OAKLAND -– No surprises came down Saturday with the A’s final roster cuts, but it was no ordinary day for Billy Burns and Tyler Ladendorf.
Both received the memorable news that they made the A’s 25-man roster, as outfielders Coco Crisp and Josh Reddick were placed on the 15-day disabled list as expected.
Burns, perhaps the fastest player in the A’s entire organization, tore up Cactus League pitching and finished with a .373 batting average. He’ll be a switch-hitting weapon off the bench and is an option in center or left field. Ladendorf hit .318 and showed he’s a capable option at second, short, third and all three outfield spots.
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Both players fit the mold of the type of versatility and position flexibility the A’s have leaned on over the past three years.
“We have a good handle on what we have here and we like what we have here,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We like our mix. We’re going to be able to mix and match some and get everyone involved.”
Ladendorf got official word after batting practice Saturday that he made the team, and what a moment it was for the 27-year-old native of Illinois. He has logged more than 2,300 at-bats over seven minor league seasons without ever reaching the majors. Ladendorf was in the middle of a breakthough offensive season at Triple-A last season when he was suspended 50 games after testing positive for what was labeled a “drug of abuse.”
The A’s provided him a clean slate and invited him to big league camp, where he flourished. Melvin called Ladendorf into his office and asked him if he wanted the good news or bad news first. Ladendorf said bad news, and Melvin shared that there was none.
“Obviously the way last year kind of went down, to get back out there and play, I knew the only way to put last year behind me was for this year to get going,” Ladendorf said. “Once we got going, it was fun to be around these guys.”
Burns got called up last year and served mainly as a pinch-running option, and this is his first Opening Day roster. He turned heads this spring with his improvement hitting from the left side of the plate and also showed a good arm in the outfield. Sam Fuld and Craig Gentry will hold down two outfield spots, and though Ben Zobrist and Mark Canha will also factor in, Burns has shown he’s got more to offer than just blazing speed.
He’d been staying at the team hotel for the Bay Bridge Series, and showed up to the Coliseum on Saturday with his bags packed, not wanting to take anything for granted about making the team. Melvin told him he could unpack.
“I just feel blessed and honored, and thankful that they would consider me for a position like that,” said Burns, 25.
The A’s reassigned five players to minor league camp – pitchers Barry Zito, Brock Huntzinger and Pat Venditte, catcher Bryan Anderson and outfielder Jason Pridie. Venditte, the ambidextrous pitcher who drew so much attention this spring, posted a 4.50 ERA in 11 appearances and could position himself for a call-up at some point if he performs well in the minors.
Six players were placed on the disabled list as expected: right-hander Jarrod Parker (Tommy John recovery), reliever Sean Doolittle (rotator cuff), lefty Sean Nolin (sports hernia), first baseman Nate Freiman (back) and Crisp (elbow) and Reddick (oblique). Of that group, Reddick is expected to return as soon as next Saturday when he’s eligible to be activated. Crisp, Doolittle and Parker all are expected back at various points before the All-Star break.