MESA, Ariz. –- After the A’s first full-squad workout of the season was in the books Wednesday, the strongest praise that manager Bob Melvin handed out was directed at …
Bench coach Mike Aldrete?
Most major league clubs rely on the bench coach to coordinate the daily schedule for spring training. Considering Aldrete is in his first season on the A’s staff, and the team is breaking in a new spring practice facility at Fitch Park, Melvin expected some logistical headaches.
But all went smoothly during the 2 ½-hour workout, and for late February, that counts as a newsworthy development.
“You’re in a new complex, with a new team, with guys you don’t know, and to have it go off as well as it did today, I know (Aldrete) is going to sleep well tonight,” Melvin said.
DROPPING LUMBER: Mark Canha, looking to make a strong early impression as a Rule 5 draft pick, put on a power display in batting practice. The right-handed hitting first baseman/outfielder sent several balls rocketing over the left-field wall, putting the cars parked beyond the fence in some serious jeopardy.
Nothing to get too worked up about -– a coach was throwing to Canha during that portion of practice -– but it was a nice first day for the former Cal standout. As a Rule 5 pick, Canha must remain on the 25-man roster all season or be offered back to the Marlins for $25,000. A’s officials want to include him in this year’s plans, but Canha first must prove he belongs in the bigs.
TEACHING MOMENT: With all the roster reshuffling during the winter, who will grab the reins from a leadership standpoint for the A’s? Melvin said center fielder Coco Crisp, the longest tenured Athletic, has played a central role setting the clubhouse tone in past seasons. Two newcomers with lockers next to each other this spring, DH Billy Butler and second baseman Ben Zobrist, appear to have the attitude and respect to lead as well.
“That’s what we’re here for,” Butler said, “not only for what we do on the field but for what we bring in the clubhouse.”
QUOTABLE: “We were under the radar last year. Isn’t it like that every year here?” – Left-hander Scott Kazmir, when asked if the A’s had a chip on their shoulder because the Angels and Mariners are generally viewed as A.L. West favorites.
ODDS AND ENDS: The same bizarre scene is playing out as last spring, with the A’s utilizing two batting cages at once on one field. Two pitching machines were set up side by side on the mound Wednesday, and two batting cages sat next to each other at home plate, with two batters taking swings and spraying balls everywhere. Japanese teams often use double batting cages to get more work in in a shorter amount of time, and the A’s picked up on it when they opened the 2012 season in Tokyo.