Prior to the first game of the home series against the Baltimore Orioles, myself and Staff Writer Kevin Mendez were privileged enough to be invited to A’s Blog Day at the O.co Coliseum. It was a tremendous opportunity for us, as well as a number of other bloggers from various A’s sites to see a little bit of what the media does everyday at the ballpark.
Our scheduled guests were Manager Bob Melvin, Director of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi, and A’s starters A.J. Griffin and Brett Anderson, but it was an unexpected guest that provided the highlight of the afternoon. As we were awaiting the arrival of Bob Melvin, who was a little late because he was in pre-series meetings as batting practice was going on, we sat in a small press room with a little stage set up that looked just like what we see on the postgame shows on CSN California. Whether or not this was the same room they use or a smaller version to accomodate our little contingent is not known. Either way, it was pretty cool.
We were given 10 minute sessions with all of our guests, and little time was wasted in firing questions Melvin’s way, which he seemed to appreciate. He was asked first about the struggles of Jemile Weeks in 2012, he said after the intial success he had in 2011 he was having trouble repeating it. “ You try a little bit too hard some times as opposed to trying a little easier and letting your ability take over,” Melvin added. He seemed encouraged though by his play in Sacramento.
Melvin was asked about team chemistry, and whether he has to approach managing a young team differently than a veteran team. He said he couldn’t pinpoint a time when the team chemisrty gelled like it has, but the various platoons and the fact that this team can hit has put the team on the right path. Regarding managing a young team, “With younger players you try to be consistent and giving them good feedback. Because you know one thing about being a younger player coming to the big league level that you always have to get over is that “awe factor” and “do I belong here in the big leagues?” It’s apparent consistency is very important in all aspects of managing to Melvin.
After we concluded our session with Melvin the plan was for us to make our way down to the field to observe Melvin’s session with the local beat writers in the dugout. But not long after they got started we were greeted by someone else on the field. Having just concluded an interview with Collin Cowgill, Ray Fosse approached us and asked us who we were. We all quickly forgot about the media and Bob Melvin and turned our attention to Ray as he began to hold court in front of the dugout. We talked about everything from the Bernie phenomenon and Terry Kiser’s visit, to Ray’s time with the A’s in the 1970′s, and the 2012 A’s themselves.
We were also given the unique opportunity to hold and even wear his 1973 World Series ring (his ring size is much bigger than mine). Ray seemed oddly comfortable passing his ring around, probably because he knew if anyone tried to take it they wouldn’t make it far.
Ray seemed very high on this edition of the A’s, and Bob Melvin as well, proclaiming him to be the best skipper the A’s have had since Tony La Russa. He referenced Collin Cowgill whom he had just finished interviewing, ”I just interviewed him and he knows him from being with the Diamondbacks and he said “I’d run through that wall for that man.” I think that says it all.
We were summoned back into the press room to talk with Farhan Zaidi. Immediately (and not surprisingly) Grant Green was mentioned. Zaidi praised his reduction of his strikeouts, his versatility, and his immediate future with the team. ” He’s the guy that can go to camp with us next year and have the chance to make the team so right now I couldn’t tell you what position he is going to play or how he fits in, but the fact that he’s moved around this year has really given us a lot of options, which is always a good thing.” So perhaps in 2013 we may finally #FreeGrantGreen.
The one question I was able to get in was regarding whether or not any innings limits were under consideration for Jarrod Parker like we saw with Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals since Parker is also coming off Tommy John surgery. Zaidi stated that all players are looked at on a case by case basis and what works for the Nationals and Strasburg is different from what works for the Athletics and Parker.
Pitchers Brett Anderson and A.J. Griffin came in for the last session of the day. Obviously this took place before the oblique injury sidelined Anderson for the remainder of the regular season, so bear that in mind. The impact Bob Melvin has had on their paths to (in Griffin’s case), and back to (for Anderson) the Major Leagues. Griffin praised Melvin’s “calming presence” in the clubhouse, and Anderson reiterated Griffin’s sentiment and emphasized his confidence and “straight forward” demeanor.
Brett Anderson was asked if there was anything he discovered during his rehab that may have caused his injury in the first place. Anderson said, “Maybe not throw too many breaking balls early. But mechanically and things like that it’s pretty much the same.” A.J. Griffin was asked about his confidence on the mound at such an early stage of his career. “I always just try and be positive and no matter what the outcome of the game is. Lately it’s been much easier to be positive than having to be negative. I try and go out there and take one pitch at a time and execute the pitch and have conviction in it and just, once it leaves my hand there’s not much I can do about it.” Aside from his last two outings, it has been working for Griffin, he has a bright future indeed.
It was a truly amazing experience to be able to do this, and I am greatful as can be that I was able to do it. Thank you to Adam Loberstein for hosting the event and making this all possible, hopefully we can do it again in 2013.