Ah, Spring. Love and hope are in the air, every team still has a shot at the World Series—but doesn’t Spring come on March 20? So I’m shaking off the Tahoe powder to bring you the Honest Game Recap for Winter Training’s Colorado Rockies hosting our Oakland A’s. Annual tradition for that first early season tilt has my wife remarking: “Baseball’s back! I missed these guys.” Except that we’re A’s fans and the team’s roster turnover is brutal every year, so she follows with: “Who’s that and why’d Billy let him put on one of our jerseys?” I would answer but I’m trying to imagine which A’s outfield would have been better: Cespy, Reddick and Coco or Patrol Craft, Ethier and…wait a minute! Billy was able to keep most of the core together this season! Winter hope! What do we get to look forward to this season?
It was 70 degrees at Colorado’s Salt River Field facility in Arizona. AJ Griffin threw vs. the Rockies’ Jorge De La Rosa in his Tommy John surgery comeback. Nice to see Walt Weiss, our 1988 Rookie of the Year, managing for the Rockies. Also glad to see Tulo and the projected opening day lineup for Colorado because our pitchers might as well stretch out against actual Major League ballplayers. I would have liked if Griffin had more left handed batters to throw to, but no big deal. Man, I haven’t watched a game this early since…since…last year at this time. And by watch, I mean radio only, the only way to watch baseball!
Okay, standard protocol for breaking down Winter Training games. Instead of going inning by inning, let’s go by three groups:
Guys who need to stay healthy and get their work in; guys we don’t expect this year, but have an eye on the future; and most importantly, guys that need to show something to secure playing time or their roster spot. I liked the lineup Melvin threw out for us, because it was mostly guys in the latter two groups.
Griffin looked good, throwing a steady diet of strikes on 48 pitches in three innings of work. The blemish was a second inning homer by Colorado AAA infielder Arenado, but at least it was a solo shot. Griffin scattered three hits in three innings, no walks, and did all this work after A’s batters extended their half-inning by littering all over the basepaths. The only thing missing was a lonely bag blowing across the field. Oh, Oakland, there’s no place like home.
Donaldson, while penciled in at 3rd, still has only a couple months of good MLB at-bats, so you like to see more constancy from him than working a walk and grounding into a double play.
Group Future, Raddison’s Green Choice with a side of Freitas:
Choice had a nice at-bat with the bases loaded, working it even after being down 0-2, then getting plunked to snag himself his 8th RBI. He would later sting a single to center.
Russell was looking oh-for-today until he hit a bullet RBI up the middle in the 9th off of AA pitcher Dan Houston.
Green was 2-2, seeing action in the latter half of the game while subbing for Sizemore after Sizemore was hit in the hand. After Green’s first single he advanced to second on former A Josh Outman’s wild pitch, then scored on Chris Young’s hit, for our first normal RBI and fifth run of the day. He also started a double play to end the game.
Freitas homers on the second pitch he sees, going 1-2 in late-game action.
Group Did You Show Me Something:
Neshek, Figueroa and Okajima were uneventfully shut-down in their innings of work, all fighting for bullpen spots.
Sizemore reached base off two different pitchers, beating out an infield hit to third along with a HBP, coming out as a precaution.
Nakajima did everything right in his first trip to the plate but was called out on a pitch that Korach said: “You would have needed a ladder to hit.” Hiro ended the day with a hit in three attempts. People looking for defensive chances for Nakajima will have to wait.
Norris sent consecutive fouls out of play, the first reverberating loudly off of Fosse and Korach’s broadcast booth and then jabbing third base coach Mike Gallego before striking out on four pitches, swinging every time. He responded by not swinging in his second up, walking on four pitches. Feast or famine young lumberjack, at least he's consistent.
Taylor pulled a one-hop double off the wall in left then scored a run late in the game, which was nice to see.
Colorado’s pitchers were ineffectively wild, hitting three batters and walking one all with the bases loaded to account for the first four A’s runs. A’s batters often refused to go down with two strikes through the early innings. That being said, our batters never put up a crooked number and it’d be nice if more of our early runs came off hits when the opposing starter on the rocks. The Rockies’ catcher, Rosario, kept the game closer than it deserved to be with several dynamic blocks on pitches in the dirt. A’s defensive chances were mostly routine, although Michael Taylor (I think) started a rundown that went 9-5-3-4 out of right field in the bottom of the 7th that the A’s completed without issue and momentarily held a runner at third before Justin Thomas allowed him in.
The final line:
Oakland: 7 runs on 12 hits, no errors
Colorado: 2 runs on 8 hits, no errors.
Sizemore’s X-ray of his left hand looked clean in the postgame, and the A’s were decent with RISP even if the early returns were lacking, but other than that the game was a typical jumble of substitutions. Nothing roster-related was determined by today's performances. Griffin looked good and the bats worked the count well all game, the defense was clean and major bullpen components were solid.
Hope winters eternal! Since you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading, I hope I’ve earned your rec! Let’s Go Oakland!
Editor's Note: Congratulations to "whaxed" on winning today's FanPost Recap Contest, 7-to-4-to-2! All three recaps presented different and interesting interpretations of today's game. Thanks to Witt_Writer18 and YellowMelonCust - I hope that you'll both participate again later in the Spring! In the meantime, I am re-posting the sign-ups for this-coming Tuesday, as well as this-coming Thursday (3/7) against Seattle. Respond to the sign-ups in the comments if you'd like to take part! -Alex