The Oakland A’s Spring Training is underway in Arizona, having the pitchers and catchers already working out and throwing bullpen sessions off the mound. The full teams reports on Wednesday however a lot of the guys are already there like Coco Crisp and Nate Freiman.
Last season the A’s had a great Spring Training finishing 3rd in the Cactus League. This upcoming spring, the A’s will look to once again have a great spring, but not necessarily in the standings. Their goal is to bring the best out of their players, shake off their dust, and get them ready for the season. Their Spring training success isn’t determined by the standings but by how the team performs when the season rolls around.
First thing the A’s are doing is they are bringing yoga back again. They are having their players do yoga workouts to work on balance and flexibility. While this might seem silly to some, it actually goes a long way. Pitchers will notice it in their pitching mechanics when they are more flexible and can keep a better balance. Players like Coco will be more flexible when reaching out to catch a fly ball on a diving play or on a tricky one. Same goes for the infielders. The offense will be able to feel it in their swings. The more balance the better. Yoga is actually a great workout for baseball players, and the A’s know this, which will lead to a successful spring for them.
Another thing they are planning on is evaluating the talent to determine the roster, but that one is obvious. They plan on evaluating these guys, coaching them to bring out their full potential, and then make their decision. Guys like Bob Melvin and Curt Young are guys who know how fix problems and make a player better.
For example, let’s look at Scott Kazmir. He was a decent pitcher last season, and even better in the second half, but the A’s know that he is better than his 2013 self. They plan on taking a good look at him, help him fix some pitching mechanics, and help him improve on his pitches to make him an even bigger threat. He himself acknowledged that he began to lose flexibility on his mechanics as outlined in this story. The coaches help him through this process and when the season rolls around Kazmir will be ready to impress.
They do this with most if not all of their players. That is why players can strive in Oakland when they haven’t elsewhere.
Another thing the A’s are planning, or aren’t planning, is intrasquad games. According Jane Lee Bob Melvin stated that the team already has enough games as is, and that he would like to keep the focus on drills when they can.
So in summary, the A’s plans for Spring Training are simple ones, yoga training, evaluating and developing talent, and doing so by focusing on drills when they can. Simple yet with the right mind set can go a long way. If they can stick to this and get the team ready to go they will have a successful spring and even more successful season… and postseason.