two guys. It's really a team in this clubhouse. Guys who come from other clubhouses say it's different here.

"It honestly feels like 25 guys who are friends and go out and play baseball every night."

Catcher John Jaso played for the Rays and Mariners before moving to the A's in January in a three-team swap involving the Nationals and Mariners.

"I don't want to compare it to other clubs I've been on," Jaso said, "but what I see with the chemistry here is very good. A team can get in trouble when you have cliques, guys complaining about this guy playing and this guy not playing. None of that happens here. [Good chemistry] creates opportunities to succeed."

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

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