MESA, Ariz. – With a shortage of outfielders in their major league camp, the A’s got pro-active in adding to their ranks Friday.
They claimed outfielder Alex Hassan off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles, and Hassan joined the 40-man roster. Simply put, Oakland needed reinforcements. They had just six outfielders in camp – Coco Crisp, Sam Fuld, Craig Gentry, Josh Reddick, Billy Burns and non-roster invitee Jason Pridie.
And with the A’s planning to be cautious with Crisp’s playing time early in exhibitions because of his past neck issues, players such as Burns, Pridie and Hassan will see extensive action in exhibitions.
Oakland may not be done adding, as a Fox Sports report mentioned the A’s as a potential landing spot for free agent outfielder Dayan Viciedo. The Blue Jays are also in pursuit.
Melvin shared his thoughts about how he’ll budget out Crisp’s playing time.
“It will probably be a late start for him (in exhibitions),” the manager said. “A few more DH (starts). We’ve seen Coco not be a guy that needs a lot of at-bats. It’s more about him being in the outfield for nine innings a couple times and the body being ready to go, more than getting the at-bats.”
CAMP BATTLE: It was a battle indeed Friday, as hitters were split up into four separate groups in a situational hitting contest. Different scenarios were presented, challenging hitters to hit a fly ball to the outfield to score a run or move the base runner over.
It broke up the monotony of standard batting practice, but it also highlighted an area that the A’s often struggled in during 2014, particularly in the second half. On too many occasions, runners were left stranded at third with less than two outs, for example. So expect a heavy emphasis to continue to be placed on situational hitting drills.
CAMP BATTLE, PART II: Melvin will use the Cactus League schedule to hash out the order for his late-inning relievers. Until Sean Doolittle returns from a shoulder injury, the A’s first need to decide who their closer will be, and then who the setup men will be getting him the ball in the ninth.
Expect lefty Eric O’Flaherty to play a more prominent role in this year’s bullpen as he begins his first healthy full season after Tommy John surgery. Melvin said O’Flaherty has no restrictions at all to start this season. Though the lefty provided solid work last year after coming off the disabled list (a 2.25 ERA in 21 appearances), O’Flaherty didn’t have the velocity on his fastball that will return this season, Melvin said.
LIGHTER SIDE: Fire alarms went off all around Hohokam Stadium on Friday morning – twice. The first went off at about 8:30 a.m., a piercing noise that shot through an otherwise calm and quiet morning. It blasted everywhere, even inside the home clubhouse.
“At least we know it works,” one team employee said.
ODDS AND ENDS: The A’s will hold intrasquad games at Fitch Park on Saturday and Sunday rather than the Sunday-Monday schedule originally announced. They’ll use Monday to hold a lighter workout before opening Cactus League play Tuesday against the Giants at Hohokam.